Philippine Culture and Illness (Paraig)

When a person gets sick in the Philippines, he or she is cared for in a special Filipino way.

Yes, most cultures will have someone watching over the sick, praying for them, giving them a sponge bath, pampering them with their favorite food, and other loving acts of care and kindness.

There is, however, a unique type of care given to those who are sick here in the Philippines.

In Cebuano, it is called PARAIG. (pa-RA-ig)

The locals tend to pronounce it rather quickly, so that you hear only one syllable instead of three. Hence, it is more familiarly pronounced as PRYG. (Sounds like the word "pride" but you end with a hard "G" sound.)

Some elders say the child is not really sick but is only seeking attention. However, I've seen it work even when the child has a fever.

Here's how it works...

Sometimes, a febrile child will moan. The caregiver will embrace the child and will mimic the sound, in an effort to empathize with what the child is feeling. This then communicates love to the child, and helps speed the recovery process.

When Ali was sick in the hospital, I noticed that when I carry her during her cranky moments, she would calm down quickly if I make lilting "mmmmmm" sounds while carrying her. No, we're not from Cebu, but paraig works even in Metro Manila.

So the next time your child is sick and listless, carry her, embrace her, and make her feel that you also feel her discomfort. Use your voice, hum, and make your love resonate as you hold her close to your chest. That way, she will not feel alone in her misery.

[ First posted on 07/01/2004 by Manuel Viloria ]



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