However, vendors are vague about their powers, saying only that they are harbingers of success and provide protection to the bearer against bodily harm, illness, evil spirits, and witchcraft.
Locally referred to as anting-anting, they come in various forms. Professor Nenita Pambid explains that the anting-anting is an amulet, inscribed or engraved on a certain object. It could be an oracion or prayer written on a piece of paper, folded and kept in the wallet, or sewn in a small cloth pouch, or worn pinned on clothing.
The Tagalog-English Dictionary by Jose Garcia Panganiban suggests that the word anting-anting was derived from the Malaysian anting, which means dangling, and in Javanese, anting-anting means ear pendants.
In the many visits we had in Quiapo, we found anting-antings made of metal, wood, cloth, and sundry object sealed in glass bottles.
In the olden days, anting-antings are not commercially sold, instead those in need of a truly powerful talisman would have one made out of some magical substance such as a crocodile tooth or a piece of dried root shaped like a man, or even an aborted fetus kept in a glass vial!
Anting-antings would be sanctified in incantation rituals performed by either a babaylan (priestess) or a witchdoctor or the bearer himself on Good Friday in places like Mount Banahaw or Siquijor.
In one of our trips to Quiapo, we gave in to our acquisitive nature and brought home a handful of those bronze medallions with embossed religious symbols and Latin text. Whatever they’re used for, we think they are excellent pieces of folk religious art.
The following are the best documentation about the anting-anting. Both articles are by blogger Dennis Villegas: