Volunteer in Marine Conservation Philippines

Local folklore

For ages people of the Philippines have attributed Siquijor Island with mystique and eerie phenomena. Still today the folksy spiritualism plays a large part in the image of the island, and believers still come to sample the witch brew, ranging from potions intended to cure fever or stomach cramps to love potions or concoctions for those vengeful of heart.


Bolo-bolo healer in action

Bolo-bolo healer blowing through the wooden straw

One of the many healing rituals performed on Siquijor is that of bolo-bolo. It is performed with the use of a drinking glass, water, stone and straw. The sessions usually begins with the healer taking the pulse of the patient. By doing so, the healer can supposedly tell if the affliction is caused by natural or unnatural means. Some refuse to heal patients if the nature of the sickness is profane, refering instead the patients to the doctor. Other healers claim they can cure both natural and unnatural ailments. Regardless, the practise is the same.

The healer drops a black stone into a glass, the stone allegedly having been acquired through some sort of magic. Then the healer half fills the glass with water. Using a wooden straw the healer then blows bubbles into the water, whilst holding the glass against the patient in the area affected by the disease.  Gradually the water will become brown, murky or even blackish. Sometimes small stones, shrubs, bones or other material will appear in the water as the healer keps blowing bubbles. This procedure is repeated a  until the water no longer become tainted when the healer blows, by which time the patient is supposedly cured. Sceptics may of course speculate the healer slowly regurgitate or spit material through the straw, but in a world with too many shopping malls and not enough magic such thoughts are perhaps just dull. Regardless, whether you believe in bolo-bolo or not, the mysticism of it and many other arcane practises is one of the things that define Siquijor.