I was fetched for a Sick Call, the administration of the Anointing of the Sick this afternoon. "It is my brother,"the lady told me. "He has been sick for a while. We brought him out of the hospital. Today he is asking for a priest. He wants to have his confession."
I rode in their van. (I believe it was one of those imported right-hand-driven cars which was converted to the Philippine driving standards). She was driving fast! Very fast!
"Father," the lady-driver asked,"do you believe in manananem (witch)?"
"No, I don't." I told her.
"Well, there are things that are difficult to explain." She said.
She continued to narrate to me while driving at a breakneck speed about how she got sick once. The doctors who she consulted and the tests done to her could not provide an explanation about the enlargement of her neck. She claimed that she had difficulty swallowing food.
She went to a herbolario, a quack-doctor, who prescribed to her some herbs to take. He taught her a prayer which he said would counter a witch's curse on her! The herbolario identified the witch that had put something on her. She claimed that after taking the herbal concoction and reciting the dasal (prayers), she got well. But not after challenging the said manananem with a knife and threathening her! After all, she firmly believed, it was she who had caused her all her pain and sickness!
She said probably it was the same manananem who was causing the pain and the sickness of her brother. He brother's feet are now swollen; he has difficulty breathing. He has short-gasping breaths.
She would have sent for a herbolario, but since her brother asked for a priest, she dared not go against the wishes of her brother.
I heard the sick man's confession, and anointed him. He received the Holy Communion.
At the church, a friend of the family of the sick man had a conversation with me. She told me that her friend had cancer. His doctor told them to bring him home as his cancer had destroyed a great part of his body. It was time for him to rest.
It was not the workings of a manananem, after all. It was more of the cancer cells wreaking havoc in the sick man's body.