Sunday, January 29, 2012

All About Agimat

There is something about the Philippines that we share with all the other cultures in the world. Man has always been fascinated by the supernatural and have longed to harness its powers. It has been believed that thru certain rituals, a supernatural attribute can be stored in an object and used in times of need. Here in the Philippines, we call these objects anting-anting or agimat.

Since time immemorial, a special object bestowed with extraordinary powers is kept by warriors, shamans and healers believed to give superhuman powers to overcome hostilities both human and non-human. Our ancestors believed that a special stone, a tattoo, a part of an animal or some mysterious object with the right oracion and rituals will protect from arrows, spears, swords and sickness. Some also believe that these anting-antings can make someone invulnerable and possess unnatural strength and speed, specially on a battlefield. Many are convinced these still exists up to these modern times.

There are several types of agimat and on my opinion, they can be classified by their form. Please note that I made up these groupings for the sake of organization and the use within this article. This is in no way the official category of Filipino mysticism and should not be treated as such:

Agimat na sinusuot. These are the most common of anting-antings. Under this classification are the wearable talismans strung on necklaces, bracelets, earrings or belts. Go to Quiapo church and outside of it is a line-up of vendors for amulets, herbs and "good fortune." Here you will have a good idea what a worn agimat looks like. As believed by many, the wearer of the anting-anting will enjoy its benefits so as long as it is worn.

Agimat sa loob. Because of the disadvantage of having a worn talisman which could get lost or removed from the body, some anting-antings are ingested or implanted under the skin. For the ones ingested, the agimat is orally taken and it never leaves the body until a little before death. The implants, however, are more or less permanent and can only be removed by direct damage to human flesh.

Agimat sa oracion. Incantations, prayers, chants or murmurings fall under this category. It is not a physical thing. The agimat here is the spoken verses evoking spirits, anitos, elementals or a divine being asking for power.

Agimat sa sulat. This group of anting-antings are the ones inscribed in a flat surface whether a shirt, handkerchief, wooden or metal surface, paper or even the human skin. It is a set of verse, image or symbol allegedly giving the wearer powers or protection. Damage to the agimat is said to weaken it, thus great care must be exercised.

Although the agimat exists in different forms, it is a common practice in the Philippines to combine them for more "efficacy." An agimat sa sulat can be combined with agimat na sinusuot by inscribing verses on the flat surface of the amulet. The agimat sa sulat can also be combined with agimat sa loob when the person eats a piece of paper with the oracion on it, or the verses written in a very small piece of paper then placed inside a capsule or nugget which will be inserted unto the skin. The agimat sa oracion can be combined with agimat na sinusuot when a believer chants the verses focusing on the amulet. The possibilities and combinations are plenty. And according to anting-anting owners, it is effective.

At the time of the Katipunan, many Katipuneros are taking care of amulets, oracions, exotic animal parts and other anting-anting. Wild stories circulated about where they got it and how. Some would say from an ermitanyo or old man in the mountains, some from a tikbalang or kapre and others would say it came from heaven. But the two most common sources of anting-anting is by inheritance or by creating one.

Image from J. Pedro
You can create anting-anting. But since I haven't done that and I believe I won't be attempting to do it, there are other sites that have those information. As for inheritance, just like any property, an agimat can be passed on from one generation to the next. According to "experts," there are rules in inheriting. Some say it has to go to the oldest of his or her children, or the eldest next of kin. It becomes the responsibility of the tagapagmana to strictly follow instructions or else the agimat becomes useless.

There's a lot more to it really. We are just scratching the surface of an interesting realm of Filipino Culture and things about the Philippines. More to come of these stuff.