Tabaco LGU holds free 'hilot' training for Albay evacuees

ALBAY, Philippines – The city government of Tabaco held a hilot (massage) training for evacuees at Tabaco National High School (TNHS) and Bantayan National High School (BNHS) for 18 days.

Successful trainees will receive a certificate, as it is part of the livelihood programs of the local government unit (LGU).

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) trainer Jowel Bruce headed the training for 20 evacuee trainees from TNHS and 17 from BNHS. 

The training at the evacuation centers was held every morning only, instead of the usual 9 whole-day training sessions at the city livelihood training center. 

The evacuees did not have to submit requirements as scholarship applicants do – from proof of residency to high school diploma or certificate of competency.

"Being an evacuee prequalifies them," Bruce explained during his first day at BNHS. 

Ana Lyn Alemania of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol went around the evacuation site to encourage more people to join.  

MASSAGE KIT. Cotton, tissue, banana strips, ginger, massage oil. Photo by Mavic Conde

MASSAGE KIT. Cotton, tissue, banana strips, ginger, massage oil.

Photo by Mavic Conde

Pre-assessment

The TNHS trainees had a pre-assessment on March 7. It was like a mock test where trainees did an actual Ventosa massage and a recitation. 

There were 3 trainees per session, each with a client.

The procedure started with filling out the inquiry form: the client's name, age, vital signs, and other details such as medical conditions. 

According to Bruce, being able to take vital signs is a mark of a professional hilot, and "they can use this for first-aid incidences." (Hilot, as defined in the training, is not just a massage but an art and science of healing.)

Warm banana strips were then placed on the client's back and removed sideward to identify source of pain or discomfort. Then hilot followed. 

It helped how Bruce's co-assessor, Agnes Vicente, made the mood light during the pre-assessment session. By sharing her humble beginnings, the trainees related to her and thus they loosened up. 

One trainee got giddy, raising her hand every time Vicente would ask a question. Another trainee, who at first was too nervous to answer a question, volunteered to recite the definition of hilot. "Pinaghirapan ko 'yan, Ma'am [i-memorize]," she added (I took pains memorizing that, Ma'am). Soon, everyone burst into laughter.

Motivations for joining 

The trainees had two motivations: the certificate and its immediate family benefits. 

The groups' president, who works at LCC Mall, saw this as another income source. A housewife was thinking of this as sideline or future job. The oldest member of the batch, at 68, wanted to share this knowledge to her younger family members.

The evacuees had been sleeping on the floor with only a carton and kumot (blanket) for bedding. Through Ventosa massage, a form of therapy also known as cupping, they were relieved of back pains caused by myofascial pains or "lamig sa likod." Cupping therapy was known to complement hilot.

As such the training also attracted evacuees and non-evacuee friends to volunteer as clients during the pre-assessment. 

Fe Barrameda, a friend of the 38-year-old trainee Michiel Maduro, had been going back to the training center in TNHS for a sample massage. 

"Ang sarap ng tulog ko noong Lunes ng gabi (I had a sound sleep last Monday night)," Barrameda said. 

"Gusto ko pa nga sana kaya inabangan ko talaga yung susunod (I wanted more that's why I asked for the next schedule)," she added. 

The training was holistic: for whole body massage and for learning how to build professional relationships with clients. They're now a new community, with a president and activities like community service.

The assessment day will be announced, with TESDA representatives from Legazpi City as the assessors. – Rappler.com