Thursday, March 18, 2010

This medicine doesn't work unless...

I just received a free sample of a new super antibiotic in liquid form called Panbiocin. According to the person handing it out it is effective against every known pathogen--bacterial and viral. This is astounding to say the least since conventional antibiotics are effective only against certain bacteria and antibiotics are useless against viral infections. So I took home the sample bottle and read the label more carefully. Well, I got the surprise of my life. Right there below the brand name it states:


You are encouraged to make a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest where the active ingredients for this incredible medication is made from. Being in the midst of Mother Nature and the very flora that go into this antibiotic promotes faster healing. Chanting "I am getting cured, I am getting cured!" when taking Panbiocin has also been shown to increase its effectiveness.

What's even more amazing is that Panbiocin is said to be effective in any concentration, such that it can be endlessly diluted and still possess the same potency. Thus, the manufacturer suggests:
Should you wish to share Panbiocin with friends and family simply add a drop to a gallon of clean, boiled water and mix thoroughly. Bottle the resulting dilution and distribute freely. Tell the recipients that they too can do the same and produce more of the product. Remember, it is not the antibiotic that cures, it is your unwavering belief in its healing powers.

At the back of the bottle users are encouraged to send in their success stories:
If you or someone you know is satisfied with this product please send your story to the email or postal address below. We broadcast positive testimonials to those who suffer from all kinds of infections to give them hope and show them that Panbiocin can cure all manner of bacterial and viral diseases.

A most incredible product indeed. And unlike homeopathic remedies, concentration/dilution does not affect its potency. The one thing that the label fails to mention, however, are the side effects. It's a heuristic in medicine that the more powerful the drug, the more powerful its side effects are as well.

On another front I need to mention that I had heart surgery last month. Before going under the knife the surgeon explained to me the nature of the operation in complete detail including how effective it is, what he and his team will be doing, what my chances were, and possible post-op complications. He then asked me to sign a waiver. Among other things, the 500-word document included the following clause:
I, the undersigned, fully understand that the coronary surgical procedure I am about to undergo is COMPLETELY USELESS, that it has been shown to have NO therapeutic benefit over and above sham heart surgery, and that only my belief in its efficacy confers it any chance of effectiveness. I hereby expressly agree that any failure or lack of complete success of the procedure to cure my condition shall be attributed to dearth or paucity of faith (belief) on my part, and that neither doctors nor staff nor this hospital shall be accountable for such failure.

Yeah, I signed it of course given how I had and still have complete, absolute trust in my surgeon and in his procedure of choice. Hey, look, I'm alive today, right? Time to mail in my success story.

I don't think anyone is gullible to the point that they would believe either of the treatment claims above. Well, I should hope not. Both are fictitious, of course. The point of churning out such ludicrous therapeutic claims is that the one coming right up isn't made up at all. Journalist Bernardo V. Lopez wholeheartedly believes it. Hermie Santos believes it. The nuns of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) believe it too. And those who flock to the Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry compound in Novaliches in search of miracle healings blissfully join the bandwagon.

Couple of weeks back I found out that the Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry is giving away free healing oil via snail mail. Peachy! How could I resist. Today I received the oil endowed with supernatural curative powers. The cloth inside the ziplock bag is 1.5 x 1.25 inches in size and is soaked in some odorless oil. (My camera has been on the blink so the image quality is poor.)

From what I've read, the Ministry claims the oil mysteriously appeared on the floor of their chapel late last year. They couldn't explain how it got there. In one video (6:45min into it), a nun speculated that the ceiling might have a leak but then cursory ocular inspection ruled this out. Happening in the chapel, the nuns couldn't help looking for significance in the drops and puddles of oil. It happened in a place of worship and a healing center so the sisters mused that the oil could be for healing. Sure enough when Sister Raquel Reodica, the resident miracle healer, applied it on the sick some claim to be healed.

What I'd dearly want to do is to be able to get hold of her bottle of healing oil (without anyone knowing of course) and replace it with canola, hydraulic, or some other oil. Bet we'll get the same "healing" results statistically.

Early this year the Ministry began making the healing oil available for free upon request. Which of course made me wonder how they can possibly have enough of the oil from the floor to accommodate the, I imagine, hundreds if not thousands of requests.

When I requested for the oil my plan was to send it to a laboratory for analysis to find out what it's made of. Could it be some compound unknown to 21st century chemistry? Some exotic chemical which destabilizes and decomposes at room temperature but miraculously doesn't in this case? Or would it be discovered to be extra virgin olive oil for salads?

A computer printed letter accompanied the oil-drench cloth. Here are images of that document.

Here's the full transcript.

Dear recipient of healing oil,



First step is to read the background and history about the oil so you understand the healing process. go to the link

Put emphasis in praying and strengthening your faith rather than just thinking the oil will heal you. As soon as you receive the oil, before you apply it on yourself or the sick, all present must pray together to Jesus the healer while touching the oil container. Put yourselves in the presence of Jesus and thank Him for bringing the oil to you. Then ask Him for healing. Ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, foundress [sic] of the congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary or RVM, of which Sister Raquel Reodica is a member. Sister Raquel invokes Mother Ignacia in her healing prayer. DO NOT APPLY THE OIL WITHOUT PRAYING. Only after praying should you apply the cloth with oil on the part of the body which is sick, breast, forehead, abdomen, etc., preferably while saying "Jesus, Jesus" and "Mary, Mary" continuously. For non-Catholics who do not pray to Mary, pray to Jesus directly. Again, without prayer, the oil is useless. It cannot heal. Only Jesus heals.

There are only 14 drops of oil on the cloth you received, to avoid leaks in the mail. So that you do not run out of oil and you can share with others, Sister Raquel suggests you wash and dry a small empty perfume bottle, put the healing oil cloth you received by mail in it, and mix it with ordinary baby oil until it is full. Optional but recommended, have your local priest bless it. If you distribute the oil to friends, do the same thing, put oil on a small woolen cloth in a small zip lock bag or small bottle and let the recipient add baby oil into it and have it blessed. Make a photocopy of this document and give to all you give the oil to.

The oil you receive comes from the tabernacle lamp of the adoration chapel, which is constantly replenished as many pilgrims are allowed to take some. This lamp, which has an eternal flame, mysteriously overflowed and created a large pool of oil on the floor on November 6, 2009, a First Friday. On that day, nine lines of oil appeared in an orderly equidistant line on the floor from the back of the chapel to the altar. The oil was wiped over by a towel and applied to the sick, many of whom were healed, some instantly. To view or download photos of the healing oil, go to the link

The oil you received was blessed by Fr. Teo[filo], healing center chaplain, and by Sister Raquel. It was offered at the healing fountain of the same adoration chapel where many have been healed. It was offered to the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Child, Sacred Heart, Blessed Virgin, Mother Ignacia, St. Therese of the Flower, Padre Pio, and St. Michael the Archangel at the healing center before it ready [sic] to be given away.

If you or someone is healed by the oil, please report this to the email address below, so that it is included in the ministry archives. These testimonials are broadcasted to desperate terminally-sick [sic] people to give them hope and to make them understand that nothing is impossible for Jesus the Healer.

The healing oil you receive is given free. The ministry spends for postage cost. There is no need to give a donation. However, if you still wish to make a donation, no matter how small, and participate in the healing ministry, please send by postal mail any amount 1) outside the Philippines, international money order in dollars pay to HERMIE SANTOS, 8 Dockery Drive, West Orange, NJ 07052, U.S.A.; 2) in the Philippines, deposit cheque or cash at the nearest Bank of the Philippines Islands branch to BPI Savings Account No. 0086-3992-84 in the name of BERNARDO V. LOPEZ. In both cases, email Mr. Santos at or Mr. Lopez at the eastwind email address above that you have sent or deposited your donation. You will get a reply once the donation is received.

Please visit our website and subscribe as member if you are interested in 1) asking for prayers for the sick sent to our prayer warrior group with worldwide members; 2) receiving regular notices of the ministry's healing guides and inspirational materials, such as youtubes, powerpoints, prayer-poems, testimonials.

Given the above text I now believe having the oil analyzed is unnecessary. The "healing oil" I received is most probably lamp oil, either spilled or fresh from the dealer, and "blessed by Fr. Teo[filo], healing center chaplain, and by Sister Raquel." The Ministry admits the oil did not actually have miraculous origins--it didn't even condense out of thin air. Instead the oil comes from the tabernacle lamp. You gotta give them a thumbs up for honesty. The oil reservoir they say "mysteriously overflowed and created a large pool of oil on the floor." "Mysteriously"? Wonder if they bothered checking for a cracked or leaky container. I'd also like to have a word with the guy who tops up the lamp's fuel tank. And since visitors are allowed to take oil home, a video of what happened the day before the pools of oil appeared may be revealing. Here is a screenshot of what may be the oil lamp (9:37min into the video) in question.

Apparently, oil has been seen on the floor on at least two occasions--September 25 and November 6, 2009*. Though I haven't found an admission, the Sept. 25 oil spill probably has something to do with the tabernacle lamp oil as well.

As with the makers of Panbiocin, the Ministry is adamant that "THIS 'HEALING' OIL DOES NOT REALLY HEAL." Rather it's a 2000-year old corpse that actually makes you well: "IT IS JESUS HEALING PEOPLE THROUGH THIS BLEST OIL." So how do we get the zombie to cure us through the nonhealing oil? Beseeching and believing: "WITHOUT PRAYER OR FAITH, THE OIL IS USELESS. IT CANNOT HEAL." So the oil by itself does not possess curative powers. But if one prays and has faith that can move the whole Himalayan mountain range, do we still need the oil? Can't we just pray and believe till we're blue? Can't Jesus heal directly without the use of chemicals? You can bet that miracle healer Benny Hinn et al. would belt out a Yeah, baby, yeah! Then again, if Jesus can heal directly, who needs Hinn & Co.?

And as in the case of Panbiocin, the oil can be also diluted--in this case with baby oil--and still retain its full potency, not least because as they warn the oil does not really heal. Chances are--and the Ministry might cautiously agree--you can use sunflower oil, peanut oil, motor oil, ... instead of mineral oil and it shouldn't make a difference. The Ministry may even approve of a Vitamin E enriched healing oil. Or what about a rose scented oil to please Doctor Jesus? We can even use that famed panacea--virgin coconut oil (VCO)--and in teaming up with the supernatural endow it with even more magical powers. I'm sure Doc Jesus will bless the Philippines for using indigenous products.

As for claims of healing, need it be said that all the Ministry can show are testimonials? One story is not proof. A thousand anecdotes ain't evidence. Certainly not when the cherry picker shamelessly tells us to send in only happy stories:
If you or someone is healed by the oil, please report this to the email address below, so that it is included in the ministry archives. These testimonials are broadcasted to desperate terminally-sick [sic] people to give them hope and to make them understand that nothing is impossible for Jesus the Healer.
Well, if I count only my hits and ignore my failures, then I'm an A student in all subjects from kindergarten to university, a genuine psychic, a top marksman, numero uno in the diagnosis of illnesses and electronic faults, ....

Finally, having watched Bernardo Lopez's videos and having corresponded with him, I can only say that he is utterly deluded and has not a single critical bone in his frame. For instance, in his latest videos (12A and 12B) he totally believes in the power of prayer. His reason? Post hockery. He recalls and makes known only those instances when a desired outcome came after the nuns prayed and ignores those instances when prayer was not followed by a desirable outcome (we know this because the nuns pray everyday). Yes, Lopez is the Ministry's resident cherry picker. And then of course there are the testimonials he features. On the flimsiest and hyper unreliable kind of evidence he is persuaded that indeed the people in his videos have been cured of their ailments and that the oil or Sister Reodica or prayer or a zombie or what have you is what cured them. Non causa pro causa. Amen.

Lopez is older than I am. He's probably in his 50s or 60s. And yet there is something rather intellectually sophomoric about him. I don't know if he knows this but he shared a tidbit that might shed light on his mental/intellectual constitution:
i have a very strong faith
which is from the heart
you are arguing from the mind
intellectual plain
i am not there

And that segues onto the matter of his writing style in our correspondences which both irked and puzzled me at first. In each of the seven emails I received each line is less than 10 words. I initially thought the short lines was a quirk of his email software, that it was adding a carriage return (yeah I'm from the typewriter days) automatically. Only later did it dawn on me that he was deliberately writing in verse form. Duh! Artistic? I say crank. The obsessively, fanatically religious all are.


* In this video, Bernardo Lopez says oil appeared on November 26, 2009 which according to him is a First Friday, which can't be since Nov. 26 was a Thursday. Furthermore the photos he shows are those of the Nov. 6 oil appearance. In all probability he just made a booboo and actually meant to say Nov. 6. In an earlier video Lopez claims oil also appeared on the floor on October 16, 2009. Strangely he does not mention this in his Inquirer article.

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