The tambalan and his medical practices in Leyte and Samar Islands, Philippines


Arens, R.

Philippine Journal of Science 86(1): 121-130

1957


The "tambalan," or herb-doctor, is, even in modern Philippine society, a respectable personality. In cities and towns with modern hospitals, the tambalan is still called by the upper-class Filipino in cases where modern medical practice seems to fail. Among lower-class people, the tambalan is more trusted than the district health inspector. This article records and describes the available information on the subject in the islands of Leyte and Samar. Beliefs as to how the tambalan derives his power, methods of treatment used for different kinds of sicknesses, etc., are described.

THE
TAMBALAN
AND
HIS
MEDICAL
PRACTICES
IN
LEYTE
AND
SAMAR
ISLANDS,
PHILIPPINES
BY
RICHARD
ARENS,
S.V.D.
St.
Paul's
College,
Tacloban
City
The
tambalan
(herb-doctor
or
medicine
man)
is,
even
in
modern
Philippine
society,
a
respectable
personality.
In
cities
and
towns
with
modern
hospitals,
the
tambalan
is
still
called
by
the
upper-class
Filipino
in
cases
where
modern
medical
practice
seemingly
fail.
Among
the
lower-class
people,
partic-
ularly
those
found
in
barrios,
the
tambalan
is
more
trusted
than
the
district
health
inspector
who
regularly
visits
their
places.
The
reasons
for
this
attitude
are
manifold.
In
folk-belief,
the
tambalan
is
believed
to
have
supernatural
powers
to
con-
tact
and
control
the
spirits.
A
sickness
caused
by
spirits,
which
cannot
be
cured
by
modern
medicine,
can
only
be
cured
by
the
tambalan;
therefore
he
has,
in
the
mind
of
the
ordinary
people,
an
edge
over
the
modern
doctor.
His
personal
ap-
proach,
compared
to
the
cool
professional
attitude
which
often
characterizes
that
of
the
doctor
or
health
inspector,
in
applying
his
remedies
and
the
long
rituals
involved
in
their
application
have
a
quieting
and
favorable
effect
on
the
patient.
The
money
question
may
be
another
reason
for
securing
the
services
of
the
tambalan.
Since
it
is
believed
that
the
healing
power
of
the
tambalan
is
a
supernatural
gift
which
might
be
lost
if
money
is
taken
for
his
services,
the
medicine
used
by
him
is
cheap
and
is
often
without
charge.
For
a
grave
sickness,
payment
may
be
in
kind,
such
as
food
and
tuba
which
can
be
secured
more
easily
than
the
cash
that
may
be
needed
for
an
injection
prescribed
by
a
modern
doctor.
Thus
for
financial
reason
the
poorer
classes'
are
compelled
to
avail
themselves
of
his
services,
although
to
the
well-to-do
this
cannot
be
true,
because
of
their
willingness
to
spend
more
money
for
a
banquet
that
the
tambalan
may
require
than
for
the
cost
of
the
necessary
medicine
that
may
be
prescribed
by
a
modern
doctor.
It
is
apparent,
therefore,
that
the
tambalan
is
trusted
more
than
the
modern
doctor
and
even
the
well-to-do
people
are
wont
to
avail
themselves
of
his
services.
1
Even
students
prefer
to
go
to
the
tambalan
than
to
pay
the
cost
of
an
injection
for
skin
disease.
121
122
The
Philippine
Journal
of
Science
1957
Origin
of
the
tambalan.—The
institution
of
the
tambalan
is
older
than
recorded
Philippine
history.
It
may
be
simply
explained
thus:
The
origin
of
sickness
in
man
may
be
traced
to
the
days
when
he
was
driven
out
of
paradise.
Man
needed
attention
and
help.
Some
members
of
early
society,
being
more
intelligent
than
others
and
living
close
to
nature,,
found
the
healing
qualities
of
certain
plants
by
experimenting
with
them.
It
was
natural
for
them
to
help
their
suffering
kinsfolk.
Thus
came
the
tambalan
in
whom
the
more
credulous
attributed
special
supernatural
powers.
Some
tambalan
more
ambitious
than
the
others
capitalized
en
the
people's
credulity,
as
may
still
be
seen
today;
while
those
who
refused
to
take
advantage
of
the
credulous
could
not
afford
to
brush
aside
easily
the
air
of
"mysticism"
ascribed
upon
them.
This
article
does
not
attempt
to
trace
the
origin
of
the
tambalan
through
local
history,
but
records
and
describes
the
available
information
on
the
subject
in
the
islands
of
Leyte
and
Samar.
Two
beliefs
are
common
as
to
how
the
tambalan
derived
his
power.
The
power
is
bestowed
upon
him
by
the
spirits.
In
Abuyog,
for
example,
it
is
believed
that
the
"spirit
of
the
mountains"
or
"cave
spirits"
open
their
caves
during
the
Lenten
season.
If
someone
happens
to
enter
such
caves
and
finds
a
bottle
in
which
a
plant
is
growing
naturally,
that
is
with
roots
down
and
leaves
up,
he
will
become
a
good
tambalan;
but
if
he
finds
a
bottle
with
an
inverted
plant
he
will
automatically
become
an
astyang.
2
A
similar
belief
is
held
in
case
someone
finds
a
mutya
(magic
stone),
which
even
would
make
him
a
better
tambalan.
The
mutya,
placed
in
a
bottle
with
water
helps
the
tambalan
to
diagnose
a
sickness
and
to
prescribe
the
cure
for
the
ailment.
3
One
can
also
become
a
tambalan
by
seriously
preparing
and
training
for
one.
This
is
the
belief
and
practice
in
Biliran
Island.
In
the
Naval-Almeria-Kawayan
region
of
the
island,
north
of
Leyte,
one
intending
to
become
a
tambalan
goes
through
a
rigid
initiation.
He
spends
nine
Fridays
in
the
forest
where
he
is
attacked
by
all
kinds
of
animals.
This
attack
is
said
to
be
only
in
his
dreams
and
in
his
imagination.
The
following
nine
Fridays
he
spends
in
the
sea;
the
next
nine
Informant
from
Abuyog,
Leyte.
°
Informant
from
Tolosa,
Leyte.
S6,
1
Arens:
Tambalan
and
His
Medical
Practices
123
Fridays,
in
the
Church
;
and
the
last
nine
Fridays,
in
the
cemetery.
After
this
ordeal
the
aspirant
becomes
a
full-fledged
tambalan
and
can
cure
all
kinds
of
diseases.
4
The
tambalan
in
action.—To
cure
an
ordinary
sickness,
the
tambalan
applies
some
herbs
or
uses
only
his
saliva
;
therefore
he
is
called
"Dr.
Laway."
In
case
of
a
more
serious
sickness
he
makes
a
thorough
diagnosis
the
practice
of
which
varies
among
the
practitioners.
The
egg-ceremony
is
widely
used
in
practice.
In
Biliran
Island,
the
tambalan
enters
the
sickroom
with
a
round
bottle
and
a
fresh
egg.
After
saying
a
few
prayers
and
a
blessing,
he
lays
the
bottle
horizontally
on
a
table
and
tries
to
make
the
egg
stand
on
the
bottle.
If
he
succeeds,
the
tambalan
tells
the
patients'
relatives
that
fairies
of
anitos
harmed
the
sick
and
that
offerings
have
to
be
made
to
pacify
the
spirits.
5
In
Culaba,
Biliran
Island,
the
tambalan
makes
an
egg
stand
on
a
plate.
If
the
egg
stands,
the
tambalan
will
say
that
the
sickness
is
due
to
some
spirits
of
their
dead
ancestors
who
are
angry,
because
the
family
members
have
forgotten
to
pray
for
them.
The
tambalan
tells
the
family
to
perform
a
novena
in
honor
of
their
dead
ancestors.
On
the
last
day
of
the
novena,
he
tells
them
to
give
a
feast
and
to
prepare
their
favorite
food.
The
spirits
of
their
dead
ancestors
are
invited
to
dine
at
the
feasts
In
Samar,
the
tambalan
uses
a
fresh
egg,
rolling
it
care-
fully
over
the
skin
of
the
sick
person
and
showing
the
rela-
tives
the
shadow
of
a
tree
in
the
egg
which
becomes
transparent.
He
explains
that
this
tree
is
inhabited
by
spirits
which
have
been
offended
by
the
sick
and
should
therefore
be
appeased
by
offerings.?
A
Bohol
informants
gave
this
interesting
account:
"My
grandfather
was
paralyzed.
Several
weeks
of
treatment
in
the
provincial
hospital
did
not
bring
him
any
improvement;
he
could
not
move.
So
my
father
brought
grandfather
to
a
famous
tambalan.
The
tambalan
used
a
fresh
egg,
oiled
it
and
rolled
the
egg
over
the
skin
of
my
grandfather
where
pain
was
felt.
As
he
did
this,
he
uttered
word
which
sounded
like
Latin.
Afterwards
the
tambalan
broke
the
egg
Informants
from
Kawayan
and
Naval,
Leyte.
Informant
from
Biliran,
Leyte.
Informant
from
Culaba,
Biliran
Island.
'
Informant
from
Basey,
Samar.
Informant
from
Tagbilaran,
Bohol,
an
island
southwest
of
Leyte.
124
The
Philippine
Journal
of
Science
1957
and
placed
it
in
a
plate.
All
of
us
could
see
what
was
inside
the
egg.
We
saw
small
bones
of
a
fish,
small
sticks
and
a
tiny
stone.
My
grandfather
could
then
move
his
hands
and
his
feet.
The
tami:alan
told
us
that
my
grandfather
was
harmed
by
another
person
out
of
envy
and
hatred.
Twice
or
thrice
a
month
the
tambalan
visited
my
grandfather
and
treatei
him
with
an
egg,
till
he
could
walk.
Everytime
he
rolled
the
egg,
we
always
found
things
in
the
egg
which
were
peculiar."
The
mutya
stone
is
also
helpful
in
the
diagnosis
of
such
sickness
as
mentioned
above.
9
The
same
Bohol
informant
reported
the
use
of
a
crystal
stone
for
diagnosis:
"While
we
were
still
living
in
Bohol,
my
parents
called
a
tambalan
in
time
of
sickness.
He
claimed
he
could
tell
an
ailment
by
means
of
the
reflection
of
a
small
crystal
stone
which
he
found
while
taking
a
bath
in
a
river.
This
stone
appeared
extraordinary
and
was
different
from
other
stones
I
knew.
With
this
stone
he
ascertained
each
sickness
and
prescribed
the
kind
of
herbs
to
cure
it.
This
particular
tambalan
often
relieved
my
mother
and
my
father
of
some
of
their
pains."
10
Besides
the
use
of
fresh
eggs,
crystal
gazing
and
mutya
stones,
the
tambalan
identifies
sickness
by
feeling
the
pulse,
the
forehead,
and
the
temple.
In
Basey,
he
uses
sometimes
a
cane
to
identify
a
disease,
besides
using
the
said
cane
to
heal
the
same
disease.
The
tambalan
points
the
lower
end
of
the
cane
to
the
sick
part
of
the
patient.
He
then
whispers
strange
words
at
the
top
of
the
cane.
These
words
are
supposed
to
have
a
healing
effect."
The
patient
is
also
questioned
in
detail
about
the
places
he
visited
last,
in
order
to
determine
the
origin
of
his
sickness.
This
often
reveals
that
some
invisible
beings
"have
injured"
the
patient.
The
objects
"found'
in
the
broken
egg
are
be-
lieved
to
be
the
instruments
with
which
the
invisible
beings
have
injured
him.
One
might
distinguish
between
magical
and
empirical
treat-
ment
by
the
tambalan.
Magical
treatment.—If
the
tambalan
identifies
the
sickness
as
having
been
caused
by
an
offended
spirit,
the
treatment
is
to
appease
the
spirit.
One
can
offend
a
spirit
even
unknow-
e
Informant
from
Tolosa,
Leyte.
10
Same
informant
from
Tagbilaran,
Bohol.
11
Informant
from
Basey,
Samar.
86,
1
Arens:
Tambalan
and
His
Medical
Practices
125
ingly.
If
someone,
for
example,
happens
to
enter
a
territory
where
the
unzurukoy
(spirits)
are
living,
mostly
in
trees
or
bamboogroves,
to
cut
or
damage
a
tree
or
to
make
a
kaingin"
without
informing
the
spirits
may
cause
the
spirits
to
get
angry
and
harm.
the
offender.
The
offering
or
appeasing
ceremony
is,
in
the
main,
the
same
all
over
Leyte
and
Samar.
The
tambalan
asks
for
a
big
chicken
which
must
be
either
all
white
or
black.
This
is
cooked
without
salt
and
offered
together
with
other
food
such
as
cooked
rice,
cakes,
and
drinks.
Cigars
and
cigarettes
are
also
offered.
The
ceremony
is
usually
performed
in
the
early
morning
or
late
aftornoon."
The
procedures
and
materials
offered
vary
depending
upon
the
locality
where
found
or
on
the
tambalan
making
the
offering.
In
La
Paz,
Leyte,
for
example,
the
things
used
by
the
tambalan
are:
7
small
bamboo
tubes
about
4
inches
long
containing
tuba;
a
bottle
of
alcoholic
drink
(like
Blue
Label)
;
7
plates
of
biscuits—three
biscuits
on
each
plate;
7
eggs;
3
fat
hens
and
the
like."
Around
6:30
o'clock
in
the
evening,
the
tambalan
goes
with
his
materials
to.the
place
where
the
sick
person
was
supposedly
injured
by
the
spirits
(encantados,
umurukoy,
etc).
No
one
is
allowed
to
go
with
him.
15
There
he
makes
the
offering
to
the
spirits
and
prays
for
the
recovery
of
the
victim.
The
prayer
is
one
of
his
secrets.
After
the
offering,
he
brings
all
the
materials
back
to
the
house
of
the
sick
where
he
and
the
patient's
relatives
partake
of
them
at
a
banquet,"
In
other
places,
17
the
food
is
left
at
the
place
of
offering
and
is
not
taken
home.
Empirical
treatment.—The
distinction
between
magical
and
empirical
treatment
is
more
or
less
purely
theoretical.
Most
tambalan
combine
both
treatments
in
their
practice.
Never-
theless,
the
distinction
serves
its
purpose
in
this
study.
"Kaingin
cultivation
is
shifting
agriculture
and
means
abandoning
old
and
clearing
new
fields
every
one
in
four
years.
Informant
from
Palo,
Leyte.
"Informant
from.
La
Paz,
Leyte.
This
ceremony
is
called
ranagay
from
tagay,
meaning
"to
pour."
The
person
who
is
an
expert
in
panagay
is
known
as
mananagay.
So
in
La
Paz,
Leyte,
but
in
Palo,
Leyte,
and
other
places
the
tam-
balan
may
take
along
other
people.
"
La
Paz,
Leyte.
"Palo,
Leyte,
for
instance.
126
The
Philippine
Journal
of
Science
1957
The
use
of
herbs
in
the
treatment
of
sickness
is
as
old
as
history
and
is
known
to
the
primitive
as
well
as
the
highly
civilized
people.
This
is
so
in
the
Philippines.
In
Leyte
and
Samar
the
following
practice
was
observed:
if
the
patient
has
fever
the
tambalan
uses
the
plants,
(Janda,
panhaole,
hierva
buena,
halms,
hiova
mario,
and
camangyan
mixed
with
pili
sap.
The
plants
are
pressed
and
squeezed
in
order
to
extract
their
juices,
resulting
in
a
bitter
liquid,
reddish
in
color,
with
a
foul
odor.
Befcre
the
patient
drinks
the
liquid
a
short
prayer
is
said
to
bless
the
drink.
After
partaking
of
the
liquid,
the
tambalan
applies
a
portion
of
it
on
the
forehead,
on
the
joints
of
the
hands
and
feet
of
the
patient.
Thereafter,
the
herbs
from
which
the
juices
have
been
extracted
are
wrapped
in
cloth
and
placed
on
the
forehead,
in
case
the
patient
suffers
from
fever.
Should
he
suffer
from
asthma
the
same
compound
is
placed
on
the
chest
or
the
back."
A
patient
with
a
boil
or
a
swollen
part
on
the
body
is
treated
as
follows
:'
9
the
tambalan
applies
his
laway
(saliva)
on
the
swollen
part.
He
goes
to
the
kitchen
where
he
spits
a
part
of
his
saliva
on
a
stove,
offering
a
short
prayer.
He
asks
for
a
glass
of
water
and
places
leaves,
grass,
roots
and
the
bark
of
trees
in
it.
He
tastes
this
mixture,
says
a
prayer
and
gives
it
to
the
patient
to
drink.
While
sick,
the
patient
is
not
permitted
to
drink
any
water
except
the
above
mixture.
As
soon
as
the
boil
bursts
open
and
pus
flows
out,
the
tambalan
prepares
an
ointment
made
of
the
ashes
of
burnt
hielva
buena
and
burnt
Cochoachis
mixed
with
coconut
oil.
This
mixture,
called
lanta,
is
applied
along
the
edges
of
the
wound.
It
is
the
tambalan's
belief
that
if
lanta
is
applied
directly
on
the
boil's
opening,
the
opening
will
close
on
top
without
healing
the
boi1.
2
°
In
Eastern
Leyte.
a
headache
is
treated
as
follows:
the
thick
leaves
of
the
plant,
called
siempreriva
[Bryophyllum
pi-
natant
(Lam.)
Kurz.],
are
slightly
bruised
by
pressing
with
a
bottle.
The
bruised
leaves
are
then
placed
on
the
patient's
temples.
The
leaves
of
a
certain
kind
of
orange
plant
are
rubbed
together
until
crumpled.
They
are
then
applied
on
the
fore.
head,
covering
them
with
a
piece
of
cloth
long
enough
to
be
"
In
Gamay,
Samar.
"
Ibid.
Informant
from
Gamay,
Samar.
86.
1
Arens:
Tambalan
and
His
Medical
Practices
127
tied
around
the
head.
The
leaves
of
the
lakdan
tree
are
used
in
the
same
way
for
headaches.
In
other
parts
of
Eastern
Leyte,
the
lakdan
leaves
are
used
for
stomach
troubles
and
delayed
menstruation.
For
stomachache
and
diarrhea
in
Eastern
Leyte,
tuba.
leaves
are
boiled
in
water
and
the
liquid
is
drunk.
Tobacco
leaves
are
also
used.
The
leaves
are
placed
over
live
charcoals,
after
which
they
are
dried
and
shredded
and
mixed
with
saliva.
This
mixture
is
placed
on
the
stomach.
The
roots
of
the
ruda
plant
serve
also
as
a
remedy
against
stomachache.
The
roots
are
boiled
in
water
and
the
liquid
is
drunk
while
warm.
2
In
healing
an
eczema
in
Eastern
Leyte,
different
herbs
are
placed
in
a
pot
with
water,
then
covered
with
payao
(Homa-
lame=
Philippinensis
Engl.)
leaves
and
boiled.
When
the
water
is
boiling
a
hole
is
made
in
the
center
of
the
cover.
The
part
of
the
body
with
eczema
is
then
placed
over
the
hole
allowing
the
said
part
to
be
exposed
to
the
steam.
To
effect
easy
delivery
of
a
child,
an
orange
is
divided
into
halves
and
placed
over
live
charcoals.
Then
both
halves
are
squeezed
while
still
hot
and
the
juice
is
rubbed
on
the
stomach
of
the
woman
about
to
give
birth.
22
The
herbs
mentioned
above
are
also
ordinarily
used
by
barrio
people
for
self-cure
of
fevers,
headaches,
asthma,
boils,
and
stomachaches.
In
using
the
same
herbs,
the
tambalan
invariably
adds
his
famous
oration
(prayer).
In
Gamay,
Samar,
before
the
treatment
he
first
asks
permission
from
the
spirits
by
going
to
them
in
the
forest
where,
according
to
folk
belief,
they
appear
to
him
only.
If
the
spirit
appears
to
him,
he
starts
with
the
treatment,
but
if
they
fail,
he
waits
for
the
next
day
until
they
appear
and
he
is
permitted
by
them
to
start
treatment.
Some
of
the
herbs
the
tambalan
uses
are
gathered
by
him
on
Good
Friday.
On
this
day,
he
goes
to
the
mountains
and
gathers
the
herbs
in
caves.
In
a
secluded
place
in
the
moun-
tains
he
prepares
also
from
a
selected
coconut
the
magical
oil
he
uses
in
his
treatment.
At
midnight
of
Good
Friday
he
goes
to
church
and
then
to
the
cemetery.
23
The
lo-on
(fumigation)
is
a
well-known
method
of
treating
sickness
caused
by
"fear."
It
is
known
all
over
Leyte
and
"Informant
from
Tacloban,
Leyte.
'Ibid.
"An
act
called
turumanon
(a
sort
of
commitment
or
promise,
accord-
ing
to
an
informant
from
Culaba,
Biliran
Island).
128
The
Philippine
Journal
of
Science
1957
Samar
and
is
an
interesting
combination
of
magical
and
empirical
practices.
In
this
as
well
as
in
other
treatments,
the
tambalan
uses
bad
smelling
herbs
to
discomfort
the
spirit
and
to
make
them
vacate
the
body
of
their
victim.
A.
"classical"
type
of
a
tambalan
performance.—The
practices
so
far
described
are
more
or
less
common
all
over
the
islands
of
Leyte
and
Samar.
While
strongly
animistic
in
motifs,
the
practices
show
more
and
more
Christian
elements,
and
most
of
the
tambalans,
including
those
making
use
of
them,
regard
themselves
as
good
Catholics.
It
is
interesting
to
note
that
in
regions
that
have
partly
broken
away
from
Catholicism
and
have
been
deeply
influenced
by
other
religions,
the
tambalan
has
a
stronger
hold
on
the
people
and
his
practices
show
a
return
to
earlier
pagan
ani-
mistic
rituals,
and
is
hostile
to
the
Catholic
Church.
This
impression
was
gathered
in
the
spring
of
1956,
when
the
writer
visited
the
Kawayan-Almeria
region
in
Biliran
Island,
which
is
deeply
imbued
with
Aglipayanism
and
Seventh
Day
Ad-
ventists.
The
practices
of
the
tambalan
in
this
region
are
unique
and
show
a
reversion
to
pagan
origins.
In
the
sitio
Tubig-
guinoo
of
Kawayan,
the
tambalan
practices
first
the
pa-apong
21
(to
let
the
spirit
come)
ceremony.
A
family
with
an
ailing
member
will
gather
around
the
patient
in
the
living
room.
Four
tambalans
are
called.
The
tambalan
who
is
supposedly
possessed
of
a
stronger
will,
heads
the
group
to
contact
the
spirits.
When
he
has
contacted
the
spirits
he
welcomes
them,
while
his
three
companions
keep
quiet
for
an
hour
in
reverence
to
the
presence
of
the
spirits.
Thereafter
the
head
tambalan
converses
with
the
spirits
to
find
out
the
kind
of
sickness
the
patient
has.
The
oFsistant
tambalan
interprets
the
result
of
the
conversation
anti
announces
to
the
audience
the
kind
of
illness
of
the
patient
as
communicated
by
the
spirit.
There-
after
the
head
tambalan
tells
those
present
what
the
spirits
ask
for.
Usually
these
things
are:
A
chicken
with
red
feathers
and
black
legs;
A
black
pig
with
white
feet;
Additional
chickens—all
white
for
the
invited
spirits;
Seven
glasses
of
wine;
Seven
glasses
of
tuba;
Seven
pieces
of
biscuits;
Seven
pieces
of
cigarettes;
"Term
in
Cebuan
dialect.
86,
1
Arens:
Tambalan
and
His
Medical
Practices
129
Seven
pieces
of
rolled
tobacco;
One
dozen
eggs,
and
tilad"
composed
of
lime,
buyo
leaves,
tobacco,
and
betel
nut.
After
announcing
the
above,
the
tambalan
makes
a
loud
sigh
or
a
moan
as
an
expression
of
thanks
to
the
spirits.
Following
the
pa-apong,
seven
days
are
allowed
to
secure
the
gifts
intended
for
the
spirits.
After
this
period
the
pans-ad
(performing
the
promise)
is
carried
out.
This
is
preferably
done
during
a
full-moon.
At
about
seven
o'clock
in
the
evening,
after
cleaning
the
yard,
tables
are
arranged
in
banquet
form
and
loaded
with
the
gifts
intended
for
the
spirits.
The
four
tambalans,
dancers,
visitors
and
the
patient
with
all
the
members
of
his
family
attend
the
ceremony.
Each
tambalan
has
his
assignment.
The
chief
tambalan
serves
as
spokesman
and
talks
with
the
spirit.
One
assistant
tambalan
serves
as
interpreter,
the
third
acts
as
entertainer
of
spirits
present
only
as
visitors,
and
the
fourth
attends
to
the
patient.
A
big
fire
is
built
in
the
courtyard.
Musical
instruments
made
out
of
bamboo
and
a
rusty
piece
of
iron
for
making
sound
are
brought
out.
Suddenly
the
chief
tam-
balan
yells
loudly,
calling
the
spirits
to
come.
Five
minutes
later
he
covers
his
head
with
a
red
handkerchief
and
starts
to
dance,
symbolizing
the
appearance
of
the
chief
spirit
who
precedes
all
other
visiting
spirits.
All
persons
present
bow
their
heads,
close
their
eyes
moving
their
lips
silently
in
rev-
erence,
loyalty
and
homage
to
them.
Thereafter
women
with
a
red
handkerchief
around
their
heads
dance
around
the
fire.
The
men
dance
a
kind
of
tinikling
dance.
Another
part
of
the
ceremony
is
the
saucer
dance
of
the
assistant
tambalan
(interpreter).
He
dances
with
a
saucer
placed
on
top
of
one
of
his
fingernails.
While
the
interpreter
is
dancing,
the
saucer
turns
rapidly
on
the
fingernail.
In
the
end
there
is
a
community
singing
of
a
very
sad
and
sentimental
song.
The
healing
process.—When
the
community
singing
has
ended,
the
patient
is
laid
on
a
table.
The
assistant
tambalan
holds
in
his
hands
a
sharp
bolo.
As
the
chief
tambalan
works
himself
into
a
trance
and
the
patient
is
in
a
similar
condition,
it
is
believed
that
both
are
"magnified"
by
the
spirit.
Suddenly
the
chief
tambalan
commands
the
assitant
tambalan
to
stab
the
patient.
The
interpreter
stabs
the
patient
with
the
bolo.
A
preparation
for
chewing
which
can
be
bought
ready-made
in
markets
for
five
centavos.
Gifts
vary
depending
on
the
kind
of
sickness
treated.
70597-9
130
The
Philippine
Journal
of
Science
1957
Everyone
present
is
obliged
to
keep
quiet.
The
people
believe
that
the
patient
will
be
wounded
if
someone
talks.
Meanwhile
the
chief
tambalan
goes
seven
times
around
the
patient
mumblng
words
supposed
to
be
dictated
by
the
spirit
who
has
"entered"
the
tambalan.
He
then
blesses
the
patient.
At
the
end
of
the
ceremony,
all
eat.
Seven
days
thereafter
the
patient
receives
his
first
bath.
On
this
occasion
another
banquet
is
prepared
by
way
of
thanking
the
spirit
who,
according
to
the
people's
belief,
was
responsible
for
curing
the
patient.
26
The
unique
healing
practice
in
the
Kawayan-Almeria
region
in
Biliran
Island,
Leyte,
comes
most
probably
closest
to
an
old
pagan
practice.
In
this
region
the
tambalan
practice
in
groups,
whereas
in
other
parts
of
Leyte
they
practice
indi-
vidually.
Where
the
influence
of
the
Catholic
Church
is
at
its
least
here,
Aglipayans
2
'
and
Seventh
Day
Adventists
have
made
deep
inroads,
especially
in
the
barrios.
The
tambalans
have
been
most
unfriendly
towards
the
Church
here,
as
histo-
rically
shown
by
the
Bankao
revolt
of
1622,
which
was
actually
aimed
against
the
Catholic
Church.
26
The
rural
people
believe
that
the
healing
power
of
the
tambalan
is
only
one
of
his
attributes.
They
believe
that
he
can
also
control
the
spirits
of
the
fields
and
the
forests
and
can
even
check
the
influence
of
the
aswangs
and
cure
those
who
are
in
the
first
stage
of
being
bewitched.
26
"
Informant
from
Kawayan,
Leyte.
"
Local
term
for
followers
of
the
Philippine
Independent
Church
sect,
after
its
founder,
Gregorio
Aglipay.
"
The
writer
had
the
opportunity
to
interview
one
of
the
tambalans
in
Almeria,
Leyte,
who
was
the
focal
point
of
resistance
against
the
Catholics.
After
a
warm-up
period
the
tambalan
showed
a
notebook
which
he
kept
under
lock
deep
in
a
drawer.
He
showed
several
pages
of
scribbling-like
code
signs.
He
insisted
that
the
spirits
were
communicating
with
him
in
this
way
everyday.
No
one
had
access
to
the
drawer,
but
every
morning
a
new
page
was
written
by
the
spirits.
The
writer
had
no
time
and
means
to
test
the
truth
of
his
statement.
"
For
a
detailed
report
of
the
tambalan
and
witchcraft,
see:
Richard
Arens.
Witches
and
Witchcraft
in
Leyte
and
Samar.
Philip.
Jour.
Sci.
86
(1956).
For
the
ability
of
the
tambalan
to
control
the
spirits
of
forests
and
fields,
see:
Richard
Arens.
Animism
in
the
Rice
Ritual
of
Leyte
and
Samar.
Philip,
Sociol.
Rev.
(January,
1956).