The Mind Body Kick Ass Team travels to the Philippines and learns about agimat and anting-anting. Below is a related article about Haring Bakal.
The powerful 'Utol' Jess
April 26, 2004 / Inquirer News Service http://www.inq7.net/lif/2004/apr/27/lif_22-1.htm
MEMBERS of Haring Bakal (King Iron) in Lipa, Batangas hold Jess Verallo in high esteem. I learned that among amulet aficionados, there is a hierarchy of the powers that people possess, and Jess' occupies one of the highest ranks.
Before the blessing, we listened to members' stories about the powers of their amulets. Jess related how, on one occasion, he was threatened by a group of armed men. Alone and armed only with a bolo (machete), he said an oracion or secret prayer, and the men suddenly scampered away.
I asked why, and he said they might have seen something. He did not elaborate. I suspect he was referring to the powerful spirit guides he could call in times of danger.
On another occasion, an anting-anting (amulet) owner showed him his mutya (talisman), boasting it was very powerful. Jess put the object into his mouth and bit it. The mutya crumbled like powder. When told about it, the owner said, "Maybe it's your teeth that got broken."
Jess handed the broken amulet to him and the man shouted, "Oh, it's a fake!" He invited Jess to his house and asked for the oracion used to break the mutya.
Temple of God
Jess said he used no oracion or power word. "My amulet is in my very person, because my body is the temple of God," he explained.
Jess' reputation as a possessor of unusual powers was sealed when he revived his niece who drowned while swimming in a lake. She drowned at 7 a.m. and the lifeless body was recovered at 11 p.m. Jess summoned the girl's spirit to return to her body and she revived. Until now, the girl is still alive. This story has been told and retold in the village and beyond.
Another incredible story was told to us by a member of Verallo's group. "One day," he said, "a jeep's brakes [failed while the vehicle was going down a] steep road leading to the house of Jun Verallo. Jess was driving a jeep going up the same hill. The driver kept shouting, 'I have no brakes! I have no brakes.' " Before the vehicle could hit Verallo's jeep, so the story goes, it stopped and remained motionless until Jess could swerve to the side to avoid a collision. The jeep then continued to go down hill and crashed.
"My dream," Utol Jess said, "is to put on the right path all who ask help from me. I do not want even one of them to be taken advantage of or be in danger."
Jess now has followers throughout Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
History of Haring Bakal
Very little is known about the history and background of Haring Bakal. According to Jess Verallo, it began in Mindanao in the late 1800s. It was founded by Dodong Aquilino Lagari Gulang.
The organization aims to protect the weak and those whose lives are threatened by dangerous elements, to fight evil and help the government. To be protected, one has to join the brotherhood. A member has to be blessed. The blessing includes being hacked with a very sharp bolo or a sword several times in different parts of the body.
The number of times one gets hacked determines his ranking or status in the brotherhood. Initially one gets six strikes, later 21, then 36 and finally, 57, for a total of 120. The 36 strikes include the nape and the 57 strikes include the two sides of the neck as well as the head.
Once a person has been properly blessed by an authorized "blessor," he becomes a member of Haring Bakal. He will then receive a prayer to be said every day and has to wear a special red T-shirt on which are written sacred words or oracion of protection. This becomes the member's only anting-anting or amulet. Members of Haring Bakal, unlike other amulet believers, do not carry medallions or other metallic or wooden amulets in their body. They believe the oracions, which are taken from the Holy Book and come directly from God, protect them from knives and bullets, and even sorcery and accidents.
Every new member recites the Oath of Allegiance that says, among other things, he will "love God and obey His commandments, instill the spirit of Christianism and to serve and defend my country without mental reservations."
When founder Dodong Lagari died, no one was appointed to replace him as overall head. It remains vacant and members still consider him the head of the organization. The others are called chapter heads or presidents but a head "blessor" is higher than a president.
Before one is initiated into the organization, he must submit clearances from the police, National Bureau of Investigation and barangay (village or neighborhood). He should also have a drug clearance.
News of Haring Bakal members' ability to ward off bullets and knives has led to a significant increase in membership. Especially eager to join are military and police personnel whose lives are always in danger. Today, estimates of Haring Bakal membership throughout the Philippines range from 300,000 to one million.
Members strictly adhere to a code of ethics requiring them to protect, not to harm, people. Violators are expelled. Some of those expelled later formed their own organizations and adopted some of the rituals and practices of Haring Bakal. Thus, it is not easy to determine overall membership.