Danny “Hilot” Perez

by Carmelita Cochingco Ballesteros.
November 1, 2011
Does your day begin and end uneventfully? Be thankful. What has Danny “Hilot” Perez got to do with an uneventful day? Please read on.
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Monday, the 24th of October, began like it would be a wonderfully smooth-sailing, uneventful day for me. I left my Cavite home to go to De La Salle University-Manila at 6:00 a.m. Traffic was moderate and I arrived in school in just an hour.

I had a typical Filipino breakfast of rice, fried tinapa, fresh tomatoes with rock salt, and omelette at the school cafeteria. Then I went to the law library where there’s a computer nook for faculty members. After polishing my lesson for the day till 9:30 a.m., I went to the accounting office. I was glad to be assured that I had been included in the payroll for October. (I had been on sick leave without pay for 2 ½ months.)

I picked up my new payroll ATM card, then I went to an ATM machine on campus to change my pin number. Feeling contented that my day was unfolding quite uneventfully, I walked leisurely along the corridor of SJ Building toward Bro. Andrew Hall, where my office is located.

Clean and smooth, but not slippery, the corridor is made of marble tiles. I knew that the corridor intersected another corridor and that I must turn left. As I was doing so, my right foot landed on air, I lost my balance, twisted my right ankle, and fell down on my knees! The sudden, indescribable pain terrified me.
The accident probably took only two seconds to happen. I didn’t notice that the first corridor was about four inches higher than the second corridor. That’s why I lost my balance when my right foot landed on air, instead of a flat surface.

Two male students helped me up on my feet. Knowing that I could stand made my fear subside. I took a few tentative steps and thanked the two students. Hoping that everything would be fine, I limped to my office, then went to my classroom and met my students as if nothing was the matter.

When my class ended at 2:30 p.m., I noticed that my right ankle had become swollen, and walking had become extremely painful. I was gripped by fear. Panic enveloped my whole being. I felt miserable and I wanted to cry. Why this new mishap after my recent open gallbladder surgery and T-tube imprisonment?

I sat down and collected my thoughts. “No I’m not going to a hospital again,” I told myself. The last time I went to a hospital to consult a doctor because of a simple case of bloatedness, I had to undergo an open surgery.

I decided to go directly to a bone-setter in Nasugbu, Batangas, my hometown. His name is Danny “Hilot” Perez. He’s more popularly known as Danny “Lagutok” because his bone-setting style makes a sound similar to finger-snapping. But he does not snap his fingers; he sets people’s dislocated joints or fractured bones. He is the grandson of Cletong “Lagutok” Perez.

Limping, hobbling, shuffling, and staggering like a drunken fool, I managed to walk to the corner bus stop from my office building. Fortunately, Lady Luck smiled on me. As I was turning round the corner, a bus headed to my hometown came along.

It was 3:00 p.m. As the bus crawled out of the heavy afternoon traffic, I sent text messages to my son and to my brother who lives in Nasugbu, Batangas. My brother monitored my trip from Manila to Nasugbu through the cell phone.

My right foot and leg felt numb and the swelling of my ankle increased. The pain became almost unbearable. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I said the rosary.

Finally, I arrived at the roadside house of Danny “Hilot” Perez at 6:00 p.m. When I got off the bus, my right leg felt numb and heavy. I could hardly move. My brother, who had been waiting for me, rushed to give me a comforting hand.

Danny was in his usual business suit – a torn, old undershirt and a pair of worn-out jersey shorts. He rubbed oil on my sprained ankle, then immediately worked on setting my joints and ligaments back in place. He asked my brother to help him push the sole of my foot as he worked on my ankle. Of course, my bones snapped in place and made the famous “lagutok” sound.

Of course, I spent the night at my brother’s home. My sister-in-law prepared a delicious dinner of roast chicken for us and lent me a house dress as well as items of personal hygiene as I came with nothing but my class record and notebook.

As I type this article, I am back home in Cavite and my ankle is about 80% healed.

Danny “Hilot” Perez is an unrecognized community treasure of Nasugbu, Batangas. So was his grandfather, the late Cletong “Lagutok” Perez. They have healed generations of people with broken bones and twisted ligaments.

About 10 years ago, my cousin Cita sprained her ankle while wearing high-heeled shoes. It was a mild sprain, but she complained of some pain. I suggested that she go to Danny, but she didn’t quite buy Danny’s unusual skill at bone-setting. After a year, she gave me a frantic call asking that I take her to Danny, pronto. She said she was horrified to notice one day that the legs of her pantyhose were of different lengths. One of her legs had become shorter!

As we were driving to Nasugbu, Batangas from Manila, I told my cousin that she should not hold her nose up in the air and that she should not be scandalized by Danny’s business suit. I described to her that Danny’s office is a two-feet wide wooden bench outside his house. Also, she would have to lie face down on that bench so that Danny could examine her spinal cord and re-align her legs. She’d probably need to undress, but she shouldn’t worry because I’d be right beside her.

As soon as my cousin was seated at Danny’s ‘office,’ she asked solemnly, “Maghuhubad na po ba ako?”

Dumbfounded, Danny said, “Huwag po!”

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