Hilot Philippine indigenous massage
Hilot massage Roots, 菲律宾土法按摩
It is not easy to trace any organized establishment of the Hilot phenomenon. In the first section of this article, we alluded to the simple and instinctive “rubbing where it hurts” and the consequent recognition of patterns of causes and effects. What can really drive our curiosity is the aura of secrecy with which manghihilots seems to cloak their healing skills. In general, Filipino healing traditions – including the centuries - old Hilot – appear to be shrouded in mystery and secrecy.
Hilot Philippine masseur
This is more because those who have received the gift are not articulate in technical communications. They attribute their healing skills – rightly so – to a higher power. In search of an adequate presentation of skills and powers that are beyond their own comprehension, manghihilots of old have ritualized their healing activity, using the native animistic beliefs and vocabulary of their era, while discovering more cause-effect relationships along the way. And so, what may appear to some as superstition is really the manghihilot's in articulate attempt to modestly attribute the power to God (or a higher being). Amulets and anting-antings are statements of attribution. The proof of this modesty is that authentic manghihilots do not charge fees.
Surprisingly, the rituals, chants, and oraciones somehow serve to predispose the sick person mentally and physically towards healing. Admittedly, some persons do venture into deeper spiritism. But whether external powers and principalities do intervene is a matter for further investigation.
Learning the causes and beneficial effects of rubbing takes years. No wonder the manghihilot stereotypes are typically old men and women. There are, however, some amazing cases of prodigious children whose powers are undeniably gifts – i.e., acquired with minimal or no training at all.
On top of these processes of discovery, we should add the influences of Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Western healing traditions. And so what do we have? An evolution of diverse beliefs and practices regarding health that have stood the test of time.
stood the test of time.
Despite its widespread influence, Hilot is a little-understood mode of healing. Individuals who have experienced Hilot cannot explain how and why they got well, only that they felt better after the Hilot session. Asking a traditional Hilot practitioner may just yield more questions, because in all likelihood, the albularyo or manghihilot (traditional healer) will explain Hilot as he learned it–through espirito (spirit), encanto (elementals), and kulam (spells). This is part of the reason why Hilot, as a healing tradition, began to be looked upon with skepticism as conventional western medicine–with its emphasis on science and empiricism–rose to prominence.
The Four Elements of the Body.
When it comes to the physical body, the Hilot tradition abides by the belief that man is made up of the four elements–earth, water, air, and fire. These elements of the body have a natural balance, which has to be kept within a certain range for the individual to be in a state of health. The balance of the four elements is determined by the mind/emotions–in a state of harmony, the four elements are balanced. In a state of disharmony, the elements of the body are in disarray. When thrown off-balance for extended periods, the elements of the body eventually give in to physical ailments and disease.
What’s Common Among Filipino Hilot Traditions
Today there are many versions of traditional hilot massage in the Philippines. For now, let’s take a quick look at what is common among them.
A pre-hilot ritual is typically done at the beginning of a session, wherein the manghihilot invokes a universal transcendent or Divine power to provide the energy for healing. This opening ritual also acknowledges and invokes the natural power of the natural surroundings. Thirdly, it summons the sick person’s inherent self-healing powers to action.
Having and maintaining warm hands is an essential requirement for all kinds of hilot massage. This is where coconut oil comes in handy, because it not lubricates the hilot massage, but it actually keeps the manghihilot’s hands warm. The use of coconut oil for healing purposes began in the Philippines, and the world is only now discovering the benefits of VCO as a base oil for aromatherapy massage.
Elizabeth F. Nelle, director of product research and development of the DOT says that hilot is a highly intuitive massage wherein the therapist identifies areas of energy imbalance in the body through touch diagnosis. Traditional Filipino hilot involves massaging of hands and arms as a diagnostic step –“pagpupulso” – done in a seated position, to ascertain the cause of pain or discomfort. There are a number of interesting diagnostic methods.
Thereafter, the manghihilot massages the head and neck; subsequently, in a reclining position, the torso, hips, legs, and lastly, the feet. At the end of the hilot, a ritual of thanks or pasasalamat is performed.
Traditional Hilot and Hilot Wellness
On one hand, the entry of Hilot into the spa industry was good, because it revived interest in Hilot, especially in urban areas where very few people know or have access to it.
On the other hand, however, Hilot’s rise in popularity in the spa industry has also attracted many players who are not actually knowledgeable on traditional Hilot, but want to join in on the Hilot bandwagon.
As a result, there are those who perform ordinary massage which do not follow traditional Hilot principles, but label it as “Hilot.” Unfortunately, this reinforced the view that Hilot is no more than just a type of massage. This is also a cause of concern, because there are people who go to the spa hoping for relief from their aches and pains (as one would expect with real Hilot), but come out from the treatment even worse off, because the manipulations they received were far from the real practice of Hilot.
Hilot Wellness, when performed correctly and according to the principles of traditional Hilot healing, truly improves an individual’s well-being. One just needs to make sure that the therapist who will perform it is well-trained, and has experience in applying this treatment modality.
There are also a host of indigenous Filipino treatments or “modalities” that are associated with hilot. These healing practices have been passed on not through institutional instruction, but by apprenticeship or plain exposure, and are passed on to relatives and neighbors. Hilot traditions have literally “rubbed off” from generation to generation.
Reasons to Make Hilot Part of Your Life
- Hilot helps determine your general health condition.
- Hilot addresses the health of your whole being.
- Helps prevent potential health problems.
- Hilot is the lazy man’s exercise.
- Hilot does for your body what a “tune-up” does for your car.
- Works in tandem with all-natural herbs and proper nutrition.
- Fosters awareness and appreciation of your body.
- Rejuvenates and refreshes.
Hilot is the Science of the Ancient Filipino Healing Arts