Is Hilot just a type of massage?

Karisse Alzola of ATHAG demonstrates Hilot at the Philippine Trade Training Center.

Karisse Alzola of ATHAG demonstrates Hilot at the Philippine Trade Training Center.

People who are not familiar with Hilot often think that Hilot is just another type of massage. After all, that is basically what Hilot looks like. On the surface, the manghihilot manipulates muscles–very similar, it seems, to what they do at the spa.

However, people who have grown up with, or have encountered authentic Hilot, know that this is not the case.

Traditionally, Hilot is known for its therapeutic benefits–Hilot is used to heal. Anybody who has experienced Hilot, or who lives within the vicinity where there is a well-known manghihilot knows that the people who seek out Hilot are not there for relaxation. People who go to the manghihilot are seeking relief from pain, illness, or other discomforts.

The major difference between Hilot and massage, especially as it is understood in the Philippine context, is that massage is mainly for relaxation purposes. Massage emphasizes the use of a sequence of pre-determined strokes, which is applied to all clients. Hilot, on the other hand, follows basic natural principles and tailors the healing session to each individual’s unique healing needs.

The actual experience of Hilot, (even the more modern Hilot for Wellness) can also be worlds away from your soothing massage at the spa. Authentic Hilot can in fact, be painful, because the manghihilot often works directly on the problematic parts of the body. But with a good manghihilot, you can be assured that afterwards, you will feel relief. Depending on the problem, a few more sessions might be needed, but Hilot is very effective, surprising even skeptics with its speed and efficacy.

Hilot has been around for a long, long time. It had been practised by our ancestors long before the Spaniards came.Before there were even doctors in the Philippines, there were albularyos and manghihilots ministering to early Filipinos’ sprains and broken bones, attending to childbirth, and preparing herbs to treat imbalances in the body.

Hilot is not just massage–it is our ancestor’s system of healing.

For more information on Hilot, please refer to the book Hilot: The Science of the Ancient Filipino Healing Arts,  authored by Bibiano S. Fajardo and Ma. Aleli V. Pansacola, published by Anvil Publishing, Inc.


8 thoughts on “Is Hilot just a type of massage?

  1. Very interesting! I’d love to find a genuine Hilot practitioner here in South Florida to experience the healing art myself- Lord knows I can use it!

  2. Very helpful article. I am interested if there are written techniques to perform Hilot, as this is already offered as a short term course here in the Philippines. For research and for those who wanted to learn the technique.

    • Hi Apple,

      Thank you for visiting our website.
      We have not posted written instructions on Hilot techniques because learning Hilot requires face-to-face instruction and actual experience by the student. Unlike massage which is just focused on the strokes, there is so much to learn in traditional Hilot, because it is a system of healing. Written instructions also pose the risk of being interpreted differently by different people; and we want to avoid any misinterpretations.

      We also want to stimulate interest in Hilot and support traditional Hilot practitioners. For those who want to do research on Hilot, or want to learn, we encourage them to approach traditional Hilot practitioners in the area. The best way to appreciate Hilot and learn it is through a highly-skilled and experienced practitioner. 🙂

    • Hi Ben,

      Thank you for your interest in traditional Hilot.

      At the moment, our office is only in Pasig City, and it is where our skilled manghihilot are. If you are interested in traditional Hilot, you may want to visit our office—we are just in Brgy. Kapitolyo, about 10 minutes from EDSA-Shaw crossing. Please call and set an appointment first before you come.

      Thank you.

  3. Can u recommend auntie authentic manghihilot for my mom. Y rec is 619 209-9430 in Ventura county. Than in advance

    • Hi Pamelle,

      Thank you for your interest in Hilot.
      We are sorry however, our office is just here in the Philippines and as yet we have no affiliates in your area.

      Maybe you could try asking Filipino communities there, someone might know a practitioner there. Thank you and good luck!

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