A study of alternative medicine in the Philippines is, inevitably, a study of the origins of its people and the amalgam of cultures and influences: Centuries of Spanish colonial rule and the indelible consequences of its religion, hundreds of years of trade with China and assimilation of its healing arts, tribal and provincial diversities with its profusion of folklore and mythologies, all redounding into the Filipino’s easy disposition for superstitions and the allure for the esoteric, mystical, and fringe.

Certainly, western medicine prevails – in the metropolitan areas, with its heart centers and hospitals plush with the accoutrements of modern medicine, in the provincial capitals and cities equipped with the diagnostic machineries essential for the commerce of mainstream medicine. But for the majority of the rural poor – including the urban-suburban poor – there are the chronic crippling economic disabilities that make mainstream health care unaffordable, often accessed only as a debt-inducing last resort.

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