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jason paul c. laxamana
jason paul c laxamana MY DECEASED maternal grandmother Apung Ines Lagman has this simple and inexpensive way of overcoming a seemingly incurable skin disease. God knows where she knew about the procedure, but a good thing she was able to pass the knowledge on to my mother. She must have learned it from my great grandparents from Cangatba and Jalung, Porac, who in their time didn't rely much on chemically-produced medicines to cure local sicknesses.

Every two days for the past several months, I've been stuffing myself with these medicinal pills called Virlix. This I do to tame my urticaria, or hives in laymen's terms. In Kapampangan (at least from where my maternal lineage comes from), we call it "talagube." Fray Diego Bergaño's dictionary however lists it as "tagubay,"which means "welt, bruise, allergies, swellings, due to abundance, or heat, of the blood." In Tagalog, it is called "pagpapantal."

It runs in the family, as my mother and big brother have it too. I seem to be the most cursed though, with my mother following as first runner up.

My hives manifest when my skin is exposed to anything cold. The low temperature of the early hours of the morning is enough to trigger irritation. Even cold leather will do.

At first, I would experience hard breathing (probably because even my insides are swollen), causing me to cough as if attacked by asthma. Then, parts of my body---usually the neck, back of the knees, belly, and forearms---would start to itch. The so-called hives then become visible.

If it was an unfortunate day, my lips would swell, too, making me look funny. I couldn't bear being seen ugly with distorted lips, so I usually isolated myself from judgmental society by locking myself inside my room whenever in such situation. Eating shrimp not washed well before cooking has the same effect on me, too.

If I scratched the hives in my belly too hard, my skin would resemble an archipelago of irritated flesh. Not really an appealing sight when I look at it in the mirror.

If I get exposed to warm temperature, they subside. But if I entered an air-conditioned room, they would start sprouting again, like attention-hungry children, making me wish I were someone else. So then I resort to Virlix, which costs about forty pesos a pill.

Virlix doesn't cure the disease, but one intake is enough to make you normal for two to three days. I would know when the pill had lost its effect; I would start breathing hard and my skin would begin to mutate again.

Until, "Sinawa na ku!" I finally told my Mom. "I've had enough of itching every now and then, of being financially drained due to my frequent purchase of medicine."

Ima answered, "Magásap ka." ("Do the ásap way.")

It's not advanced knowledge, but everytime Ima speaks of it, she shines with confidence in the effectiveness of her proposed solution to my dermatological dilemma. She would often say that at first she, too, was skeptical of the process, but ever since she heeded Apung Ines's way of shutting out hives, she'd become an advocate.

"Ásap" in Bergaño is defined as fumigation. Its verb form means "to fumigate with the peelings of onions, like the sick who suffers a relapse, or a woman who has just given birth..."

While it did not mention anything about urticaria, Poraqueño ásap is done this way to battle hives, as taught by Apung Ines and as echoed by Ima:
---You collect fresh coconut shells. Yes, that's minus the juice and the edible part.

---Expose them to sunlight for three days, until their color turns brownish green (not too dried).

---When the shells are ready, get a metal basin or any container where you can burn the shells until they seem like charcoal used for grilling. They must smoke a great deal.

---Then bare your skin. Be in the nude if you're alone, but if not, wearing skimpy shorts such as cycling shorts would do. Allow your body,especially the irritable spots, to catch the smoke emitted from the shells (a big plus if the hives are out). If you're in a confined area, you wouldn't have problems at catching the therapeutic smoke. However, if you're in an open area, ask assistance from friends or relatives to confine you in a cubicle of blankets to keep the smoke from escaping. Do this for fifteen to twenty minutes. Be careful. Don't end up suffocating.

---After being smoked, you are strictly prohibited from taking any form of bath for twenty-four hours. Never mind that you smell like moist firewood. Doing so would wash away the medicine.
It's ancient knowledge. People passing by our house in our subdivision would give us strange looks whenever we were executing ásap in the garden of our residence. They must have thought we were doing infernal rituals involving me as the human sacrifice to some Kularyut.

If done correctly and if the right ingredients were used, hives would gradually subside afterwards. Still expect irritation for a few days after the process, though---but as proven through experience in our family, your hives won't bug you anymore for about five to six months. You'll be able to save money from all the every-two-days pills you're taking and you'll be able to have fewer problems in exposing yourself to the skin-conscious society.

Don't ask me about the science behind ásap. We just inherited this knowledge from Apung Ines, and so far we have proven it effective. I guess it goes to show that nothing really beats nature in pamanúlu.

If only Apung Ines were still alive, I would ask her if she knew more nature-based cures for common diseases. I suggest that new Kapampangan researchers collect folk ways of healing actual diseases and try to get the science out behind them.

Folk healing ways may prove to be effective. It would then be just a matter of developing them into something modern, like herbal capsules---if possible---to make them available in the market and, hence, contribute to the amelioration of our economy by lessening our dependency on imported medicine.

[About the author. Jason Paul C. Laxamana, 20, is currently spearheading the RocKapampangan Project, an album of Kapampangan songs remade by local rock bands to allow Kapampangan to penetrate the consciousness of the urban Kapampangan youth. He is an independent cultural worker seeking to empower Kapampangan by bringing it (and attempt to make it dominant) in pop culture. He operates an English-Kapampangan blogzine "The Prodigal Kamaru" at http://kamaru.blogspot.com, and a blog for his Kapampangan literary works "Kulang King Yumu" at http://sisigman.blogspot.com.]

-Posted: 4:16 AM 12/7/07 | More of this author on eK!

Christopher Fernandez (Angeles City, Pampanga) writes...

Hi, nagkaroon na rin ako ng hives or talagube for 10 months... ang dami ko ng sinubukan na gamot cnubukan ko na ang cetirizin,virlix,loratadine at tarazin pero wala pa ring nangyayari hanngang ngayon... totoo bang effective ung sa coconut shell... na try ko na rin palang maligo ng ipinakulo na dahoin ng miracle tree unfortunately wala pa ring nangyari... nagsusuffer na ako sa hives na to! pag gusto kong lumabas tapos bigla na lang silang naglalabasan kaya nagkukulong na lang ako sa bahay...give me some advice guizzzzz... plz

Dakal pung salamat.

-Posted/Via Email: 2009-04-04 01:28:45 PDT

KC (of the philippines) writes...

How often do u need to do this?

-Posted/Via Email: 2010-03-04 06:41:25 PST

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