Fortune-tellers, psychics and other charlatans | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Fortune-tellers, psychics and other charlatans

/ 08:57 PM January 01, 2012

Happy New Year to everybody. I hope you still have all your fingers.

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This is again that time of the year, when a new year is coming in, when fortune-tellers, psychics, seers, astrologers, prophets, feng shui experts and other charlatans come out of the woodwork to predict the future. Of course nobody can tell the future except the death convict who knows he is going to die, but then he does not even know when he would be executed because he is not told the date of his execution until in the morning of the day itself. Still a lot of people pretend to see the future and some people believe them. Read the newspapers and watch television within the next few days and you will see much news space and air time being wasted on them and their predictions.

But unfortunately, many Filipinos believe them.


The manghuhulas (fortune-tellers) on the sidewalks around Quiapo church do a brisk business doing just that. Gullible Filipinos with problems flock to them to help them ease their problems. Whether it is about a love problem, marital problems, a missing loved one, money problems, job opportunities, sickness, passing the bar or the board examinations, etc., etc.—name the problem, the manghuhulas have the answer for it. Do you know that politicians, including presidents, consult psychics? Of course, they don’t have the answer; they’re just pulling the leg of the gullible client whose money they want to get.

However, the manghuhulas do perform a service by easing the pain of the client, much like what a psychiatrist or a priest does. By saying what the client wants to hear—that the loved one also secretly loves her/him, that the wayward spouse will come back to her/him, that the lost loved one or property will ultimately be found, that good fortune is just around the corner, just be patient, etc., etc., they give the client hope and he/she does not fall into despair. Do you know that many Filipinos actually go to Quiapo church to rub their sweepstakes and lotto tickets on the foot of the Black Nazarene in the belief that it would bring them good luck?

Anyway, my point is to inform fellow Filipinos not to be deceived by the manghuhulas, fortune-tellers, astrologers, etc., many of whom suddenly surface as the year is ending and a new one is coming in to purportedly see in their crystal ball what the future holds. Most do not even have the usual crystal ball; they read playing cards or the palms of your hands.

They pretend to tell what will happen to the country (or the world) in the new year. Media contribute to the deception by giving them publicity out of habit or for lack of anything else to show or publish at the beginning of the year. But most of the time, the seers  talk in general terms: that a disaster will hit the country (or the world), but they won’t say what kind of disaster. Of course there is always a disaster somewhere sometime. When a typhoon, or earthquake, or terrorist bomb, etc. hits, the psychic will say: “See? I predicted that.” An alleged psychic became famous by claiming she predicted the assassination of President John F. Kennedy but when you analyze her prediction, it was in very general terms. But when their prediction do not materialize, they keep silent and the people forget.

The most famous fortune-teller is Nostradamus. Media, especially television, give so much publicity to his predictions that came true, but look at his predictions, and they are all in general terms and vague and can be interpreted any way the interpreter wants to.

Right now, the craze is the end of the world this year as allegedly predicted by a Mayan calendar. The calendar ends in 2012. That means, they say, that the world will end that year.

Crazy as it may seem, many people believe that foolishness and are preparing for Armageddon. From time to time, somebody always comes out to predict the end of the world and for the people to prepare, and some people believe them and actually prepare for the end.


I remember the time in the mid-’50s when an alleged prophet in Sampaloc, Manila, predicted the end of the world at a certain date which was very near. The people of the Philippines actually panicked.

To be saved, the prophet told the people to have candles and matches because it would be very dark, to save water and food, etc., and people actually rushed to the stores to buy and stock up on those things. As the day neared, families huddled in their homes preparing for the end. The prophet probably made a killing selling candles and matches.

But when the day came and the world did not end, the prophet just disappeared and after a time, the people just forgot about him and his prophecy. I wonder what happened to him and what he is doing now? It would be a scoop for any newspaper to locate him and interview him now.

That sort of thing can happen in an undeveloped and gullible country like the Philippines, but it also happened in a rich and developed, and supposedly enlightened, country like the United States.

There was the time when many Americans actually bought expensive bomb shelters and stocked up on provisions to prepare for a nuclear war that would mean the end of the world. Of course the end of the world did not come and in the general feeling of relief, everybody forgot the manufacturer of the bomb shelter which made a killing selling its shelters.

The world is coming to an end, again, this year. Don’t believe that baloney and keep your blood pressure down.

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