By Cha Monforte
In the midnight of the coming Good Friday, folksy faith healers the locals called as manambalay residing in Samal Island will have to “renew” their healing powers at the old Babak cemetery.
“Without agreement, we will meet midnight of Good Friday at the old cemetery in Babak and we just don’t mind each other while we never know each other, and we silently recite our respective oracions,” said 60-year-old Datu Tambalan (Doreto P. Palasan in real name), a known faith healer residing in Purok 5, Sitio Balite at Barangay Tambo in Babak district.
“For me, I and others whom I don’t know would knell to pray infront the big cross in the cemetery, others pray infront or atop niches. It would only take one hour for me to do the oracion, me alone and then I go home at 1 a.m.,” he said in an interview at his village Tuesday afternoon.
Asked on how many faith healers he had seen in last year’s midnight rite at the cemetery, he said around 20 but some already died.
He said that each time he does the oracion handed down to him by his maternal grandfather every Good Friday midnight, he is re-strengthened once again for another year of faith healing.
Datu Tambalan is known to have extraordinary powers that he uses to heal and help people. He healed the dying, people who have given up the cure of the hospitals and doctors, women with breast cancer on terminal stage, those sick of other types of cancer, cast out bad spirits from possessed persons, put thieves under torment until they admit their household crimes, reunited separated spouses, let foreigners come to the island to marry their chatmates in the internet by his oracion, lana (oil) and “healing works”.
He would also preempt manghiloay (poisoners) and mapikpikay (so-called givers of curses, sudden illness, black magic, bad luck spells), protect folks from various sickness, and even secure soldiers from being hit during ambush with his “habak” (amulet) sealed in a twisted bullet shell and many more wonders.
Island of Faith Healers
“Dire sa Samal perteng daghana ang manambalay, di malupigan sa kadaghan (Here in Samal there is abundance of faith healers, the island can’t he beaten for having many healers),”Datu Tambalan said.
True enough, there was that healer named Kapitan Bali (means broken or fracture) in nearby San Isidro who was famous of healing and reconnecting bone fractures. He already died due to stroke sometime four years ago.
But his brother has reportedly assumed Kapitan Bali’s folk healing at the PAL crash site in upper San Isidro.
Nearby, there is one healer specializing to cure those bitten by any snake specie, one Danny Cobra. This reporter approached him Tuesday past noon time but he refused to be interviewed, saying he was already interviewed by ABS-CBN sometime ago.
Now back to Datu Tambalan, he said that he had already cast out evils from possessed (gisaniban) persons like a teacher in nearby barrio and several possessed children, and cured many cancer stricken including three Japanese. Some of his patients stayed in his house for days until they were dispatched after getting well.
Bebeth Labis, resident of Barobo, Surigao, just reached Matambalan’s house Tuesday to renew during the Holy Week the treatment of his son who accordingly is under “laygay” of bad spirit. “Laygay” means slow death. Labis vouched for Datu Tambalan’s extraordinary powers that helped her son “nga gibinuangan” (fooled by bad spirit).
Another client of that day was a businesswoman who sought for Tambalan’s help to know who got the P30,000 money from her bag from among his household or neighborhood.
“I cured not less than 5,000 persons already,” he answered when asked of the number of persons he helped since he arrived in Samal Island in 2010. Many among those whom he healed are coming back or have persons referred by them to seek his help.
Asked on how much he asked from them, he answered: “Way presyo dire, depende nila (I have no price tag, it depends to them”. There is voluntary giving of money or donation to the altar after the healing session. He recalled that the poor relatives of one whom he helped “nga nagtinga na” (really dying open mouth) gave P20 and it is just OK to him.
Tambalan’s First Healing & Powers
It is in the island that he makes continuous healing unlike the on-and-off healing activities he made in Cagayan de Oro. He came for treasure hunting seven years ago but it was a failure and sooner he met his second love and got stranded in the island.
He was 10 years old after being given powers by his lolo when he was watching a basketball game, where suddenly a player fell down so badly on the court after a wrestle over the ball. The player writhed in pain, trembling. Out of concern, he went to his rescue and massaged him. The player got completely well, without feeling any pain in days thereafter. But the boy Tambalan took it as natural, never knowing that it was out of the powers in him.
The greatest surprise was that Datu Tambalan is a licensed architect. He said he had gainful employment at the last as architect of the known Zubiris of Bukidnon, of Senator Migs Zubiri. “But I chose to help, to heal people,” he said.
Asked pointblank where his power came from or whether it came from the black, bad spirits, Datu Tambalan answered: “Ang gituga sa akong oyuan, iya na sa Diyos Amahan, ug daghan kong mga Santos (What was given to me by my grandfather, came from God the Father, and I have many saints).
He also said that one of his healing “works” is praying at the cemetery during Friday, whenever such is needed by a client seeking solace from him. His “works” with the deceased suggest there is spiritism in him as far as his esoteric ways are concerned. Spiritism or spiritist sects have been in the country since the 1909, renowned spiritism authority Jaime Licauco wrote in his book on tracing RP spiritism, where he alternately uses the words faith healers and spiritual healers or just healers.
Moreover, Tambalan described Siquijor, the roots of his grandpa, as not a place of the wakwaks, but the place of mamamarangs (sorcerers) who perform sigbinahon (occult) to kill. He said his lolo and himself do not have this sigbinahon, which he said is gahom ni Satanas (power of the devil).
But the Datu has a motto, and this is: “Libuton mo ang kalibutan ug tabangan mo ang mga tawo (Go around the world and help people).” He said that at times he would be awakened at midnight of a sound of a vehicle or an ambulance carrying an ill person, or receive a person vomiting or on unstoppable diarrhea.
He admitted his healing is his livelihood that more than blesses him and his wife. “Kalooy sa Diyos, nabuhi mi ug nakatabang sa mga tawo (Thank God, we are sustained as we help people).
When I and a companion newshen were going out from Datu Tambalan’s house, a group of women Muslims from Sasa was entering his house. The tricycle driver who ferried them said one of whom is so ill who came from the hospital.
Meantime, while going out to the island’s old wharf, the habal-habal driver who ferried us said that the ongos, wakwaks (zombie-like and vampiric, bird-like creature in Philippine mythology) in the island had gone far already to the eastern’s fringes of the island, when decade 2000 stepped in.
There is still superstition heard among people from the rustic grooves in the island that through decades has been wishing for the Davao-Samal Bridge as the key that will ignite massive modernization of the island alongside the eco-tourism advantage of the island’s beaches.
But this is another long piece under journalism’s praxis that a news does not only tell about facts but also what people, some or few, believe- superstitious or not. (mindanaosunchronicle.com/Cha Monforte)