Thursday, April 12, 2012

“Santigwar” and the Continuing Belief in Primitive Healing in the Philippines

If there are small pleasures which give us brief joy amidst a terrain of heartaches, there are those documentary/indpendent (indie) films which serve as eye-openers to some hard realities which we may fail to see and/or realize in our day-to-day activities. This has been the case when I watched (and re-watched) the short film “Santigwar”.

Santigwar is briefly described as the “Bicolano version of Central Luzon’s pagtatawas, a fruit of tradition that is existing in very generation.” The story essentially revolved around this concept when a child succumbed to death when a simple toothache – believed by her superstitious mother to be the work of a bad spirit – turned into an infection which the family failed to address. The family’s background (poor working conditions for the parents and a general lack of knowledge on medicine and proper medical treatment) contributed to the death of the child.

It was heart rending to see the child die on the very doorstep of the hospital where she was brought. It was, in many ways, a metaphor to the reality we have today: that many Filipinos die ignorant of their rights and privileges to proper health care. And this ignorance, sad to say, is fed by the poverty which still pervade in our Philippine society.

As time passes by and as technology continually transforms our lives in ever complex forms, activities such those primitive forms of healings gradually becomes artefacts of our past, of our ignorant past. But to simply dismiss them as nonsense is to remove a ground on which to anchor our present actions. We all need to know and understand our fellow Filipinos’ primitive beliefs and in doing so, we create a neutral place where easy communication can be achieved, unlike the mother of the child who realized the backwardness of her healing practices and beliefs a bit too late.

In the end, no amount of word or solid review can replace the joy of watching the short film. And so I encourage you to watch it yourself.

* Santigwar is presented by Conde Arte Productions in cooperation with PNSA USANT Chapter / Directed by Gerald Ian L. Mendez

No comments: