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Gayuma in the City

Filipinos love potions, where to get them and how they work



As an archipelago, the Philippine islands are separated by bodies of water, different provincial traditions, and opposing political views. But if there’s one thing that binds Pinoys, it’s their passion for love and “finding the one.”

In some cases, people will go to extreme measures in order to find the love they have been searching for. This goes beyond what science can explain, manipulating outcomes with the help of supernatural resources such as the use of gayuma.

According to Wiktionary, gayuma is a “love potion used to attract someone to love the person who drank or poured it.” Usually made out of secret recipes that often include natural ingredients such as herbs, plant roots, and even insects, love potions usually come from healers who know how to make them. And believe it or not, in the age of dating apps, gayuma still exists.

Potions and magic

One of the best places to look for these potions is outside Quiapo Church in Manila. Catholic devotees flock indoors to pray and touch the “miraculous” statue of the Black Nazarene, while folk mysticism thrives on the sidewalks.

To shed light on the mystery behind gayuma, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle interviewed Lalaine (not her real name), a love potion seller and maker in Quiapo. Since 1989, she has been selling various herbs and potions, a livelihood she inherited from her grandfather, who was also a healer.


Dito na ako tumanda. Dito ko na napagtapos ang mga anak ko (I’ve grown old here. Through this, I’ve been able to send my children to school),” she says. “My father had nine daughters. To protect us, my grandfather taught us to be healers, so that, when we got married, our husband wouldn’t cheat and our in-laws wouldn’t treat us badly.” Lalaine clarified that they are not witches, but healers.

She said that potion sellers like her do not simply mix ingredients together, they supplement it with proper incantations. “Hindi iyon ganun kasimple, iniorasyunan ‘yun (It’s not that simple, proper incantation should be done),” she says. “May dasal ‘yan, may Latin na binibigkas (There’s incantation, a Latin prayer).”

Genie in a bottle

There are a lot of gayuma methods available. There’s black magic (a potion that uses black candles), the miracle power (usually mixed to drink and food), and there’s buhok ng duwende. Lalaine uses the latter. For she believes that among all methods, this is the safest.

Buhok ng duwende is an herb she gets from Mount Banahaw. She puts it inside a tiny bottle then asks her client to write on a piece of paper the name of the person he wants to charm, spray his perfume on it, then put it inside the bottle.

“You need to know his full name and exact birthday. Don’t wish anything bad or curse the person,” she says. From that, Lalaine will provide a Latin prayer that the client needs to solemnly pray at night.

Yung Latin na ibinibigay ko, kailangan dasalin iyon tuwing katahimikan. Halimbawa, ang tahimik sa lugar n’yo ay 10 hanggang alas-12 ng gabi. Doon dapat dasalin ‘yun (The Latin prayer should be cited at the quietest time of the night. If the most peaceful hours in your area are between 10 p.m. to 12 midnight, then that’s the only time you can say this prayer).”

She also said that the client should recite the Catholic prayers Our Father, Hail Mary, and The Apostles’ Creed. “Kailangan marunong magdasal kasi iyan ang pagkain ng Latin. Hindi mabubuhay ang Latin kapag hindi mo pinakain ng mga dasal na sinabi ko. (One should know those prayers, because those are the food of Latin incantations),” she explains.

Lalaine also added that if the client had a strong faith, in no more than nine days, the first wish would be granted. Just like a genie in a bottle, her potion grants three wishes. “The potion’s power lasts up to 18 days. Once your wishes are granted, you have to bury the bottle together with the Latin prayer.”

Curing infidelity

Does she get real busy in the Valentine season? Surprisingly, she said no. Lalaine said that most of clients are married people who ask help to stop their partner from cheating and there are only a few requests in the month of February.

“Those who come to me are people who have problems with their partners. Most cases are husbands cheating abroad and neglecting their families here in the Philippines,” she says. “I help these women, because I know they badly need it.”

Helping them gives Lalaine a sense of fulfilment. She said that most of her customers would come back to say thank you or to bring a friend also in need of help.

But in the end, she admitted that unlike her grandfather, she doesn’t want to pass on her skills to her children. She believes that these skills should be totally eradicated. “Wala akong ipinasa sa mga anak ko. Ang sa akin, tama ng ako na lang (I didn’t teach my children these skills and knowledge),” she says. “Kailangan kasi yung ganyan putulin na rin. Huwag nang sundan pa ng susunod na henerasyon, baka kasi gamitin nila sa hindi maganda (We have to end this with our generation. Don’t let the younger generation continue it. I’m afraid they would use it for the wrong reasons).”

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