Written by Gail Howard
Tolentino brought me copies of Fate and Chimes magazines to read with articles he had written and articles written about him and other Espiritistas. While I read, Tolentino set up a movie projector so he could show me a movie of a spiritual operation. I watched the medium stick his hand into a patient's abdomen, pinch off an appendix, drop it into a bottle and lay his hand over the wound. The wound disappeared.
Though impressed, I still wanted to see it live.
Another afternoon, Tolentino had invited a medium and a few other people to his house. The medium was a sweet little woman, timid and obsequious, with false teeth that went clackety-clack as she spoke. She wore a crisply starched Filipina dress with huge sleeves, and the front was closed with more safety pins than buttons.
When she went into trance, she sat very erect and her voice took on a tone of authority. Through her, the spirit preached about peace in the world with your fellow man, the usual bit. Then followed a question and answer period.
Tolentino asked Spirit if I could become a medium.
Spirit answered that I could become a very good medium.
I asked if I could become a healing medium.
Spirit answered: Type of laying on of hands.
I asked if I would ever be able to do the spiritual surgery.
Answer: Not allowed yet to tell me.
Tolentino said he wished he had the gift of being clairvoyant so that the dead people whose statues he was sculpting would materialize so he could make an exact likeness.
Spirit said that was unnecessary since his hand was already being guided spiritually
I was not impressed with what came through the medium. The Spirit identified himself as Solomon.
Next day, Tolentino took me to an Espiritista meeting in a poor section of Manila. From the dusty road, we walked past five houses on a narrow walkway consisting of a double row of 2" x 8" planks stretched over putrid open sewers. We entered the shack of Mrs. Lenore Pangan, a 47 year-old nurse, at 1237 E Bambang Extension. A crowd had already gathered inside the tiny room.
Several mediums were in attendance. The mediums each had their own special gifts. They were either clairvoyant, or mediums for the voice of spirit, or healers. One medium was gifted with healing at a distance, some performed spiritual operations, some practiced the laying on of hands or giving spiritual injections; others threw magnetism (which I assumed was prana or life force). They were in various stages of developing these gifts. Many sacrifices and sacrificial missions must be completed before each gift was given.
The meeting was opened with a long prayer in Tagalog. I was to be tested to see if I could become a medium. They seated me at a small table covered with an old-fashioned doily. My left hand was placed on a Bible opened to John 17. My right hand held a pencil over a piece of paper. I was told to pray fervently and to ask for complete forgiveness of my sins. Meanwhile several mediums prayed over me, their hands throwing magnetism at my head.
Suddenly, I began scribbling furiously. I would have ripped up the doily if they hadn't placed fresh sheets of paper under my hand two more times. Then, just as suddenly as it had come, the power left me.
Hassie, the clairvoyant, said that while I was scribbling, she saw three rays falling on my head — one gold, one white and one pinkish rose.
Tolentino was thrilled. He said he had suspected all along that I was a medium.
Della, another medium, told the others that she had thought I was a medium when she first met me.
Ading Samonte, gifted with spiritual sight while in trance, said the messages I had 'written' named specific chapters and verses from the Bible. Mrs. Pangan told me to keep my writings because the first writings a medium does are very potent. She said she boiled her first papers and drank the water to cure a stubborn case of diarrhea.
Spiritism practiced in the Philippines is based on Bible scriptures. I was told that the spirits who came through the mediums were usually apostles and saints. They often referred to certain passages in the Bible apropos to the topic at hand.
Most Espiritistas were Catholic before becoming mediums. Though Spiritism was not considered a religion, most found their interest in Catholicism waned. Some were drawn to Spiritism themselves or because relatives or friends were miraculously healed by spirit through mediums.
Tolentino had Ading Samonte check my arm with his spiritual sight. Ading pinched a vein in my right arm and held his fingers as if giving an injection. I felt a little sting as if pricked by a needle. He asked if I felt anything. When I said a little sting, he murmured gratefully, "Thanks God." He had just been blessed with the gift of giving spiritual injections.
Next evening, the mediums gathered at Mrs. Pangan's house for the purpose of trying to get me to go 'up' — which I surmised was astral projection.
Della went 'up' first so I could see how it was done. It had taken three months of practice before she was able to do it. Now she had six months of experience.
Della Perez was a 43 year-old Filipina woman who looked 30, very pretty with perfect white teeth and even features. She had three sons and three adopted children who were given to her by unwed mothers. A university graduate and part time teacher, Della had been a devout Catholic before developing her interest in Spiritism. Her husband was a band leader.
Della sat at the table holding a pencil over paper while she prayed silently. The other mediums sang a song they had learned from Spirit as they waved magnetism at Della's head. Suddenly she began scribbling violently.
Mrs. Pangan took the pencil from her hand and Della stiffened like a board, shaking with convulsions. The mediums laid her on the bed on which she had been sitting. She continued shaking spastically as Mrs. Pangan gently asked her where she was.
"I see the white light. I am going up, up, up."
Della saw a gate and once inside the gate, she saw Spirit Michael on his horse. Mrs. Pangan told her to approach him.
Della made the sound of a snorting horse.
Mrs. Pangan scolded, "Tell St. Michael not to let his horse use you. It doesn't sound nice."
Other mediums who had received St. Michael observed that he was a very rough spirit. The medium's body always stiffened to receive him. Once Mrs. Pangan had to reprimand St. Michael because his "horse" kicked someone standing near the medium.
Della started bouncing as if on a horse. She was on a horse. Saint Michael had pulled her up behind him and they were riding together.
Then Saint Michael's voice came through her. The voice was gruff, spoken from the side of her mouth in the manner of an eccentric old curmudgeon, giving her a double chin look.
ST. MICHAEL: "You will see visions. Visions will come to you and the visions will be the means with which you will understand what you are supposed to do."
MRS PANGAN: "Why don't you tell her good St. Michael how she will know that you were the one?"
ST. MICHAEL: "You will see rays of light."
MRS. PANGAN: "What is the color of the rays that she will see?"
ST. MICHAEL: "White tinged with gold."
MRS. PANGAN: "Suppose she is not gifted with..."
ST. MICHAEL: "She will be gifted with vision. She will be gifted with vision."
MRS. PANGAN: "Can you give her a sign, good St. Michael?"
ST. MICHAEL: "I will come to you in a dream. I will tell you how I will manifest my presence to you in that dream."
(That night I did have a dream about St. Michael and that his sign was three pigs under a stove. But it was incorporated into another dream. It did not seem like an experience, but Mrs. Pangan said the sign was significant.)