Hilot: Experience this age-old healing art which aims to restore harmony to the body

The traditional Filipino practice of hilot involves therapeutic massage to balance mind and body. Source: Getty Images/Viviana Loza/EyeEm

The ancient Filipino healing practice of hilot seeks to address energy imbalance in the body through therapeutic massage.

Holistic healing and massage are integral parts of Filipino culture, with hilot being the Tagalog word for 'massage-rubbing' or 'touching with soothing strokes'.

Thanks to Great Minds, a new podcast from SBS, you can experience this centuries-old Filipino healing practice for yourself. Each episode focuses on a different mindfulness or meditation technique from around the world.


  • Hilot is an ancient practice from the Philippines dating back to pre-colonial times
  • The main purpose of hilot is to restore harmony and balance in the body to promote physical, emotional and mental healing
  • It involves therapeutic massage and other modalities to channel energy healing

Sydney-based Lorelie Luna Ladiges says hilot has had a life-changing effect on her.

Lorelie, now an experienced hilot healing facilitator, recalls enduring migraine episodes from as young as five years of age.

"As a child in the Philippines, whenever my grandmother saw me feeling unwell, she would take me to the local hilot to help me get better.

"My nanay (grandmother), her brother, their mum and their great grandmother, they all practised hilot during their lives," she says.

Lorelie Luna Ladiges
Lorelie Luna Ladiges is a hilot practitioner.
Lahaina Daudt

Lorelie says Filipinos tend to learn hilot from their elders, and it is a tradition passed down from one generation to another. The word Hilot can refer to the practice or the practitioner.

I am grateful to share this gift with others seeking healing.

Now holding a Diploma in Remedial and Sports Massage, Lorelie invites you to experience her learnings through the Great Minds podcast.

Hilot meditation 1: Breath
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She operates the Autarkēs Academy in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Additionally, she works with a non-profit organisation called Making Meditation Mainstream, which offers free meditation sessions in response to mental health challenges.

How does Hilot contribute to healing?

Historically, before the advent of modern medicine, the manghihilot (folk chiropractor) was the primary health caregiver of the Filipino community.

A major belief of the practice is that most illnesses and bodily pains result from imbalances in the body.

By using methods such as pulse reading, and heat and cold analysis, the manghihilot identifies the ailments or areas of energy imbalance in the body causing a patient's discomfort or illness.

The manghihilot traditionally uses oils, herbs, massage techniques, and mind and body connection to treat patients.

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