Indulgence in superstitious beliefs is widespread among Filipinos. They are afraid of supernatural beings, especially those that deal in evil magic, sorcery, and witchcraft. Some of us, myself included, are overly gullible, willing to believe on very little evidence. Even in the absence of facts, we are incredibly easy to believe or accept obscure propositions as true.
The island of Siquijor is the one where stories or reports about uncertain or doubtful truths circulate. I have heard all about the myths like, a series of consequences will happen to an individual as a result of “barang” or “pactol” (translated as evil magic or evil sorcery or sorcery) that is performed by an individual possessing magical abilities, and that they are mostly evil in nature and their effects are malevolent.
I had a chance to visit the island last week when typhoon “Senyang” was also there. I was with my husband and children. Their families and in-laws also came. They were reluctant to come at first because of this widespread but unwarranted belief in supernatural causation. However, I successfully lured them in with the beautiful sites they are going to see, the fresh air that you don’t feel in the cities, the fresh green leaves of the old trees… they couldn’t afford to say no… finally traveled with me.
And so we toured the surroundings of Siquijor. We noticed that everyone was very respectful and naive. But we have also observed, that some trees, like the “Balite” trees, looked very old and haunted. Some roads that go up the mountains are deprived of electricity. Without the car, we wouldn’t dare to go around. The absence of public lighting at night would give one that intense feeling of fear, seeing the dark night engulfing their shadows.
But there were no signs of supernatural beings roaming the trees and mountains, and everywhere we’d been. There was no monstrous appearance of people that we put on the streets. There were no signs of monsters or witches capable of harming us.
I have come to the conclusion, after a few days on the island, that this irrational and unfounded belief may have arisen out of fear and ignorance. This can be eliminated if we take the trouble to educate them, those who live far from people capable of enlightening individuals, and can bring the facilities to their areas. This effort will give them the opportunity to receive systematic instruction and learning from which they have been deprived.