Yo’amte Lourdes Manglona shares her healing journey

Yo’amte Lourde Manglona talks about how she got started in CHamoru medicine during “Oran Fino’ CHamoru” on March 14, 2024.

(Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories for Mes CHamoru or CHamoru Month.)

Yoamte or traditional healer Lourdes Manglona, ​​75, has shared an important journey of her life revolving around healing, from her childhood visits to her grandmother’s garden with more than 200 types of plants medicinals until now passing on all their healing knowledge to the younger generations, while also teaching the CHAmoru language in the process.

Manglona was the first speaker in a series titled Oran Fino CHamoru, a lecture series organized by the CHamoru Studies program at the University of Guam.

The March 14 talk was entirely in the CHAmoru language.

Manglona is an instructor of traditional healing courses at the UOG and has been teaching students CHamoru medicine for years.

Originally from Rota, Manglona learned CHamoru medicine from her grandmother, Ana Manglona Toves, who helped raise her and taught her everything she knows about traditional healing.

When she was 2 years old, her grandmother took her to Saipan to raise her and taught her to take care of the plants used to make medicine.

Ginen guiya todo na hu tungo este siha na mot (I know all about these medicines from her), Manglona told talk series host Cody Lizama and the audience.

Her grandmother had 234 different types of medicinal plants growing in her home and would heal people from before they were born, when they were old and from head to toe, she said.

During those childhood years, Manglona went out to water the plants and learned different ways to make CHamoru medicine.

Ilek-a si biha-hu, Tungo este i amot sa un tiempo bai hu taigue ya huyong yan un famangue (My grandmother said: Know this medicine because in time I will leave and go out to teach), Manglona said .

But his grandmother told him not to use money because medicine and money don’t go together, he said.

Since she practices traditional healing, she has never sold her medicine and has given it away for free to people who need it.

He said that all this time, any medicine he has given has helped people. She said she is grateful to God and her grandmother for helping her heal people to this day.

During his time in Rota, he worked to open a hatdin mot or medicine garden and received help from a non-profit organization to open a cultural center where different types of traditional knowledge were passed on to younger generations .

He said to Rota, there is not much development, so it is easier to find plants to make medicine.

Acquire more knowledge

Guam also has plenty of plants, but he said development means there isn’t much available. Despite this, whenever he goes out to look for plants to make medicine, he doesn’t have to go far because they can be found even on the side of the road.

When she retired and her husband died, Manglona wanted to see how she could gain more knowledge about traditional medicine.

He went to the United States to study more about plants and the nutrients they contain. He said he already knew a lot about plants, but he didn’t know much about the nutrients they contain.

All of this knowledge, including the nutrients found in plants, is now passed on to her UOG students and to the new generation of CHamorus interested in the healing arts.

He was able to see which plants could be used instead of another to make the medicine stronger, he said.

At school, she said it’s important for her students to pass tests to show they’re learning and understanding what they’ve been taught.

They have a garden on campus where they could see the real plants and touch them without having to go out into the jungle to find them.

clear mind

He said he wants to do this while his mind is still clear. Even though people her age might be senile and forgetful, she’s thankful that she hasn’t forgotten what she learned from her grandmother.

Manglona attributes this ability to retain knowledge even at the age of 75 to his grandmother and traditional medicine.

He asks his students to take advantage of their knowledge and to always ask questions so they can learn more.

Manglona is currently teaching in the CHamoru language, but is happy to translate words into English to help students who don’t understand.

She said she is happy to fulfill her grandmothers wish to pass on the knowledge of CHamoru medicine.

Manglona has created a book just for his students to learn.

An audience member asked if he would sell the book, but he said it was only intended for students.

However, he plans to release a book that will be sold to the public.

It also teaches the importance of respecting the jungle and those who came before us. The medicine might not work if the person taking the plant didn’t show respect and ask permission beforehand, he said.

Manglona also talked about how some plants can be considered poison or binenu, but there are ways to use them for medicinal purposes. And that’s important knowledge for a healer, he said.

Western medicine

Manglona believes that Western medicine can be good, but people who take it should be aware of the side effects.

Western medicine, he said, can cure one thing, but it can negatively affect another.

She personally does not take Western medicine and prefers to take CHamoru medicine because they have no side effects, she said.

People may be looking to Western medicine because they don’t know where to find traditional medicine, he said, and it’s not like the old days where CHAmoru healers were more readily available. Many had passed.

So it’s important, he said, to teach a new generation of healers to help keep alive the knowledge and tradition of the CHAmoru word.

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