In the Ancient times, the Babaylan were our Spiritual Leaders. And being a Healer is just one aspect that the Babaylan does. According to some online articles, Babaylans, Katalonan, Mumbaki were Filipino Shamans that are eloquent speakers and are the one who specialized in communicating, appeasing or harnessing the spirits (either spirits of the dead, ancestors, nature spirits and Divine Spirits). Their primarily role were mediums that channel the messages of the Spirits.
It is also said that in the absence of a datu (chieftain/ community leader) the babaylan takes in the role of interim head of the community. It is also believed that possessing such spiritual powers are not limited to the babaylan alone; Community Leaders such as datu has this ability in order to protect themselves during warfare or implementing justice system to a criminal which we know as kulam or sorcery.
Sorcerers or Mangkukulam are believed to possess powers that causes harm to other people. This kind of spiritual powers are branded by modern society as Blak Magick. But the Babaylan serve as a Check- and- Balance to either the Datu or anyone who practices Black Magick. Of course in order for a babaylan to fulfill this role, the Babaylan should know Black Magick as well.
Aside from these check- and- balance role, the babaylan also has the power to command the weather such the great Busalian of San Juaquin, Iloilo- Estrella Bangotbanwa who alleviated the 3 years drought by merely performing a ritual. Babaylan Estrella reminds me of an X-men character which is Storm.
But working with a Living Babaylan in this present Generation, what i found out is that not all Babaylans are Healer. With that I found out that there are categories of Babaylan which each of them performs their unique function in the community.
And they are the following:
- Babaylan as a Mystic: This type of Babaylan are the one who are proficient in Spirit Communication, Channeling and Mediumship.
- Babaylan as a Teaher: This type of Babaylan are the story tellers. Since they are the one who can communicate with the Spirits, they are the one responsible in telling the messages of the spirits to the community. They are also the Cultural Bearer who preserves the Ancient knowledge of the past and teach people on how to’s of life in the community. They are the School Teachers of our precolonial society aside from our Parents.
- Babaylan as a Healer: In this role of a Babaylan in preserving the life force within the human body, they both act as a Mystic as well as a teacher which simply means the Babaylan needs to Diagnose in order to provide the right treatment.
- Babaylan as an Artificer: In this the babaylan served as a skilled craftsman or inventor. In our modern time they are the creator who creates things that could be beneficial to our community. One of the person whom i know and close to my heart is Apung Lagitan Mamerto Tindongan, which not only can create things, build houses but also a Great Community.
- Babaylan as a Warrior: In this role of a babaylan we can see their powers in protecting the community through Martial Arts and Combative Warfare. A great modern example of this is our friend that is also a Traditional Healer who is Virgilio Mayor Apostol.
- Babaylan as a Judge: This type of Babaylan is the one who brings forth Justice in the community, the one who practice sorcery in terms of rehabilitative healing and teaches the lesson in correcting what is wrong into right.
- and lastly the Babaylan as a leader which in the absence of a datu can lead the community or even the pack of Babaylan as Punong Babaylan.