Did you know that many Filipinos think you can die if you have a dream that you die? This is not limited to just Filipinos though. I heard this in the USA too. Like many things in Filipino culture this gets elevated to an entire new level.
You see, I was told a Filipina that I know cannot sleep alone because she has pancreatitis. I was told this was confirmed by a provincial dermatologist. Odd doctor to confirm this I thought. Knowing that this is a deadly disease one usually requires intensive medical care from specialist. I was very concerned and did some research on it. Two of the main causes are alcoholism and steroids. This girl drinks a lot so that part was believable. Once pancreatitis develops, the drinking often stops due to the severe pain it causes. Often nerve block surgery is performed to reduce the pain. Fatty foods are also a bad for people with pancreatitis.
The other day I was at the BBQ with this girl and Jessie. I pulled the fat off the pork chop as it is too tough for me to eat. She asked if she can have it. My doubts grew higher. You see, this girl has nightmares and that is the sole reason she is “diagnosed to have pancreatitis.” People with this disease in some parts of the Philippines cannot sleep alone because they may die in their sleep. Jessie explains she knows three people that died from it. They died while sleeping. I asked the obvious question. “Was anyone able to confirm this person died in their sleep and that actually caused their death?” Of course, that would be impossible to confirm from a dead person. Jessie explained “Well, that’s what they said.”
I asked so “Your friend has pancreatitis because she has nightmares?” Jessie indicated that was correct. To which I replied “Your friend is afraid of the dark” and Jessie said “That too.”
I’m not making fun of it. I’m exploring it. Please don’t let me around any doctor that would believe this. I don’t really believe any doctor told her that but i wasn’t there so I don’t know. Superstition in many parts of the Philippines is deeply entrenched. Trying to make it logical, well, it ain’t gonna happen.
I did a little more research on the idea that dying in your sleep would result in one’s actual death. I found a page on the University of Southern California website that indicates that it is not only false but that some find the dreams pleasant.
It is easy to understand how an adult would be afraid to sleep alone. All of us have probably experienced it to some level in our lives. But this is an obsession with this Filipina. It intrigues me, it is not something I laugh about. I seek to understand. If you grew up with people you respect telling you of creatures that will eat the dying and the dead as well as steal the unborn from the womb, it is very easy to become an adult afraid of the dark. All of us carry many experiences of our childhood in our subconscious. It is interesting to me to see how the subconscious plays on us all. Seeing our own subconscious is an extremely difficult thing to do. That is why when a friend is doing something totally insane that it is sometimes often easy for everyone else to see it but them. Usually we can’t help our friend. Instead we need to be there to pick up the pieces when it blows up in their face. It will likely happen to us so it would be good to have someone there to pick up your pieces when the time comes.
Perhaps I should have been a psychologist instead of an accountant. I know human behavior fascinates me. It is much easier to add a column of numbers though, there is only one right answer when it comes to that. That is not really what accounting is about but it is far more exact than human behavior and potentially makes a lot more money. However, human behavior keeps me interested long after a column of numbers could hope too.
When living in the Philippines, it is likely you are going to hear such tales. Perhaps enjoying them and maybe some facts sprinkled along the way to the tellers would be a good thing. I wouldn’t try to ram it down their throats though and don’t expect too much success in changing views held from the crib.
I think these superstitious stories are slowly dying out. I kind of hate to see it. I wont see it in my lifetime but when I talk to Filipinos that grew up in the larger cities, they don’t always hold these beliefs. Most I have talked with do not. They are also far less kind in their observations of the superstitious beliefs of Filipinos.
It has nothing to do with intelligence. Jessie is one of the smartest people I know. I suspect her IQ is off the charts and much higher than mine. Honestly, I don’t think IQ test are a good measure of my intelligence though. okay, maybe that’s a good measure of my ego. IQ test don’t really measure insight though do they? Jessie has two years of college and her children are usually first in their class. Still she strongly believes, no she is certain these stories are true.
I’ m willing to believe that if something is wrong with your pancreas that it might cause nightmares. I suspect that is where this comes from. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it doesn’t go back to the Chinese which have been a significant influence in all Asian cultures. I’ve seen strong indications that the concept of “chi” is real. I read a book in the 90’s about “Healing and the Mind” back in the 90’s that was fascinating. There was also a related documentary on PBS in the USA that was even more interesting than the book. So I’m not completely dismissive. I also inject a little scientific study into it and who knows exactly where the truth lies. I don’t.
I don’t believe you can dream yourself into dying but I also don’t dismiss that there seems to be heightened supernatural or spiritual activity in the Philippines. In fact, I want to go to a quack doctor which is basically voodoo. Not always black magic but it is still rooted in voodoo. No, I’m not going to see a practiced in black magic if I go see a quack doctor. They use herbs and say chants and some even kill a chicken or something to perform their cures.
Jessie tells me if I don’t believe it will not work. I tell her okay, then I’ll believe but mostly I just want to experience of it. Since the medical doctors have been unable to fix my hands and feet, why not let them have a go at it. After all, one Filipino told Jessie that she placed a barang on me after I told her not to come back to my house. Maybe it worked and that is causing the zombie like rash on my hands. Well it isn’t impossible. I’m kind of surprised Jessie hasn’t even suggested it. She doesn’t seem to think my going to a quack doctor will do any good. However, she did give our nanny money to take her son to one once. Perhaps to get any benefit from these ailments one must be more adopting of Filipino culture than I am.
Filed under: Filipino Culture
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