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This Ancient Book Shows How Filipinos Cured Diseases in the 1800s

One remedy has instructions for people bitten by rabid dogs.
IMAGE Mario Alvaro Limos
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The UST Heritage Library is a depository of 30,000 ancient books dating back from the 15th to the 19th century. When we visited its holdings in May 2019, there was one book that caught our attention because of its peculiar contents: Ang Mahusay na Paraan nang Pag-Gamot sa manga May Saquit (1831) by Simon Andre Tissot.

The title page is torn, and the copy has many brittle pages, but we were lucky that the librarians allowed us to see and photograph the ancient book.

Photo by Mario Alvaro Limos.
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The book opens with an introduction in Tagalog:

Sa mangagamot na Tagalog na babasa: Ytong librong quinasusulatan nang manga paraan nang paggamot sa manga may saquit ay gaua nang totoong dunong na tauo na si Tissot ang ngalan, at iquinana niya sa manga may saquit na nagtarahan sa buquid o sa manga nayong malalayo sa bayan.

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(To doctors who speak Tagalog: This book, which contains methods of treating ailments, is made by an expert by the name of Tissot, who dedicates it to the afflicted farmers in the remote areas in the countryside.)

Among the hundreds of home remedies prescribed in the book, we selected four that were interesting and easy to translate. We preserved the Hispanized Tagalog construction or spellings of the words. Here are some of the ailments and remedies found in the book.

1|  Ang gagauin nang tauo, capag nararamdaman, na siya’y magcacasaquit na

(The treatment for a person who feels like he’s about to get sick)

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Symptoms: Caya mahahalata nang tauo na malapit na siyang magcasaquit, cun hindi siya malicsi, o masipag na para nang dati, cun nananabang nang pagcain: cun masaquit saquit ang sicmora, cun maraling mapagod, o cun mabigat ang caniyang olo

(If a person feels that he will get sick, or if he becomes weak or loses enthusiasm, or if he loses appetite: if he gets a stomach ache, fatigue, or gets a heavy feeling in the head…)

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Remedy: Capag ganoon ang damdam, ang gagauin niya’y houag titiquim siya nang carne, sabao, o itlog, o alac. Houag siyang magsasaquit gumaua: inomin niya ang bilin sa numero 1, o, 2, ga dalaua o tatlong botella carami maghapon; Cun aayao siya doo’y uminong nang tubig na malacoco na hohologan nang caonting suca. Cun walang suca, ang dalawang botellang tubig na malacoco ay doonan nang caonting asin at yaon ay inomin. Cun baga may roong polot ay mabuting laguian ang tubig nang tatlo o apat na cuchara noon.

(If a person feels any of the symptoms, he must abstain from consuming meat, soup, egg, or alcohol. He must refrain from work. He must drink one or two bottles throughout the afternoon. If he does not like that, he must drink hot water [malacoco] mixed with little vinegar. If there is no vinegar, he must drink two bottles of hot water with a little salt. If honey is available, add three or four spoons of honey into the mix.)

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2|  Ang gamut sa bucol na ang pangalan ng tagalog doo’y Bayiqui o Bayicqui

(The remedy for a person with beke or mumps)

Photo by Mario Alvaro Limos.

Symptoms: Cun minsan namamaga yaong dalauang galandulas o bocol na naroon sa piling nang tayinga’t sibang, cun minsan yaong dalaua naming hinihipo sa ilalim nang gitna nang sihang, na galandulas din yaon.

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(If the two lumps below the ears become swollen or inflamed) 

Remedy: Itong saquit na ito ay nauauala pagca pinahiran nang tayom na tinunao sa caunting suca.

(This ailment disappears if you dissolve sea urchin in vinegar and apply it on the sore areas.) 

3|  Ang gagaouin sa manga quinagat nang asong olol cun walang mercurio o asogue

(What to do when a person is bitten by a rabid dog and there is no mercury available)

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Remedy: Datapoa cun walang mercurio at maliuag naming magpacoha ca sa Maynila, ang gagauin sa quinagat nang asong bang-ao ay gay-on. Pagcaraca huhugasa’t lilinisan ang sugat nang may-saquit nang tubig na malacoco na dinoonan nang asin, nang macoha ang lauay nang asong naca cagat. Saca painomin toloy ang may-saquit nang lana o langis sa castila o langis ng niyog na mabaho man, ga calahating taza carami hanggang siya’y sumuca. Itong pag-inom nang langis, hindi sucat pabayaan, ay siya ang caonaonahang gamut dito.

Saca cun ibig at pumapayag ang may-saquit, ang sugat ay pasoin nang caonting bulac o nang laman ng bonga nang boboy. Cun aayao ang may-saquit na pasoin ang sugat niya’y papasugatin nang isang lanceta o campit o dolo nang gunting man, mangyaring magdugo lamang at doonan ang sugat ng capitol na sungay nang usa, na sinonog, at iuan doon hangan sa siyang cusang malaglag.

(If there is no mercury and it is impractical to procure one from Manila, this is what you should do to a person bitten by a rabid dog. Wash and clean the wound with hot water mixed with salt in order to expel the dog’s saliva from the wound. Make the patient drink half a cup of coconut oil, even though it has a strong aroma until he vomits.

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If the patient permits, apply hot cotton on the wound or apply bee sting on the wound. If the patient does not like those treatments, another remedy is cutting the wound with a blade to let it bleed. After it bleeds, apply a deer’s burnt antlers on the wound and don’t remove until it falls off.)

4|  Gamot sa quinagat nang Poquiotan, Laiwan, Potacti, Amboboyog, Lamoc, o Langao na may camandag

(Remedy for bites coming from bees, wasps, mosquitos, and venomous flies)

Cun mayroong quinagat na tauo niyong manga hayop na yaon, ang gagauin ay gayon. Bonotin mona o sunquitin nang carayom ang panuca nang hayop saca basaing parati yaong lugar na masaquit nang basahang babad sa tubig lamang o tubig na pinaglagaan nang bulaclac nang alagao, o tapalan nang tinapay na minasa sa gatas at polot. Banyosan ang may-saquit hangan tohod nang tubig na malacoco. Huag pacanin nang marami cun gab-i. Painomin siya nang tubig na pinaglagaan nang bulaclac nang alagao.

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Ang lana o langis ng niog o langis sa castila, cun ilahir agad sa lugar nang quinagatan nang hayop ay nacacauala nang pamamaga, pati nang pagsaquit. Datapoa, cun minsan, hindi cailangan gumaua nang anoman doon sa quinagat niyong manga hayop na yaon, at ang saquit siyang cusang nauauala.

Cun baga maraming hayop ang nacacagat, ay sangralan, o conan nang dugo ang may catauan.

(If a person is stung by any of these insects, this is what you should do. Remove the stinger using a needle. Apply a damp towel on the affected area. The towel may be soaked in a solution of boiled flowers from the alagao plant. You may also put bread that is soaked in milk and honey. Wash the patient with warm water up to the knees and don’t feed him so much at night. Let him drink the boiled water from the alagao plant.

You may apply coconut oil on the affected area to prevent inflammation and ease pain. Sometimes, a person bitten by these insects may not need medical attention at all. But if he is bitten by a lot of insects, perform bloodletting.)

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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