According to Nick Joaquin, Valentine’s Day in the Philippines has no roots in tradition, belonging only to recent times. The traditional advocate of Filipino lovers was San Antonio de Padua, to whom Filipino girls prayed to find a true lover or to recover a straying one. Filipino boys, however, when vexed in life, go back to older, darker deities, with the help of barrio witch-doctors, who, from of mystic herbs and roots and outrageous substances, manufacture a love potion called the gayuma, guaranteed to soften the hardest female heart and to then to turn the proudest maiden into a man’s amorous slave.
Gayuma in various forms are available from vendors of mystical herbs on the side-alleys of Quiapo Church. One is a power-like substance that is meant to be added to someone’s food (you don’t want to take chances on this substance since it is not BFAD approved).
Another functions like a lucky charm or amulet. This particular gayuma is contained in a small bottle of what appears like pieces of sticks and an oddly-shaped twig. It is meant to be worn inside one’s pocket or bag. According to the vendor, this gayuma is from Baguio and was manufactured by holy men of the mountains.
As anyone would think about love potions, I asked the dealer if there’s a need to recite a form of spell or oracion for the gayuma to take its effect on the intended target. According to the vendor, there’s no need to say a special prayer or oracion. The gayuma becomes activated after the bearer fills the bottle with perfume or scented oil then on a piece of white paper writes his or her name then the name of his or her intended target, folds and places it inside the bottle with the rest of the mixture. The vendor warned that the entire ritual of mixing the solids and liquids should be done alone otherwise the gayuma won’t take affect.