Written by Gail Howard
"It looks like she's got jungle rot like you," Gail said. 'Go on, put your hands by hers.'
Jungle rot, the familiar name for a fungus I'd been plagued with since I was a child; a condition no doctor of the countless many I'd consulted had been able to halt.
"I acted on Gail's suggestion like a sleepwalker. Blanche began picking dozens of small white things resembling stickers from my hands. There was no sensation but the scratching of fingernails as he plucked at my skin. Then he stopped.
"Did you get it all?" I heard my voice ask weakly.
"He shook his head and Gail translated. 'He says it's late now and he'll finish next time.'
Suddenly, Teru's name was called out. She came forward slowly, her wide eyes showing the shock she felt at all this. Blanche raised her eyelids and peered close. I could only speak in a whisper. "Is there anything wrong?"
Gail said, "He says there's something wrong with both eyes."
Teru went white, grabbing me fiercely around the legs and holding on for dear life. "No, Mummy, don't let them touch me!" She screamed. "It's too scary!"
Gail practically pushed us outside where we could talk.
"Ann, you must get through to the child. Tomorrow the surgeons leave for two weeks and you'll be gone before they return. Can't you see you were led to Manila, that our meeting here was no accident?" she urged.
"And so I tried to convince my little girl that a divine hand had led us here but my voice sounded hollow and it was only my friend's mountain of faith that gave me the courage to speak at all.
"Teru was no match for the two adults bombarding her with pleas and arguments. Big tears streamed down her face as she finally released her death grip on me and walked with resignation back toward the operating table.
"The room was almost deserted now. As Blanche walked to meet us his gaze was normal. He was seeing our world again. The trance was over and there would be no more healings that day. I heard Gail begging him to help Teru while I stood woodenly by. When Blanche finally agreed to see us early the next day before his trip, I felt I'd been granted a stay of execution. At least I still had time to change my mind.
"Teru slept soundly as I paced up and back that interminable night. My table of belief stood on such wobbly legs and on this swaying framework I was going to place my only child — more precious to me than life. I think, now, God must have shaken His head at my ambiguous appeal.
"Thy will be done, God," I prayed, "But if anything goes wrong, if she goes blind, I'll kill myself!"
"As the sky lightened to dawn, I still wore fear like a heavy coat. It was my daughter's completely calm attitude that held me together as we faced Blanche that morning. His stare indicated the trance already was accomplished as he motioned Teru to the table. Then he began gently to rub her right eyelid, seemingly to work something from the outside of the eye toward the bridge of her nose.
"Mummy, I feel something coming out!" Teru exclaimed. And with that, Blanche held an object resembling a small gray stone between his fingers.
"Stop! Don't do the other eye!" my fear cried out but the surgeon was listening only to a divine guiding voice and not to me. He began to rub Teru's other eyelid and soon the second small stone appeared. My relief and joy knew no bounds as my little girl sat up and smiled directly, pointedly at me.
"It's been almost a year now since those wonders occurred. Teru's eyes have been thoroughly checked and tested by a well-known ophthalmologist in Los Angeles and pronounced perfect in all respects. The remainder of my fungus, which Blanche removed immediately following Teru's surgery, has never returned to torment me."
My friendship with Ann and Teru McPhie continued for decades after the publication of that article. Neither Teru's eye problem nor Ann's fungus ever returned.
I had written detailed letters to my parents about the psychic surgeons and my spiritual adventures. Mother gave my letters to her friend, Dr. Nelson Decker, who, after reading them, flew to the Philippines to see the miracles for himself. When he returned to the United States, he convinced his multi-millionaire friend, William Henry Belk, to visit the Philippines and see the psychic surgeons at work. Belk arrived in the Philippines a year later, in June 1965.
Convinced he could help people (and eventually line his own pockets), Belk returned to the United States. He found 27 'incurable' patients, chartered a plane and brought them to the Philippines to be healed, free of charge. All but three returned healed.
Belk publicized the event, then set up chartered excursions to the 'Psychic Healers of the Philippines' for which he charged a handsome fee. Belk and Decker's dealings with Tony Agpaoa were very risky. Tony went astray by separating from the Espiritistas and charging money. His powers began to fade.
While I was in Hong Kong, I heard that Belk had sent Tony Agpaoa money to travel to the United States to perform his Psychic Surgery on a network television show. Tony, in unspiritual fashion, took the money and disappeared. Later I learned that he and his new wife had used the money for a honeymoon in Japan.
In June 1966, my mother and sister joined me for three months to see the sights in Asia. One of our destinations was the Philippines. While we were in Manila, Dr. Decker with his new wife, and Dr. Bernard Jensen arrived with a group of 25 patients from Los Angeles. During the healings, flash bulbs popped and movie cameras whirred. It was a circus. I wondered how the healers could concentrate on what they were doing.
By 1967, the Espiritistas had become known worldwide as 'The Psychic Surgeons of the Philippines.' Their fame was the result of the promotion by Mother's friend, Dr. Decker, and his partner, Mr. Belk. The greedy Americans had smelled money and profits. By cashing in on the spiritual healers, they corrupted and ruined most of them.
In 1979, I made a trip to Asia with my father and sister, visiting the Philippines for the third time in 15 years. I was shocked that Tony Agpaoa now referred to himself "Dr. Tony" and claimed that the healing powers were his own. Tony had opened a 'clinic' at which he charged hefty fees. He wore a white suit and carried a doctor's bag. Tony had lost his God-given powers, and resorted to trickery to keep up the appearance of healing people — as did other healers.
My sister and I were deeply saddened as we watched Terte pull a chicken liver from my father's back. Terte, who in 1964, had been so pure and spiritual, now resorted to the chicken liver trick. By succumbing to the temptation of fast money and fame, the psychic surgeons had lost their spiritual connection.
I felt great remorse. My letters had initiated their celebrity — and, ultimately, I was the instrument of their ruin. Before Dr. Decker read my letters, the healers had used their amazing gifts to heal the sick in remote areas. Gone were the free operations for poor people in the outlying provinces. And gone were the miracles of instant healing. The God-given powers of healing no longer existed in the Philippines. Now all was fakery, an imitation of what had been. Money and fame had absolutely corrupted the psychic healers of the Philippines.