Visiting The Quack Doctor.
If you are living on a Filipino budget, i.e.; a frayed shoestring, then getting sick is one of the ever present fears that can spell out and out financial ruin. A visit to a private hospital might set you back
several thousand pesos for just a few days stay, and that is providing the hospital admits you at the same level of treatment and accommodation as they would a Filipino. Foreigners are well known to
complain about the primitive conditions and lack of adequate medical facilities and no self respecting hospital administrator would want to open that packet of buwad voluntarily.
Even if you are not turned away from the local government hospital, the conditions and treatment available may very well be hardly worth the few pesos it will cost you. If you don’t have medical insurance (covered in a future issue) then you may have to look at less costly, but also less conventional alternatives.
The Quack Doctors, as they are legitimately called, are practitioners of the native healing art of Hilot. When I trained in the Filipino martial art of Arnis, I was also taught some Hilot techniques. Mostly
bone setting and muscular ailment treatments using herbs and liniments as these were the main injuries caused by training.
The Hilot I was taught was all very valid and extremely effective naturopathic style medicine. What is offered as Hilot from the local Quack doctor is not all so legitimate in my opinion. From the half a
dozen Quack Doctors I have seen I would say that 70% of what they do is very good and effective medicine. The other 30% is pure mumbo jumbo! Lots of spiritual healing and waving of charms, mumbling and palming goats entrails and chicken blood to make it appear as if they operate without anaesthetic.
Having said all of that, I have personally observed an operation where I swear I saw the doctors hand go into the patient’s abdomen. I can’t explain it but if it was a trick then it was a very clever one. I also know of several rip off artists practising around, but they won’t see a foreigner as a patient.
Your genuine barangay quack doctor will see foreigners and they will treat you just as they would a local and most expect the same fee, up to you!. I usually leave P40 or P50, but my wife will leave P20.
I have been treated for skin rashes, ear aches, tooth aches, pulled muscles and G.I. tract problems, all very successfully. My wife has been misdiagnosed by one so called famous quack operating indown near Colon, but thankfully no harm was done. When she was pregnant it was the quack doctor who was successful in turning the baby so she was no longer a breach. Our western trained obstetrician was too worried to risk it! Of course the wizened old hag we went to has been bringing Filipinos into this world since WW2!
I think there has to be a lot of value in local healers. These people have been practising their medicine for generations, centuries in fact and long before the arrival of the Spaniards. They must have a better than 50% success rate or else by now the people would be wise to them and few would attend their practise for treatment.
If it is something serious that requires micro surgery, or a major illness or disease then I would still seek western medical help. For many everyday ailments however, I truly believe the local Hilot practitioner, the Quack Doctor can offer very affordable relief and treatment. Over the many years the same ailments and maladies would have presented themselves time and time again. These quacks were for many years the only form of medicine available, they can’t all be charlatans and not all of their treatment mere trickery. Logic would dictate sufficient veracity in their methods to have kept them in business down through the ages, especially in a society where not so long ago you would not be just tarred and feathered for being a snake oil salesman, you would be executed.
Many Quacks are also the village witch doctor, so you can see them if the Onggus are giving your pigs a hard time. We lost eight in a row (along with most of the piggeries in the area) and it was only after the quack did his thing that we were Onggu free and since then, no more losses. Of course this was about the same time we put up flyscreens around the styes to keep the birds out. The birds spread disease from one farm to another, but we know it was really the Onggu!
If you have a problem you think the Quack might fix, then have your Asawa take you to them. She will know where to find one and what’s even better, they will charge so little you will feel guilty feeling the relief from their treatment! Some of their treatment may seem a little bizarre, but it usually works very quickly. I have had a long standing heat rash cleared up after just one spitting! The quack chewed on some herb, then spat on my rash and it was clear within 24 hours! Another time I spent an hour with a bit of grass sticking out of my ear to cure chronic ear ache brought on by too much scuba diving. I looked a little strange with a green weed in one ear but the pain relief was almost instantaneous. Keep an open mind and give them a go, if pain persists, see a doctor etc!