BABAYLAN: History & Facts About Philippine Shamans

Here are the History and Facts About Philippine Shamans Locally Known as “Babaylan”

BABAYLAN – Here are the history and facts about the so-called Philippine shamans that many Filipinos do not know.

The term “babaylan” refers to the native Filipino healers and community leaders, predominantly women. In Filipino tradition, a babaylan is someone with the ability to heal both the soul and body.

They serve the community by being healers, defenders of wisdom and philosophers. These women can enter the realms of spirits or other states of consciousness without hindrance, possessing extensive knowledge in curing diseases.


A shaman serves as a mediator between the community and individuals. In very study about babaylan that European and American colonizers sought to control and limit the practices and customs of these healers during the colonial era in the Philippines.

Babaylans like Dios Buhawi and Papa Isio of Negros Occidental played an important role in fighting against the Spanish, before, during, and after the Philippine revolution of 1896-1898 against the Spaniards.

Their primary goals included achieving religious freedom and bringing about changes in land ownership through agrarian reform. Many followers of shaman traditions fell victim to the land-grabbing by the Spanish, including foreign priests.

Philippine shamans are also known as baylan or daytan (Bisaya), katalonan (Tagalog), and maaram (Kiniray-a). Other terms include mumbaki, alpogan, anitera, balyana, bayok, doronakit, mambunong, mandadawak, mansipok, mirku, munsayaw, and shaman.

Both men and women fulfill the roles of babaylan. They also give advice on planting and harvesting seasons based on their knowledge of astronomy.

Spanish colonizers forcibly suppressed the shamans, calling them as sorcerers and servants of the devil because they posed a threat to the church and the government run by the colonizers.

Despite the colonial threat to their existence, Philippines shamans became integral in the struggle for agrarian reform, religious freedom, and the removal of foreign powers.

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