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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

entry arrow12:36 AM | A Glimpse of Holy Week and the Mananambals of Siquijor

The three-day trek across the hills and dust roads of Siquijor -- on foot and on motorcycles under the heat of the April sun -- chasing after shamans can be both heady and exhausting. Coming back from it all, I spent the entire morning in Dumaguete sleeping off the bottled up tiredness and the excess of adrenaline and excitement. Later in tbe afternoon, it was off to Sans Rival for a little bit of civilized cake, and to Lee Cimbali for coffee, and to the new Jo's By the Sea in Sibulan for dinner of chicken. It was as if I wanted to immerse myself so quickly into my city ways.

But I can't quite forget Siquijor, and its magic, and its even more magical people so easily. This is a glimpse of the story in my head...

This is the mananambal from Barangay San Antonio, in Sitio Buac-Bato, Juan Ponce Dako, preparing the lana for the inadlip he will be preparing from the pangalap of seven Fridays...

This is apprentice mananambal Manong Noel chopping the forbidden ingredients for the inagdaut, or the hex potion, which includes chipped human bones which he has gathered from the old cemetery back in Siquijor town...

This is the small black pot of ingredients for the hex potion burnt to charcoal in the middle of the San Antonio jungle, ready for the masa.

But what I really want to write about is the brightness of these people, how beautiful and funny they are, how hospitable, colorful, and engaging. There's Manang Juling, for example, who engages us in banter while talking about how she once healed a young man of impotence on the eve of his wedding. There's Lola Lauriana who can divine the future and the spot of lost things, but plafully insists that people come to see her because she is the most beautiful mananambal around. (She's 88 years old.) There's Lolo Indoy whose quiet ways and unassuming manner almost makes him the poster boy for Siquijor shamanism -- and indeed he is. (GQ Cover Boy for the mananambal set? You bet.)

The thing is, so many negative things have been written (or blown up into bad horror movies starring Assunta de Rossi) about this beautiful island -- all of which have created the crudest perspectives and the weirdest superstitions which are largely untrue. That seems to be my challenge now as I begin the stories I will be submitting to Men's Health and Marie Clare and Inquirer: to dig deeper than the awful tabloid stories, and show the humanity of it all.

To be continued...

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