‘Gayuma’ still a Quiapo bestseller—but not for usual reasons
It’s a tale—and sales pitch—as old as time: For a few precious drops, you can supposedly make someone fall in love with you this Valentine’s Day.
In the age of dating apps and matchmaking web sites, love potions are still a top merchandise sold just outside Quiapo Church in Manila, where Catholic devotion reigns indoors while folk mysticism thrives on the sidewalks.
The potions or “gayuma” have been a steady earner for Erica Policarpio, 26, who also claims to have a gift in fortune-telling.
Her booth at Plaza Miranda, the square fronting the iconic church, also sells colorful stones offering protection against evildoers (including the gun-toting kind), amulets for “invisibility,” and an array of cures made from petrified seeds, crocodile teeth, crab fat, etc. She fashions these things into bracelets so the buyer can access their powers 24/7.
Over the last three years, Erica’s stall which she inherited from her father, a faith healer, had been competing for buyers and believers against other Quiapo oracles, herbalists and merchants of hope. One thing you cannot find among her products is the “pamparegla,” a tonic that supposedly induces menstruation.
She apparently saw no need to diversify since her gayuma—stones soaked in oil and then bottled—remains a bestseller.
Erica said three to five unique customers a day find their way through the labyrinth of vendors to find her pebble-size magnets of seduction.
Most of the buyers are women. But no, they are not women longing for a lover. On the contrary, they are using the potions on their boyfriends and husbands—to keep them from wandering off and finding other partners.
And then there are male buyers: Again, they are not Romeos out to win the hearts of their one-and-only Juliets; they are actually Don Juan wannabes.
“Men come here because they want more girlfriends, more wives. They’re not content with just one partner,” Erica said. Hence, due to the nature of their intentions, the buyer’s inquiries and transactions are often done in hushed tones.
From “seventh mountain”
But the sound these purchases make at the cash register, so to speak, is loud and clear: The potions offered at Erica’s store, an establishment that employs two more women, are sold for P300 to P500 per bottle.
“A Mangyan family from Oriental Mindoro taught my father how to mix them,” she said. The stones were sourced from “the seventh mountain in Bulalacao.”
And believe her, they work. “I’ve tried it on my boyfriend,” she said.
But then she qualifies her own testimonial: While her concoctions won’t necessarily promise “true love,” they can reward you with your partner or prospect’s affection. “Aamo siya sa ‘yo, magiging mabait siya sayo. Susunod siya sa lahat ng gusto mo (He or she will be kind to you and follow your every wish).”
One more tip: “Don’t just say ‘sana.’ (I wish). Say exactly want you want to happen.”
“All you have to do is strictly follow the procedure we will tell you,” she said. The seller then explained the ritual step-by-step, one that requires a “1 by 1 photo,” a written petition, a pillow, and a seven-day waiting period.
But lest the gayuma user forget, “they are more effective when the person who wishes to be loved has good intentions.”
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