Written by Gail Howard
He felt no fear of the manifestation and shook hands with Jesus, then kissed His hand. He said the hand felt warm as human flesh. Then Christ vanished. Tolentino was elated and flew down the stairs to tell his nieces about his startling experience. But as he reached the bottom stair, he realized that they would not understand and would think him a bit loony if he told such a wild tale. So he kept it to himself.
As he was climbing back up the stairs he began to doubt it himself, and asked Jesus to meet him the following evening at exactly the same time. Jesus did appear to him the next night. That started a round of visits to various mediums to find out if it really was Jesus who visited him. Every medium during trance assured him that it was.
I asked Tolentino why Jesus Christ had appeared to him. He thought it was because it led him to being president and organizer of the spiritual organization, the Espiritistas Christiana de Filipinas.
Tolentino brought out cases of 'apports,' to show me — items dropped out of thin air by the angels at Espiritista gatherings. He referred to them as 'calling cards of the angels.' Tiny handwriting so small it could not be read without a magnifying glass. Often these messages were encased in nuts that were completely intact, without even a crack! Sometimes the apports were fresh out-of-season flowers.
After we finished our coffee and macaroni salad, Terte, the Espiritista psychic healer, arrived. Terte was just leaving for the province when Tolentino called him and convinced him to stay over an extra day to meet me.
I was disappointed that Terte spoke so little English, and understood even less. He was an extremely shy and humble man. It was impossible to converse with him. He spied the cast and wanted to get right down to business healing my arm. Tolentino had called in a neighbor girl to take advantage of Terte's visit. She had a cyst in her eyelid. I let her go first.
Terte closed his eyes and prayed and when he went into a trance, his physical body was used as an instrument to channel the healing power of a higher being. Suddenly Terte was no longer meek. In perfect English he asked for a glass of water. His bare fingers flicked over the glass and a violet substance from his bare finger tips colored the water.
Terte dipped cotton in the violet water and rubbed it on her afflicted eye several times. He mumbled something in Tagalog, his native language, then clapped his hands, rubbed them together, and laid his hand on her eye.
I did not notice a change in the girl's condition, but she claimed to have side vision that the cyst had obstructed before the healing. Terte told her to take the violet water home and bathe her eye with it again and again until the cyst disappeared. The violet water (from the magnetism in Terte's fingers) was supposed to purify.
Then it was my turn.
I thought that in trance Terte would go directly to the fractured spot, but instead, he pulled on my fingers and cupped my cast with his hands. Then he stuck his finger in my flesh directly above the end of the cast. I had a creepy feeling that his finger was going to go all the way to the bone, but his finger did not penetrate my skin. He clapped his hands and rubbed them together and laid them on my cast. He moved my arm up and down and around, mumbled a chant in Tagalog and then it was over.
Afterward I felt more flexibility in my arm and less pain when holding it in the position of combing my hair. But I did not feel like ripping off my cast and throwing it away. Terte told me that the magnetism would be working on my arm for 24 hours and that in two or three days it should be better.
Actually, Terte's speciality was operations — removing things such as gallstones, tumors and cysts. Not mending bones. As Terte was ducking out after the healing, I offered to pay his transportation back to the province. That was unheard of, almost frightening to him. Espiritistas did not accept money for healings for fear they would lose their God-given powers. They know that God performs the miracle, using man as His instrument. Terte said, "I can do nothing unless the power of the Holy Spirit is within me."
After Terte left, Tolentino and I talked more. He said he knew he had been an Italian sculptor in a previous incarnation. But no medium would tell him which one because they said it would not be good for him to know that.
As we toured his studio, Tolentino told me that he had spent four years in Italy, and while he was there, he spoke Italian and felt as if he were an Italian.
His sculptures were so life-like they were frightening! He even stuck human hair into the heads, one hair at a time, with a special needle. It took him two weeks to put in one head of hair. Other statues were sent to Italy to be bronzed. Most of his work was commissioned.
I left Tolentino's house and headed for the Theosophy Center to attend Geoffrey Hodson's lecture on Spiritual Healing.
Hodson was a fatuous little man and superficial speaker. His voice boomed and bellowed trivia between long dramatic pauses to let his pearls of nonsense sink into the minds of the audience.
To him, spiritual healing was just positive thinking. "Sickness is caused by going against the laws of nature, by being depressed or feeling hate, envy or other negative emotions."
Essentially, that is what it took him 45 minutes to say. If he had dropped the dramatic pauses he could have made the same speech in less than 10 minutes.
After the speech, someone in the audience asked, "Is it possible to heal oneself?"
Hodson snapped, "Most certainly not!!! That would be a little silly wouldn't it, when you are supposed to keep self out of this?"
Another person asked Hodson to help cure her of some ailment.
Hodson arrogantly refused. "I have spent so much time working on this speech for you, I don't have time to attend to any of you personally."
As I walked out, I heard him asking to see his publicity photographs.
What a contrast! Hodson, almost a caricature of arrogance, and Terte, all humbleness, working quiet miracles.
Next day, as my taxi pulled up to Tolentino's gate, I heard music blaring at top volume from somewhere nearby. I walked toward the house and the music grew louder. Kindly old Tolentino met me at the door. In his living room was a set of drums and three electric guitars connected to an amplifier on full blast. The "Templars," a group of musicians led by the youngest, his 13 year old son, were rehearsing for their weekly radio show.
Tolentino's wife, Paz, was only 17 years old when confirmed bachelor Tolentino married for the first time at age 42. He was now in his mid-70's. Paz was a beautiful sweet-faced girl then (from her pictures) and was still attractive. She tolerated his participation in spiritism but did not take an active interest in it, nor did she like to watch the spiritual operations. They upset her. Nor did she enter any of our discussions.
When Tolentino disappeared for a book or something to show me, Paz would magically appear and make small talk with me. She never sat with us to have coffee, but played the maid's role. I asked Paz if Terte had ever cured her of anything.
She said that he had. Paz had persistent migraine headaches for six years. Under trance in 1954, Terte touched her head and neck and prescribed Ovaltine nightly! After her first cup of Ovaltine, the headache disappeared. She continued drinking Ovaltine nightly for a month, then stopped. She had not had a headache since then. I was surprised that spirit would prescribe something so this-worldly as Ovaltine.