The Magic of Siquijor (The Dark Side)
For several years I have searched the island hoping to find a genuine mangkukulam or mambabarang (witch). I have talked to many of the island’s residents and most agree that mangkukulams probably do not exist. However, the same people have also advised me to be very careful in my search.
There is a simple difference between a Mangkukulam and a Mambabarang. The Mangkukulam needs to use a piece of the proposed victim’s personal property. The more powerful Mambabarang needs only the memory of the victim’s face to cast a spell.
Most of the healers (mananambals) that I have spoken with deny the very existence of witches in general. On the other hand, some claim that they can only heal illnesses caused by dark spirits and that they direct individuals sick from natural causes to medical doctors. Regardless of their stance on the issue, the majority of the healers offer some sort of potion or amulet to keep evil spirits at bay.
In my quest to locate a local mangkukulam (or mambabarang) I met a very talkative healer that nervously asked to remain anonymous. He informed me that if a “bad side healer” would reveal their identity they would be killed. He assured me that it would take me many years to win the confidence of a witch to a degree that they would expose themselves.
It has been said that most mangkukulams prefer to notify their “subject” that they have been cursed. Consequently, I am quite confident that the power of suggestion plays a vital role in the successful casting of a spell.
Though I have never personally met an authentic mangkukulam / mambabarang, or seen proof of their powers, I cannot dispute their existence. Considering the numerous tales of sorcery, and the level of fear that is often present whenever the subject of witchcraft surfaces, who can really say? As for me, I will continue my search so hopefully one day I can witness the kulam first hand.