Written by Gail Howard
When I climbed off the table, a Spirit who identified himself as Saint James spoke to me through the medium. Spirit asked if I was prepared to make sacrifices to become an instrument of the Lord.
I answered, "Yes."
He then asked me if I would go on a mission in six days. Every third Monday of the month was a high frequency day when Spirits came through strongest.
I promised the Spirit I would go to the province of Pangasinan, 250 kilometers north of Manila. There I'd learn what my potential gifts could be.
Spirit drew up a contract for me to sign. The medium's hand flew across the paper, writing at an amazing speed. It was a very distinctive script, more like Arabic than Western script.
Spirit warned me that such a covenant with the Lord was a very serious thing and that if I did not keep my word, He would not be lenient with me.
I gulped, and then signed it.
Mediums must work and sacrifice for their gifts. One medium had to fight a live tiger with his bare hands every night for three consecutive nights for his gift of surgery. Hassi Ilocano had to climb 25 miles of rough mountainous terrain for her clairvoyance. Others had to meditate on a mountain top for two weeks without food or water. Tony Agpaoa had to hang on a cross every year for a couple of weeks during Holy Week, with thorns through his hands, and without food.
I only had to break my arm and take a six-hour bus ride.
On the appointed day, I went to Mrs. Pangan's house to fulfill my mission in Pangasinan. When I arrived, I heard angry voices arguing. One of the mediums said Spirit had said Della was not to accompany me on this mission. Mrs. Pangan had heard that she was. Mrs. Pangan was worried that the young male mediums were trying to get me to go alone so they could try their luck with me. She did not want any of them making advances to me so that I would hold their actions as men against Spiritism. She was so furious with the mediums, Camilo and Tony, that she canceled the trip.
I reminded Mrs. Pangan that I had made a solemn oath to God that I would complete this mission and that it could not be broken. Furthermore, I explained, I had traveled in dozens of countries and lived for over a quarter of a century, and I certainly knew how to put in their places young upstarts like these. I also convinced her that I'd understand that the actions of weak men had nothing to do with Spiritism. So, we caught the bus to Pangasinan.
During the six-hour bus ride, Mrs. Pangan regaled me with stories and experiences of the Espiritistas in her loud voice, full volume. The stories were very interesting to me, and I am sure that passengers even at the back of the bus were entertained — if not converted. I winced a little when she blared in her megaphone voice about virginity in the middle classes in the Philippines.
She told me of her visit to an old prison on the first day it was opened to the public. Famous Philippine patriot Jose Rizal, who wrote Noli Me Tangere in 1886, died in that prison. Mrs. Pangan could hear the moaning of earthbound souls who were still suffering there, not knowing they were dead. They were locked in an eternity of suffering in that prison. She explained to the departed souls that they did not belong on this earthly plane, that they should pray to be led to 'the other side' where they belonged.
We arrived after dark in Pangasinan. I treated the group to dinner and the total bill came to about one dollar. The Center was a shack about half a kilometer from town. Mediums filled with Holy Spirit were giving speeches. When it was Mrs. Pangan's turn, she could not be filled with the Holy Spirit. She thought it was because of her anger that afternoon.
Because I was the guest, I was called on to say a few words to the congregation. My speech was the only one I understood, and the only one most of the gathering did not understand.
At the Center, I watched operation after operation until I had had enough. While the last few patients were being treated, I retired to a corner to meditate and pray.
Then it was time for me to try to go 'up.' I scribbled but I never reached the point I had reached at Mrs. Pangan's house, yet I felt very light headed and ready to leave my body. I was able to give 'injections' by transference of power. Mrs. Pangan was delighted to feel the prick of the 'needle.'
Never one to waste a trip — and since it was so close — Mrs. Pangan, Della and I made a quick jaunt to Baguio, a summer resort 5,000 feet high in the mountains. We stayed at the aptly named Pines Hotel, set in a forest of pine trees. In spite of the cool temperature, rumor had it that if one ate dog meat (a specialty there), and did not take a shower before going to bed, one would sweat all night in spite of the cold climate. Naturally, I had to test the theory. It must have been a small dog because there were many small bones in the stew. I did not take a shower. And I did sweat that cold night.
We made another excursion to Banaue to see the rice terraces built more than 2,000 years ago. The terraces were similar to those in Machu Picchu in Peru but on a much grander scale — 400 square kilometers of them. Filipinos call Banaue the eighth wonder of the world.
We rejoined the other Espiritistas and then made sacrificial missions to Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, where poor people flocked for the free operations and healings.
Every other Saturday in Manila, Guillermo Tolentino opened his home for Espiritista meetings and operations. This day, Juan Blanche was there, a healer whom I had not seen perform surgery before. Blanche had a unique style: he made the initial incision in the skin using someone else's finger.
The first patient climbed on the table for an operation. Blanche held my finger pointing down at the body, about 12 inches above the skin of the patient. With a sharp swipe in the air with my finger, an incision about an inch long appeared in the flesh of the patient. Blanche proceeded with his operation, sticking his fingers into the slit made by the Qi or Ch'i energy that emanated from my finger.
I saw so many operations that day, I ceased to be amazed.
When I returned to my hotel, I saw Leo Gilson sitting in the dining room. Neither of us knew the other was in the Philippines. I had dated Leo years before in the United States. By chance we had run into each other in Takaroa when his ship had docked in the Tuamoto Islands.
When I told Leo about the spiritual operations, he scoffed. I dragged him to the next meeting to see for himself. The medium stuck Leo's hand inside the woman's stomach so that he felt the intestine. Afterward, Leo was so stunned, he couldn't talk.
Another friend I ran into by accident was Ann McPhie, whom I had known in Tahiti and Australia. Ann was en route from Australia (where she had left her husband for the final time), to the United States. Her seven year-old daughter, Teru, required serious eye surgery. Teru's eyes constantly watered and she was seeing double images.