Unton is an alternative accouterment used primarily for the prevention of "bales" (na-bales, na-bati), a malady common in infants and young children, manifesting with headaches, abdominal cramps, flatulence, nausea or vomiting. It is believed to be brought about by a "bad wind" or negative energy" that accompanies innocent greetings or comments; for ex: "That's a pretty baby." "That's a nice dress." Or, "She has a nice smile." The "bad winds," unintentionally delivered with the greetings, enter the weak and yet defenseless bodies of infants and young children.
Treatments vary: verbal antidotes (pwe-usog or puwera usog), smudging of the greeter's saliva on the child's forehead or abdomen, a visit to the albularyo who may perform a whole body application of "nga-nga."
The unton is utilized for those who have suffered several episodes of "bales." It is worn as a "preventive" accessory usually pinned on the back of the child's upper clothing. Although colors may vary, red is the preferred color, believed to be more effective in preventing bales or "bati." Rarely, black untons (itim na unton) are utilized for warding off vampires (asuwangs that prey on pregnant women) or other nocturnal spiritis.
It is usually a one-inch square pouch with various fillings; commonly used are corn kernels, saga, mongo or pepper seeds. Some use a combination of fillings: stunted black atis fruit (insert), 3 dried red hot peppers, and luyang itim (black ginger), wrapped in plastic before being sewn into a pouch. Sometimes, orasyons (prayers written in small pieces of paper) are folded and placed inside the pouch, by itself or with other fillings.
The unton is usually worn until the age of 4 or 5, when the child is believed to have acquired a resistance or has become less sensitive to bales or 'bati."
|Erny Baron's Triangle||Santo Nino Healing Rituals|
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