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Full Circle

Day 90: Baguio

Michael Palin - Full CircleWe enter a small room which smells damp. Its grubby white walls are empty save for a crucifix, rosary and a consulting couch with a plastic mattress and two towels laid out on it. Segundo rolls his sleeves up and beckons his assistant, Rudy, who sports pink trousers and a pink and blue check shirt. The pair of them look as though they're here for a late night poker game.

In fact they are to administer surgery to a young white boy called Gustav, who, after seeing a film about the Filipino healers, has come all the way from Hungary to seek a cure for his persistent pneumatoid arthritis. Now he has realized his dream and lies face down in his underpants in a dingy room in Baguio.

'Will this operation be a bloody one?' our director asks, hopefully.

'I don't know,' says the Reverend. 'It is not in my power.'

Segundo closes his eyes and recites a prayer. Then he dips his fingers in the water from the green plastic bowl that Rudy holds out to him and begins to rub hard on the affected part of Gustav's leg. After a few moments all of us hear a snap, almost as though the flesh has parted under the pressure, and watery blood oozes out over the back of Gustav's thigh. He repeats this on the other leg, and quite quickly the operation is over and Rudy is gathering up the blood-stained cotton-wool. I later see him shuffle across the hallway with it and disappear behind a door marked 'Comfort Room'.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 90
  • Country/sea: Philippines
  • Place: Baguio
  • Book page no: 134

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