Cultural Mapping of Traditional Healers in a Local Community

Psychology and Education: A Multidisciplinary Journal 17 (8):807-821 (2024)
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Despite centuries of colonization in the Philippines, the traditional Filipino healing system has survived. However, as modern education has continued to spread and Western medicine has grown in influence, traditional healing practices have been pushed to the margins and labeled as unscientific or mere superstition. This also suggests that unrecorded information may be lost forever. For future generations to appreciate this rich cultural heritage, cultural mapping of traditional healers in a local community is necessary. Thus, the researcher explored, identified, documented, and analyzed the cultural profile of the traditional healers in a local community. Specifically, he studied the (1) background information, (2) description of the intangible cultural heritage, (3) stories/narratives associated with traditional healing, (4) significance of the practice, (5) assessment of the practice, and (6) references/supporting documentation of the traditional healers. The study was conducted in one of the local communities in the province of Quezon. The research participants were selected using inclusion criteria, and 11 traditional healers served as the key informants of the study. This study also employed qualitative research through cultural mapping, and pertinent data were obtained using participant observation, documentation, and interview guides. Qualitative content analysis was used in analyzing the gathered data. The findings revealed that the traditional healers have diverse background information, reflected in the element types, the geographical location and range of the element, and the related domains of the intangible cultural heritage. Likewise, the description of the intangible cultural heritage gave a wide array of descriptions of the history of practice, occasion/season, processes, and procedures involved, beliefs associated, settings, aims, social functions, and cultural meaning, culture bearer/s and practitioner/s of the element, mode of transmission, list of significant tangible movable heritage used associated with the element and list of significant flora/fauna used associated with the element. Meanwhile, spiritual guides and supernatural claims, healing severe cases, and being accused of malpractice or maltreatment were some of the stories/narratives associated with the element. In addition, traditional healing has historical, aesthetic, scientific, social, socio-economic, socio-political, and spiritual significance. Moreover, the assessment of practice exposed the condition/status of traditional healing, which is in danger because of the elderliness of the traditional healers and because no one is accepting the knowledge and practices. Furthermore, the constraint, threat, issue, or challenge experienced by the traditional healers is making false accusations against them. Nevertheless, traditional healers have identified several safeguarding measures in their traditional healing practice. These are transmission through informal education, identification, documentation, research, promotion, enhancement, and revitalization. Finally, sacred texts, books, pictures, prayers, and saints are the references or supporting documentation used in traditional healing. Based on the findings and conclusions, it is recommended to utilize the two research outputs: “Kaalaman at Kasanayan: Cultural Profile of Traditional Healers,” a booklet, and “Tanging Healing,” a documentary film about traditional healing for the preservation of local heritage, community development, and heritage education.

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