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Full Circle

Day 90: Baguio

Michael Palin - Full CircleNot everything in Baguio is ordinary however, and on this fresh, sunny morning I find myself turning up past the wonderfully named Macadangdang's Grocery Store to Number 114, Lourdes Grotto Road to witness internal surgery performed with bare hands without scalpels, drugs or anaesthetics. Psychic surgery.

The surgeon who welcomes us to his modest apartment is called José Segundo. Reverend José Segundo. He is a short man, a member of the local Inguin tribe, more Asiatic than Spanish in his features. He wears grey flannel trousers and sports a neat black waistcoat over a dark striped shirt. He extends a soft warm hand. His own, as it happens.

He was born into a poor family up here in the mountain region where a strong tradition of faith-healing was already established. At the age of fourteen, he tells me quite matter-of-factly, a cloud appeared and a voice from within told him he had the power to heal. Since then he has become an international celebrity, very popular in rationalist strongholds like Switzerland and Germany.

I ask him if performing surgery in your own back room next door to the toilet might not carry a risk of infection. He shakes his head firmly and points to the success of a Brazilian healer called the Rusty Knife.

'Because he used a rusty knife?'

'Yes... a kitchen knife.'

'And people were not infected?'

'No... people see his power,' insists the Reverend. 'So with me, I do not wash my hands. The wound will not be infected because of the power that is in them.'

I ask him if he has any medical training. He shakes his head and smiles politely.

'No.'

'Have you ever read any medical books?'

'No.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 90
  • Country/sea: Philippines
  • Place: Baguio
  • Book page no: 134

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