healers - Alabat Island
The chieftain, Amy Jugueta, is a known healer. She was in fact the most sought after traditional healer in the area. Her clientele included both the Ayta community and the Tagalog and other residents in the island of Alabat.
She is quite young for a chieftain (at 50 years) and has been chieftain for 2 years. Her predecessor was also a woman and was her relative and was also a healer. The Ayta leaders are mostly so recognized because of their healing skills. This may be also observed in other indigenous communities.
She learned her healing skills from her father and other relatives. Her husband, Adonis Alpay, also knows a lot about uses of plants in the forest having worked in the forests of Aurora. Amy also has incorporated the practices of the Tagalog community, as well as what she has heard from mass media in the use of some medicinal plants. Her experience as a healer and as a person has also been enhanced by her experience in the Bicol region where she made “layas” for 16 years. Her knowledge and practices on healing may have been influenced by many factors, but her foundational beliefs and skills may be traced to her ancestors where she learned by watching from her relative healers.
Her family is traced from Lopez, Quezon (where she was born). She came to the island, together with her folks from Lopez, to seek better economic opportunities.
She does not ask money for her services but would accept tokens such as food or materials for betel chewing (betel nut, betel leaf, tobacco, lime).
She has four children by Adonis. The eldest Juliet is keen on following the footsteps of her mother and was deeply interested in the activities of the researchers. She is gathering materials (information on the flora of Mt Mabilog) which she says she will use when she becomes a teacher
Other healers and informants
The other healers were Romeo Susupin, Julita Gutierrez, and Alfredo Laynes. Julita Gutierrez is said to have come back from the dead, after which she started to heal people. She does not receive payment for her services.
Information was also gathered through participant observation in the communities in Bacong and Villa Norte. Two focus group discussions were conducted, and a walk through was conducted through Mt Mabilog