Lanahan, lumay

10:44 PM


Hidden in plain sight along one of Iloilo City Proper’s major thoroughfares is a line of tiny street-side shops that carry on a rich local culture that’s in peril of fading away. Iloilo, When In Iloilo, Culture, Lanahan, Lumay, Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay, Folklore, Superstition, Beliefs, Aeta, Community, Tradition, Traditional Medicine

OR HOW to fall in love with Iloilo.

Hidden in plain sight along one of Iloilo City Proper’s major thoroughfares is a line of tiny street-side shops that carry on a rich local culture that’s in peril of fading away.

Nanay Analyn has been selling local charms and traditional medicine near the corner of Rizal and Iznart, for nearly 30 years now – all the knowledge she has, she learned as a teenager from her grandmother, an aeta healer. Analyn shares that just a few months ago, a woman struggling to repair her relationship with a distant boyfriend approached her for help.

She called on her grandmother, who traveled from the hinterlands of Antique to Iloilo City, to perform the ritual for a lumay, a love spell that could bring the couple – drifting apart – back together.

In the shadow of the Jaro Cathedral, a handful of aeta women unfold banig on the ground – a makeshift stall for their wares – also carrying on the indigenous tradition.

Most Ilonggos have grown up with these beliefs. As early as infants, our mothers and grandparents pinned karmen to the inside of our clothes – pouches that resembled little pillows – believing they’d ward off illness.

As a child, I remember stumbling upon a large jar while helping my lola mama clean her altar and wipe away the dust. Hidden behind her Sto. Niños, Virgin Mary statues and her large Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria vigil candles, it was a large bell-shaped bottle with an assortment of materials inside it.

Later on, I would learn this was what the elders called lanahan – a form of protection, “panguntra” against evil forces and aswang. Its name comes from lana, the herbal oil believed to boil when an aswang approaches, that occupies most of the container.

Hidden in plain sight along one of Iloilo City Proper’s major thoroughfares is a line of tiny street-side shops that carry on a rich local culture that’s in peril of fading away. Iloilo, When In Iloilo, Culture, Lanahan, Lumay, Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay, Folklore, Superstition, Beliefs, Aeta, Community, Tradition, Traditional Medicine

The lanahan often contains and assortment of other materials believed to have mystical properties – uyangya or mata kabayo, said to an ingredient for healing concoctions; tagopaypay, a hairlike plant kept in cash boxes and buried under the pillars of houses for good fortune; chips of salibadbad, the bark of a rare tree believed to “unravel” the problems and obstacles of its bearer; among a laundry list of other indigenous charms. 

Lumay and our other unique customs are based on indigenous beliefs and superstition, yet we also remain rooted in the pious teachings of the church – age-old cathedrals and ornate edifice towering over plazas in each municipality of the province. Panay – especially Iloilo – has always been shrouded in mysticism and legend. Shaped by a deep history of folklore and hundreds of years of Spanish colonization, Ilonggos have grown into an upbringing that is both deeply religious and superstitious. It’s no mystery how Iloilo has come to enchant many a traveler.

However, the vast pool of tradition remains in peril. Nanay Analyn herself attests that fewer and fewer people are ascribing to the indigenous medicine they live by – which has been passed on from matriarch to matriarch in their family.

More than our heritage sites and natural landmarks, it’s our diverse culture that has enthralled many to visit and often return, again and again, to Iloilo. Spellbound by the region’s history and folklore travelers and tourists acknowledge that Panay has largely maintained the mysticism of millennia past despite becoming a growing metropolis.

It’s this eclectic marriage of the modern and the traditional that’s Iloilo’s secret lumay. And it’s this new generation’s responsibility and obligation to preserve and treasure the storied history of Ilonggo culture and identity – the Visayan charm that has drawn unexpecting guests to fall in love with Iloilo.

Hidden in plain sight along one of Iloilo City Proper’s major thoroughfares is a line of tiny street-side shops that carry on a rich local culture that’s in peril of fading away. Iloilo, When In Iloilo, Culture, Lanahan, Lumay, Rhick Lars Vladimer Albay, Folklore, Superstition, Beliefs, Aeta, Community, Tradition, Traditional Medicine

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