Experiences of Traditional Healers and Their Patients in the Bicol Region, Philippines


  • Nera A. Galan


Herbal plants, herbolarios, santigwar, suob, Traditional medicine, tulod


Traditional healers have been a pa rt of the Philippine Health Ca re Delivery System. Filipinos consider the albula ryo as the prima ry dispensers of health ca re in folk medicine a nd is referred to as the general practitioner. Despite the long history of traditional healers’ practice, there a re limited studies on their unique experiences as healers including the experiences of their pa tients in their healing a bilities. The purpose of this study is to document the unique experiences in traditional medicines widely practiced by both traditional healers a nd their pa tients on va rious aspects rela ted to sa fety a nd effectiveness of the herbal pla nts. This study used phenomenology a nd ethnographic resea rch approach. Da ta were ga thered from 30 traditional healers who used herbal medicines alone or in combina tion or with other traditional modalities, have been residents of the community for a t least one yea r, a nd have been practicing indigenous healing for a t least five yea rs. Three hundred pa tients aged 18 yea rs old, presently being trea ted or have consulted on several occasions with the selected traditional healers, were interviewed using the self-structured interview guide, which were valida ted through focus group discussions (FGD). Results showed tha t the Bicola no traditional healers a nd their pa tients believe tha t using herbal medicines stem from the perspective of the pa tients’ “feeling” sta te as well as perceived a bsence of side effects from its usage. Both the traditional healers a nd their pa tients a re cogniza nt in upholding the sa fe use of herbal pla nts through personal responsibility a nd accounta bility. Thus, the documenta tion of such experiences is gea red towa rds three domina nt themes such as second-ha nd genera ted knowledge, God-given gift, a nd self-discovery.