| The patient
is the author's father.
Passing through the lobby of a fancy Manilla tourist hotel one
afternoon in search of restroom facilities, I was suddenly distracted
by the familiar sound of a West Coast accent and the words "Salem,
Oregon. It was an American tour group discussing their visits to
the Reverend Marcos Orbito, a local healer. This 'chance' encounter
proved to be the opportunity I had been waiting for to meet to the
world famous Philippine psychic surgeons.
They related fascinating stories such as one about a small boy
who had arrived in a wheel chair and who was, at that moment, running
around the swimming pool after a series of healing sessions. Another
man spoke of his successful treatment to quit smoking.
During my year in Tokyo at the International Association for Religion
and Parapsychology (IARP), I had had the opportunity to investigate
this practice. As best as I could piece it together, through talking
with staff, meeting healers and reading research files, there appeared
to be some very legitimate practitioners with considerable healing
powers. However, their abilities were sometimes inconsistent, compelling
some healers to fake results by substituting secretly introduced
dyes, liquid and animal innards for diseased human tissues. On occasion,
these frauds were uncovered, discrediting them as well as the entire
profession. As wealthy foreigners with life threatening diseases
are willing to reward healers with huge sums of money for what they
believe to be cures, it is easy to see how they could be easily
exploited by hustlers ready and willing to take advantage of gullible
and desperate tourists.
Studies in labs such as IARP have confirmed the existence of healing
energies and the ability of gifted people to transmit them. One
healer tested there was found to be able to alter bio-functions
in a subject at another location by sending 'psi' energy from inside
an electro-magnetically insulated chamber. A teenage Japanese boy
bent spoons and projected images onto camera film, and was said
to be able to appear and disappear at will. My objective was to
find a legitimate healer, observe him at work, receive treatment,
and evaluate the experience.
A crowded bus ride across town brought me to a small, ordinary
house on a quiet residential street. Entering the front door, I
took a seat among a small number of local people and watched as
they came forward, each in turn, for a session with the healer.
Rev. Orbito was a rather slight, middle-aged man, wearing the distinctive
embroidered Philippine shirt. He stood behind his treatment table,
a Christian cross on the wall behind him, explaining that he could
not diagnose any disease, but that he was simply manipulating an
unseen force, such as the invisible wind moves leaves in the trees.
He added that God had granted him this gift of healing, one of several
powers given to man, according to Biblical scripture.
I was invited by Rev. Orbito to observe, tape record and photograph
any treatments he performed, and I gladly took advantage of the
offer. These photos are now a unique segment of my slide program
- the only one where I warn squeamish viewers to look away until
images of bloody hands and bellies are over.
In a typical session, Rev Orbito would offer some prayers, and
then place his hands on the patient's exposed skin. Periodically
he would clench a fist and press down into the body, then tug and
twist as if to remove something against resistance, producing red
liquid and bits of wet, red material, which were placed in shallow
bowls. Assistants constantly wiped the area with cotton, creating
a confusing dance of moving limbs and an ideal situation for fooling
observers with slight of hand by introducing foreign materials.
From my personal observations as well as examination of my photographs
I can say that it certainly appears that the surgeon's hands reached
into the body and removed material, but I must admit that this is
truly impossible to confirm.
In my own healing session I simply requested a generic treatment
as I had no specific medical problem to address. I felt pressure
and movement as one would during any abdominal massage - and no
other sensations or experience of note.
On another occasion I took my father to see Rev. Orbito for work
on his alcohol problem and diabetes. Years later he is completely
free of alcohol and controls his diabetes with diet, and the validity
of Rev Orbito as a legitimate healer remains an open question.
What I can say, in conclusion, that I have no doubt that powerful
healers of many traditions are operating in the world today. The
challenge is to see through the smoke and mirrors and false claims
to find a real one.
Jim Martin, Lic. Ac. is an acupuncturist with offices in Hillsboro
(503-640-3668) and Scappoose (503-543-7266). He presents slide and
lecture programs about travels in search of strange and wonderful
people and places around the world. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org