Looking Back

Katialis, Hemaltona and other cures


Eufronio M. Alip (1904-1976) is a forgotten historian. He wrote and published many textbooks, which were required reading and popular in his day but are now obsolete. His works are not collectible, with the exception of “I Traced Rizal’s Footsteps in Foreign Lands” (1961) that is as old as me.

Although Alip is long dead, I still come across him through the books he once owned. Often found in antique shops and swap meets, his books are bound in maroon and stamped on the cover with “Alip Collection” in silver. All carry his autograph on the inside front cover, but even this does not seem to add any value to it.

Last Sunday at the Bayanihan Collectors’ Club that met in Tropical Hut on Quezon Boulevard, I acquired another book that made me imagine what Alip’s library was like. It must have been extensive because the books are classified in the ancient Dewey Decimal System. As I examined a volume, partially consumed by silverfish and anay, I realized the expense he took to buy books and care for them.

Alip made a living from books and on books but his library was dispersed, unlike those of other historians whose collections have been kept relatively intact: Gregorio Zaide’s is in the Ortigas Library, Teodoro Agoncillo’s and Armando Malay’s in the UP Main Library, Domingo Abella’s in the Ateneo Rizal Library, and, of course, Eugenio Lopez Sr.’s in a library and museum that bear his name.

One stray book from Alip that I bought was “1949 Most Holy Rosary Almanac,” a delight to dip into because it brims with useless information useful for this column. The almanac has a detailed calendar that contains names of saints, church celebrations, phases of the moon, typhoon signals, and much more. The advertisements are amusing because some products are still around, such as Eskinol (before Vilma Santos endorsed it), Caltex, Ford, Milo, Shell, Sun Maid Raisins, Silver Swan Soy Sauce, etc.

There is even an ad taken out by Gregorio Zaide for his “Philippine History for Catholic High Schools” and “Philippine History for Catholic Elementary Schools” that were available bound in paper or “Duraglass,” whatever that is. How can Zaide make a different Philippine history for Catholic and non-Catholic students?

The almanac carries hilarious ads for locally made tonics and medicines I wouldn’t try today, like “Watsonal Castoria” for sour stomach, diarrhea and constipation. Watsonal Castoria was supposed to stimulate digestion and regulate bowel movement. Its tagline was  “Delicate as the sighing strains of a Kundiman.” Then there’s Katialis, that on first sight I associated with Chrysalis perfume when it was an all-around skin product invented by a certain Dr. Lorenzo C. Reyes to drive away (“alis”) all manner of itches (“kati”). The elaborate advertisement shows a bottle of Katialis borne by cherubs in heaven while mortals on earth applaud.

The ad reads: “Katialis will cure us of our skin diseases. Always use Katialis because it is made in the Philippines. It is the most effective and economical skin remedy and if other preparations fail to give relief, Katialis will completely and within a short time cure skin diseases such as: pimples, white spots, body odor, ringworm, athlete’s foot, ulcer, prickly heat, freckles, itch, boils, wounds, chicken pox, dandruff, grains after shaving, malignant pimples, sunburn, bites of mosquitoes and other small insects. Katialis also kills lice.”

Dr. Reyes must have been a kind and naïve man because he gave away the Katialis formula in the ad! “Menthol 0.40 GM, Salicylic acid 1.5 GM, Resorcinol 3.00 GM, Zinc oxide 3.00 GM, Precipitated sulphur 3.00 GM, Benzoinated lard 30.00 GM, Oil of Bergamot Q.S.”

Another wellness tonic was Hemaltona Arambulo, which contained “Kalsio at Posporo” and was prescribed to clean the blood, make one strong, stimulate appetite, induce sleep, and cure boils. The Tagalog ad reads: “Gabay ng kahinaan. Hemaltona Arambulo. Pangpalinis ng dugo at panglakas ng katawan ng mga nanghihina, hindi makatulog, hindi makakain, at sa mga  pinaglalabasan ng singaw sa katawan.”

Then there was Dr. Guillermo I. Ventura, D.C. of  “Ventura’s Drugless Clinic” on 2764 Taft Avenue. Dr. Ventura claimed he could cure appendicitis without surgery and drugs within seven days. He could also cure: asthma; rayuma; alta presyon; paralisis infantil; sakit sa  baywang, bato, tiyan, puso; nalulumpo, namamanas; malaria; insomnia; kanser; tumor; almoranas; tonsil; sinusitis; etc. without drugs or surgery. What was his secret? We don’t know.

Finally, those who didn’t want drugs or Dr. Ventura had recourse to the saints. The Catholic almanac carried a two-page alphabetical list of saints to invoke against particular evils: St. Agapitus against colic, St. Aloysius or St. Augustine against sore eyes, St. Anastacius against headaches, St. Appolonia against   toothache, St. Blaise against throat diseases, St. Benedict against poisoning, St. Cadoc against “serefula” and deafness, St. Giles against epilepsy, insanity and sterility, St Maurice against gout and cramps, St.   Pantaleon against consumption, St. Stanislaus Kostka against paralysis, St. Victor of Marseilles against foot diseases, St. Vitus against epilepsy and nervousness.

It seems there was a saint for every serious illness, providing the almanac readers a cure through medicine or prayer.

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Tags: bayanihan collectors’ club , diseases , featured column , health , History , medicines and tonics

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