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Anito is a collective name for the pre-Hispanic belief system in the Philippines. It is also used to refer to spirits, including the household deities, deceased ancestors, nature-spirits nymphs and diwatas (dryads). Ancient Filipinos kept statues to represent these spirits, ask guidance and magical protection. Much of the tradition has been Christianized and incorporated into Folk Catholicism.
During the pre-Hispanic period, babaylan, functioned as shamans and spiritual leaders and mananambal were for folk healers. At the onset of the Colonial era, the suppression of the babaylans and the native Filipino religion gave rise to the albularyo. By exchanging the native prayers and spells with Catholic oraciones and Christian prayers, the albularyo was able to synchronize the ancient mode of healing with the new religion.
Albularyos employ herbs, alum, coconut oil, etc., in their healing practices as well as various prayers, chants and "supernatural" cures—especially for cases involving supernatural causes. As time progressed, the albularyo became more prominent in rural areas in the Philippines. Lacking access to scientific medical practices, rural Filipinos trusted the albularyos to rid them of common (and sometimes believed to be supernatural) sicknesses and diseases.
However, the role of the albularyo was slowly overshadowed by the rise of modern medical facilities. Urbanization gave the masses access to more scientific treatments, exchanging the chants and herbs of the albularyos with the newer technologies offered by the medical field. Still, albularyos flourish in many rural areas in the Philippines where medical facilities are still expensive and sometimes inaccessible.
Some of the rituals observed by Filipino Folk Healers include:
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