Swedish massage and Thai massage have been around for a long time. Philippine Hilot Massage has only recently been introduced outside of the Philippines but has been practiced here for thousands of years. I was excited to finally experience it.
First I learned that I had been mispronouncing the name Hilot. The correct pronunciation is like saying “he” and then “lot”.
The massage is done with virgin coconut oil, and the pressure is strong. It can be somewhat painful when they find blockages and use their thumbs to work out these blockages. The idea is to get the energy moving by using a banana leaf as a diagnostic tool. The leaf is skimmed over various body parts. It slides easily over parts that are not blocked but begins to drag at certain points. They say that these are the points of blockage.
I don’t know about the science, but like many indigenous healing techniques, hundreds of years of experience have resulted in the Hilot massage becoming a very important part of the Philippines’ contemporary healthcare culture. Daily Hilot massage was prescribed for people in areas without access to medical care and those unable to afford it.
I was also told that the treatment is very much about the supernatural gift of healing hands. Not just anyone can do Hilot – a person needs to be gifted in order to perform it.
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