The anting-anting, the Philippine amulet, is an essential part of the Filipino folk credo and mythological makeup.
Although it has undergone an evolution of context, commerce and use, the anting-anting still figures heavily in the daily lives of rural folk. Steeped in myth and religion, the anting-anting links to the Filipino's belief in the soul and his ideas on leadership, power, nationalism and revolution, and contributes a fascinating facet to the complex rural psyche.
Its mythological roots precede Spanish colonization and Catholicism. Long before the Spaniards came the natives worshipped their ancestral anitos and a host of gods, and among the Tagalogs, Bathala (Infinito Dios) reigned supreme. This ancestral spirituality laid the rudiments for the anting's body of beliefs and its variety of powers. Centuries of colonial Catholicism further provided many esoteric and pagan elements, incorporating religious icons and concepts — the Holy Spirit (Ispiritu Santo), Holy Trinity (Santisima Trinidad), Holy Family (Sagrada Familia), Virgin Mother (Virgen Madre), the Eye, and many more —into the credo of anting-anting.
In its revolutions and wars, in the recurrent struggles of the poor and marginalized against the invaders and colonizers, in the conflicts and skirmishes against the rich oppressors, the anting-anting has been the essential part of the Filipino battle gear, worn with the belief that its spiritual and magical powers will provide invincibility, protection or the edge that would shift the imbalances of power into parity.
To the millenarians of Mount Banahaw and
the other societies, brotherhoods and religious cults, the Infinito
Dios (Bathala), the ancient Tagalog God, is the most powerful. The Infinito Dios was
used as amulet, drawn on vests worn to deflect the bullets from the invading American forces.
In the Philippines, anting-anting is all-inclusive. Some places refer to it as agimat, bertud, or galing. Often, it is referred to simply as: "Anting." May anting iyan. . . . Malakas ang anting.
In its most popular and generic form, the anting-anting is an amulet, inscripted or engraved, worn as a neckpiece. But it exists in many other forms. It could be a prayer (orasyon) in short esoteric combinations of colloquial and Latin mumbo-jumbos, written in a piece of paper, folded and walleted, or sewn in a small cloth pouch, worn pinned, exposed or hidden from view. Or, It could be a small stone, a crocodile tooth or a piece of dried fruit, the latter sewn in a pouch.
Of the commercial anting-antings, the
most popular is the one used for exorcism of the nakulam
or na-engkanto (hexed
or bewitched). Then there are those used as gayuma (love charms),
one of which is the "soft" anting - "malambot na
anting" — to which is attributed the holder's easy
ways with women. There are antings for business and good fortune, for travel, passing exams and easy childbirths.
There are amulets to protect against physical dangers—snakes,
fires, accidents, ambushes and bullets; amulets to protect against evil
spirits—nuno sa punso, black dwarfs, tikbalangs (half-man half-horse
creatures), and other elementals. And there is the macabre and ghoulish anting, the powers obtained and sustained from regular drinking
of shots of lambanog drawn from a large glass container (bañga) with an alcohol-preserved aborted fetus at the bottom.
Empowering and Recharging
The opportune time for anting-anting empowerment or renewal is Holy Week – especially eight o'clock in a cemetery on Good Friday, the best time for antings to be granted its special powers or to be renewed.
The empowerment and renewal ritual is rich in concoctions of prayers and incantations, either whispered (bulong) or written (oracion). in a language potpourri of pig-Latin and rural patois.
On Good Fridays, anting-anting holders gather to test and demonstrate their powers and invincibility. Orasyons (oraciones) figure heavily in these rituals: the kabal at kunat oracion for surviving bloodless bolo hacks, the tagaliwas to cause bullets to deflect, the pamako to paralyze and the tagabulag to blind the enemy. Awed witnesses are never lacking for these demonstrations of anting-power.
Many healers and albularyos are believed
to be in the possession of some form of anting-anting. The possession
of such makes it more likely that the healer's use of prayers, either
as bulongs or orasyons, common in many indigenous healing modalities,
will be more effective in helping to bring about a cure.
Rural mainstream, cultist appeals
and urban fringe.
A Friday visit to that part of the Quiapo market that collars the church will find a profusion of stalls selling herb and potions, all colors of witchcraft candles, rosaries, statues and icons, and of course, generic and "commercial-grade" anting-antings in a dizzying array of shapes and sizes, cabalistic inscriptions and icon engravings, for whatever protective need you can imagine.
But beware, don't
try it with bolo hacks.
|Godofredo U. Stuart|
|Erny Baron's Triangle||Santo Nino Healing Rituals|
|Kulam||Tawas, Lunas, Bulong, Orasyon|
Sources and Suggested Readings