When people from the Philippines ask what I do, and I answer them by saying that I am a mangngablon or manghihilot (healer in the Ablon or Hilot traditions), many have responded by asking if I am a chiropractor or physical therapist. Baffled, I would do my best to explain what it is exactly that I do. In time, I realized that they were merely attempting to correlate our ancient, indigenous, spiritually-based medicine with modern Western practices or terminology. Although it is inaccurate to equate Ablon (or Hilot, as known in other parts of the Philippines) as chiropractic or physical therapy, there are elements of these two systems that are an integral part of it. Others have made comparisons between Ablon and the manipulative aspects of Osteopathy.

The term “chirothesia” is a compound word deriving from the Latin word chiro (from Greek kheir) for hand, and thesia (Greek: to place on). Chirothesia, therefore, is the laying or placing of hands on an individual in order to bring about a healing response. The scope of practice of a chirothesist includes the evaluation, treatment, and care for patients dealing with issues on physical mental, and spiritual planes. Their vocation of practice is based on natural and spiritual laws governing the human body by using spiritual, physiological, psychological, and mechanical methods.

When the terms Ablon and chirothesia are joined together, the latter helps non-native speakers to identify Ablon as a form of hands-on healing methodology that is holistic, taking into account distinguishable human qualities or characteristics that have an influence on each other.

On a physical level, structures that are addressed in Ablon are the uratpennetlasag, and tulang. If you ask native speakers what an urat (ooh-rot) is, one may say a nerve, another may say a vein, yet another may say a root. An urat is a structure that is characteristic of being channel-like with something flowing through.

A nerve sends bioelectrical currents, while a vein transports blood. A root depicts channels that are intricately connected with an origin and their corresponding distal terminations. In a modern scientific point of view, the urat are neurovascular bundles and vessels.

The pennet (pǝn-nǝt) are structures that are cordlike, running a certain length. In a modern scientific point of view, the pennet are the tendons and ligaments, or any structure that feel sinewy. The lasag (lahsahg) is the flesh or muscle, and is the structure that the urat and pennet channel through. When injuries occur, an imbalance of normal performance and physical sensations take place. A swelling in the lasag may occur that not only immobilizes movement, but also pushes, pinches, twists, and alters the location and flow of the urat and pennet. If not treated in a timely manner, the body’s natural reaction is for the surrounding region of injury to lock up and become naktang (nocktahng)—a hardened or stiff state, which is the development of adhesions as we now know it, thus further solidifying the impediments. As a result, limited bioelectrical or blood flow can occur, and even temperature differences just inches away. Chronic pain, stagnant energetic flow, and limited range of motion can result. This naktang state can also extend beyond the site of injury.

When injuries occur around the tulang (too-lahng) or bones, it is necessary to reach in between the two structures from all angles. By understanding the natural movement of the tulang, the body part can be positioned in such a way so that it exposes the uratand pennet for even greater manipulation. Depending on the condition or site of injury, it may also be equally important to work on corresponding structures distal, yet connected to the site of injury.

In expanding the definition of an urat as a “root,” we can take it from beyond a physical context into a spiritual one, including mental and emotional states. The urat is the cause that leads to the effect. If we fear something, the utek (ooh-tǝk) or mind- consciousness will become naktang and limited in its performance and reasoning, thus causing the kararua (kahrahrwa) or soul to either fight or take flight.

Our ancestors understood the importance of holistic health and wellbeing. They understood that at least 80% of imbalances were mental, emotional, and spiritual in nature. If the mind is constantly stressed, that stress will eventually manifest into the physical body. The soul will then be at unease with the situation, thus ultimately causing stress to the immune system, thus further weakening the body. We must look to the urat—the root of the stress, acknowledge how it affects us, and then learn to process it in order to shift the mind-consciousness to healthier mental, emotional, and spiritual states, thus gaining greater understanding, reasoning, self-control, and direction. It is important to release any stress through various means (e.g., physical and mental exercise), or if necessary, through effective communication with those involved, because it is through this means that there can be healthy interaction, thus helping provide limitless insights and solutions, not only to the root of whatever is causing unease, but also to bring about peace and harmony.

A no-nonsense approach to healing is adhered to, which has excelled in a clinical setting to help speed up the healing process of impediments resulting from, but not limited to:

  • Back problems

  • Stress

  • Repetitive strain injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, etc.)

  • Neck problems

  • Headaches

  • Nerve disorders

  • Sprains

  • Sport injuries

Some of my objectives are to research, preserve, and promote the indigenous roots of our healing modalities and bridge them to contemporary medicine. I have collaborated with various medical doctors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and other health care providers in the past. I hold a private healing and clinical practice, seeing clients undergoing physical rehabilitation or who are inflicted with a wide range of ailments that may include injuries and chronic pain, and even on an energetic or metaphysical level. I do not diagnose illnesses, but I do my best to seek the root of the problem.

The knowledge that I bring forth has its roots from my maternal and paternal lineages of traditional healers, and from the teachings of other respected elders. Years of clinical work has placed me in an arena that included a variety of ailments and imbalances, thus allowing me to practice and evolve in my skills, knowledge, and wisdom. In addition, being a lateral thinker has allowed me to see the interconnectedness of things, therefore understanding how each and everything has varying degrees of influence towards each other. This includes the importance of living in harmony with our body, mind, heart, and soul, and our interaction with other souls—be it an individual, animal, tree, the earth, and everything else under the sun.