PASIG CITY, Philippines- “Around four years ago, I already received Extreme Unction and Viaticum,” Fr. Columbano Adag, OSB, cheerfully reveals. “I already asked for forgiveness from the community. I was ready to go.”
Fr. Adag is a monk priest from the Monastery of the Transfiguration, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. With his smiling countenance and frequent laughter, it is difficult to imagine the seriousness of the story he is telling. And yet it is a remarkable true story that has inspired so many people who know him.
“Before, I was really in so much pain,” Fr. Adag recalls. “There were days when I found it difficult to get up and I needed a personal assistant to help me with my activities. On other days, I used a walker to help me get around because of the pain.”
So he went to the doctor, where tests revealed that his uric acid level was very high. He was given a lot of painkillers, and underwent several tests, including a CT scan and three MRIs from hospitals in different cities. He also went to several specialists.
When he came to Metro Manila, he underwent further testing in the nuclear medicine unit of a well-known hospital. It was then that he found out that his kidneys were already failing.
One of the specialists recommended further medical procedures and dialysis. However, his nephrologist firmly said no and advised strongly against those procedures. “He said it would destroy me,” Fr. Adag said. “So I decided to seek other ways of healing.”
Cleansing the system
“When he was first brought here, Fr. Adag was weak and in pain,” Albularyo Bibiano “Boy” Fajardo said. “But when I read his pulse and felt his back, I strongly felt that it was still doable. There was a good chance that we could help him regain his health.”
“I explained to Fr. Adag that we would need to do Hilot every other day and he would need to be strict about his diet,” Albularyo Boy said. “He would also need to take herbs that would address his condition. I explained that in traditional Hilot, aside from the kidneys, we do a cleansing of the digestive system as well. It is very important to cleanse and address issues of the digestive system, because that is where most of the problems come from.”
Fr. Adag agreed and zealously complied with his regimen. He endured the painful Hilot sessions, bitter herbs, and diet restrictions. He even went as far as texting Albularyo Boy before eating, to ask if he was allowed to eat particular dishes that were served to him.
Fr. Adag’s determination to get well paid off. His creatinine levels went down to normal levels, so there was no need for dialysis anymore. His other tests also improved. But most importantly, he was feeling much better, and the pain was significantly less.
After the first time he went to ATHAG, when he went home to Malaybalay after some 15 days of intensive Hilot and herbal healing and healthy eating, the Benedictine community and parishioners were very surprised at the dramatic change that they saw in him. People asked what he did. And he told him it was Hilot at ATHAG.
Some four years after the diagnosis that his kidneys were failing, Fr. Adag still continues to take his herbs and have regular Hilot sessions. Now eighty years old, Fr. Adag gleefully shares some good news: according to his last ultrasound, his kidneys were already “normal.” Fr. Adag laughed, saying, “The doctors could not understand how my kidneys are now normal.” “It’s funny,” he continues, “my uric acid, which used to be very high, is now actually “low.”
The pain, which used to be a ten, on a scale of one to ten, he says is now less than a five, and just happens very occasionally. And while he always brings with him a cane, he explains it is really just for insurance—his doctor told him to bring it just in case the ground is slippery. He does not really need it, because he can walk unaided.
Albularyo Boy, who has known Fr. Adag since his high school days in San Beda, is very happy at this welcome development. “It is very rare for people to have this kind of discipline and commitment,” Albularyo Boy said. “But it shows what can happen with Hilot and when a person takes responsibility for his health and healing. “The important thing to remember is that I, as an Albularyo, and the Manghihilot of ATHAG, we are just facilitators and channels. We are only here to help and guide people on how to regain their health. Ultimately, and God willing, the person is responsible for his own healing.”