Hilot — meaning “massage” or “rubbing” in the Filipino language — is a holistic healing modality of the Philippines, taking the whole person into consideration, that is, spirit, mind, emotions and body, and regards health as the state of harmony among these three factors.
The actual Hilot practice is a folk healing tradition that includes a mixture of techniques, such as massage, acupressure, chiropractic, cupping, lifestyle advice, incantations, prayers, spells, heat treatments, herbal treatments, herbal baths, and dietary prescriptions.
The specialized Albularyo (Herbalist) or Manghihilot (Traditional Masseur, Midwife or Hilot Practitioner) takes care of the mother’s prenatal and postnatal needs, which includes manipulation of the uterus and positioning of the fetus for an easy delivery. Furthermore, assistance is offered in the actual birthing process, work is done to realign the pelvic bones, and regular massage for mother and baby is applied after delivery.
Traditionally, the baby is massaged with special attention for the legs, knees and feet to straighten and enforce the bones in order to avoid malformations. Common childhood ailments such as fever, cough, colds, chicken pox, and measles are also treated by the Manghihilot using Hilot Massage, herbs, and specific foods.