I live just a stone's throw away from the highway in a town dominated with Bul-anons and Cebuanos but I never thought that Manang Azun, one of my oldest neighbors who recently passed away was a firm believer of sorcery, gayuma and multi-purpose charms.
As kids, we like to listen to her yarns of long-ago but most of all, we liked to listen to her talk about how to make a person sleepless, retrieve a lost lover, or prevent a wedding from taking place, or techniques in how to capture the man you want although it was useless for us at that time.
Manang Azun kept an assortment of bottles containing a combination of acrid, sweet and earthy-smelling herbs marinated in coconut oil. These, she told us were gayuma or lumay, potions and multi-purpose good luck charms but I believed that those bottles just contained haplas or healing ointments for her rayuma.
Although half of the blood in me is of Sequijornon heritage (my mother's a full-fledge Sequijornon), I have a 50-50 stance on these beliefs but although we may shudder with distaste or laugh our heads off and will not take these folk beliefs seriously, there are still some who believe in them.
I may not have a photographic memory but I stocked some of what Manang Azun told us in my memory. You may find these useful (remember faith can move mountains)...
Do you feel that you are about to lose a loved one? If you feel that your special someone is losing interest in you? (in vernacular "bugnaw pa's simod ni manang") Here is one sure-fire way (but very unsanitary if I may add) to prevent his or her from leaving you.
* In a glass of water, wet and wring your used underwear (yuks). Using the same water, wash your armpits and then add a few drops of your tears. Use the water to make him/her coffee, tea or juice or any beverage he or she likes to have and serve it. Your loved-one will never know what hit him or her and will cling to you forever.
Do you want your loved-one to spend a sleepless night thinking of you? Or do you want to retrieve a lost lover? Manang Azun said this is what you will do:
* In a small piece of paper, write the name of that person and add the words "You will think of me tonight" or "You will come back to me". Burn that piece of paper and wrap the burned pieces in another piece of paper. Pour hot water on a glass and put the paper containing the burned bits of your loved-one's name on top of the glass. The heat is supposed to make that person restless. Within days the person you so deeply and desperately love will be on the road back to you.
While waiting for him or her to come back, Manang Azun gave one more tip.
* Hang a used or unwashed clothing of your loved-one who left above an open stove in a dirty kitchen (abuhan). The constant heat will cause that person to come back to you very soon.
However, if everything does not seem to work and he or she is already engaged to be married to another person, don't despair yet because there is still a last recourse.
* Before the wedding takes place, scrape bits of wood from the doorframe and from the threshhold of the house where the new couple will proceed right after the wedding. Next get some tips of the fur from the tail of a dog and a cat. Wrap it all together in a piece of cloth and bury it in the threshold of that house. Make sure nobody is watching as you do this. Next go inside the house and knock two clay stoves (kalan) against each other. Throw the stoves outside the house afterwards. Chances are the wedding will be postponed for one reason or another but if it will go on, the couple will not stay married for long.
If you have tried the (ridiculous?) suggestions above and nothing worked, it may be that you are not really meant for each other. Also, it is against nature and the moral order to force your will on another person. A relationship based on effects of spells or gayuma never lasts, if it works at all.
Published in Sunstar Davao, May 2, 2004 issue