Agimat, also known as anting or anting-anting, is Filipino for amulet or charm. It is also a Filipino system of magic and sorcery with special use of the aforementioned talismans, amulets, and charms. Other general terms for agimat include bertud and galing. Agimat is part of a wider Southeast Asian tradition of tribal jewelry, with "gantung" (meaning "hanging") in Indonesian/Malay and "anting-anting" (meaning "ear pendant") in Javanese.
In the Philippine occult tradition, a corresponding agimat is used to deal with in a particular area in a person's life. The most common types of agimat are used for removing hexes and exorcism of evil spirits. An agimat that is also called gayuma serves as a love charm which supposedly makes the owner more attractive.
Obtaining an agimat
Although stereotyped as a cross, a flat, round or triangular golden pendant accompanying a necklace or a necklace-like item, an agimat is also depicted as an enchanted stone that came from the sky, a fang left by a lightning strike (pangil ng kidlat), or a drop of liquid from the heart of a banana tree at midnight (mutya), which is usually ingested. An agimat is usually accompanied by a small book of magic incantations that must be read during Good Friday or a certain special date to attain the amulet's full power and benefit. An agimat could also be in the form of a clothing with magic words inscribed on it, or edible enchanted mud (putik in Tagalog).
Other methods of obtaining an agimat is getting the liquid drained from an exhumed body of an unbaptized child or aborted fetus, or offering food and drinks to the spirits in a cemetery during the midnight of Holy Wednesday or Holy Thursday. Most amulets bear Latin inscriptions. Like those in Quiapo district in Manila, most agimat merchants ply their trade near churches. Filipino freedom fighters also wore anting-anting to battle the Spaniards and the Americans. Filipino hero Macario Sakay wore a vest that had religious images and Latin phrases to supposedly protect him from bullets. Former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos was given an anting-anting by Gregorio Aglipay that could supposedly make Marcos invisible. Marcos said that the agimat was a sliver of wood that was inserted into his back before the Bataan campaign in 1942.
Earliest reports of anting-anting are from the records of Spanish priests in the early colonial period. Pardo de Tavera defined the anting-anting as "an amulet, of super natural power, that saves lives." With the Christianization of the Philippines, anting-anting appropriated the forms of the new religion and incorporated the esoteric symbolisms of Freemasonry. An Islamic version of anting-anting is used by Filipino Muslims.
Agimat in popular culture
In Filipino films, the wearer of an agimat gains superhuman strength, invisibility, heightened senses, self-healing, and elemental powers. With it, the person can also be able to shoot or fire lightning with bare hands, or generate electricity throughout one's body. The person can also perform telekinesis; stop a live bullet; perform miracle curative powers; and have premonitions, invisibility, flight, morphing abilities, camouflage abilities like a chameleon, extreme good luck, and invincibility. In his films, actor Ramon Revilla Sr., as Nardong Putik, is depicted to have protection from bullets and slash wounds provided he eats a certain special mud.
Agimat may be further classified into different types based on their purported sorcerous powers. They include:
- Kabal (or kunat) - agimat that supposedly makes the skin invulnerable to cuts and sword slashes
- Pamako - agimat that supposedly paralyzes an opponent
- Tagabulag - agimat that supposedly turns the wearer invisible
- Tagaliwas - agimat that can supposedly deflect bullets