Every Good Friday herbalists from around Siquijor and from the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao gather in San Antonio, in Siquijor’s pea-green hinterlands, to prepare potions made from tree bark, roots, herbs and insects. The culmination of this annual Conference of Sorcerers and Healers – now rebranded the Folk Healing Festival because it sounds less menacing – is the mixing of a mother-of-all potions in a large cauldron. As the mixture is stirred, participants gather in a circle and mumble incantations said to imbue it with extraordinary healing powers (the ceremony takes place on Good Friday in the belief that on Christ’s day of death, supernatural forces are free to wander the earth). It’s evidently a strong brew, with wide-ranging powers that include provoking a good harvest, securing a spouse or getting rid of that troublesome zit.

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