Written by Gail Howard
Of course, I told Ann about the Espiritistas. What happened next was published in the March 1966
issue of Fate magazine. The article was reprinted in Harold Sherman's book, Wonder Healers of the
Philippines, (1967; pp 285 to 291).
As told to B. Ann Slate
"It was a sweltering night in Manila in July, 1964. My seven-year-old daughter, Teru, and I were taking the long way around from Australia to our new home in California. Our first stop was the Philippines. Perhaps I'd chosen the Orient route to stall for time, putting off the dreaded diagnosis about Teru's eyes when we reached Los Angeles. There was something wrong but our Australian family doctor had refused to commit himself and only urged we get a specialist's opinion. In order to read, Teru had to hold a book right under her nose and her eyes constantly ran like two waterfalls.
"A knock on the hotel room door that night signaled the arrival of my old friend, Gail Howard, whom we'd accidentally bumped into in Manila. She had insisted we go that evening to witness the wondrous healings performed by men called Spiritists.
"I'm ready to see those old witch doctors of yours," I laughed as she walked in.
"You'll see more than you bargained for, Ann," Gail replied earnestly.
We were off, on what would prove to be the greatest experience of my life.
"At the large home of Guillermo Tolentino on 2012 Retiro Street, at least 200 Philippino peasants were crowded there, watching a man in a sport shirt who was bending over a sheet-covered table. Obtaining permission, Gail led me straight to the operating table.
"A small boy lay there, gently touching a swollen spot on his leg. I saw the Spiritist point his finger at this spot. I saw the skin open, to expose an angry-looking ball of flesh about the size of a large marble. I saw the 'surgeon' calmly reach into the wound and with two fingers take out this reddish mass. I saw, but my mind could not accept it.
"My eyes raced to the child's face, expecting to read there the excruciating pain caused by this seeming barbarism. But the boy was composed, even smiling a little and apparently in no discomfort whatsoever. I turned to Gail but she ignored my stark disbelief.
"The medium's name is Blanche," Gail whispered. "The Spirit of God is operating through Blanche's trance. Watch him, Ann, don't be afraid."
"Blanche dropped the growth into a pan held by an attendant and then, with his finger, gently rubbed the incision. I saw the parted skin come together until only the faintest line evidenced the spot of the wound. Instantly healed, the boy jumped off the table to make room for the next patient, smiling his gratitude at Blanche as he left the room.
"I stood rooted, with my mouth gaping, as I saw an opening appear in the side of a woman's breast. Blanche again reached in and removed a gray-looking object resembling an anchovy. I've got to be dreaming, I thought wildly. And yet that same night, I witnessed over 100 operations for the removal of what appeared to be inflamed appendixes, goiters, kidney stones, tumors and growths from every part of the body. In each case, there was no pain evident on the patient's face, little or no bleeding, and instantaneous healing.
"When at last Gail and I returned to the hotel room, I was confused and dead tired, but still protesting what I'd witnessed. 'There just has to be a rational explanation for this, Gail, like mass hypnosis or something.'"
"There was almost a note of sadness as she asked, 'Ann, don't you believe in God or have any faith at all?'
"Just then, Teru sleepily announced that she wished to see the 'magic doctors' too.
"The next afternoon found Gail, Teru and me in Quezon City, in a home large enough to contain the multitude of peasants who flocked there. Small slips of paper were passed around and those wishing cures wrote their names and described their pain or illness.
"I glanced around at the many faces all wearing the same look of hope and assurance. Well, it can't hurt if Teru's eyes are just looked at, I thought. So on impulse, I wrote my daughter's name, followed by the description 'Eyes are weak and watery.'
"After the papers were collected I was sorry. My rusty wheel of faith had quit turning after only one short forward revolution.
"Then my attention focused on a young woman who was being helped to the table. She was bent with pain and clutching her side.
"Ask Blanche if my finger can be used to do the operating," I whispered and Gail conveyed my request in her smattering knowledge of Tagalog. To my amazement, Blanche took my hand. I had just a moment to observe his glazed eyes which stared right through me. Then his hand guided my extended finger to the woman's stomach, holding it about 12 inches from her side. Instantly her flesh parted. I felt my own stomach lurch as Blanche reached into the opening and removed a bloated red appendix. Taking a tablespoon, he scooped out infectious matter from the internal cavity. Moments later, her abdomen healed without a trace of scar. The woman walked proudly away.
"My knees were shaking under me. I tried to fight against the dark fog closing in as Blanche again used my finger as a God-directed instrument to part the skin of an old man's neck. Then another woman stood before the surgeon and he began picking small objects from her palms. My friend's sharp nudge bought the room back into focus.