GENERAL NAKAR, Philippines — In the barangay, or village, of Lumutan, the Dumagat-Remontados tribe speaks of the sacred mountain Putyokan, whose peak offers the most breathtaking view of the southern Sierra Madre mountain range on the Philippine island of Luzon.
It’s home to a herb they call karaklay, which, when boiled down into a dark, bitter liquid, serves as a cure-all for common illnesses. The plant is hugely important in this barangay where the only health center lacks supplies and the nearest hospital is more than three hours away by foot and an hour on a motorcycle. “It cures everything,” said Migueling dela Cruz, a resident of one of the indigenous communities in Lumutan, in deep southern Tagalog, a local language. “Fever, coughs, malaria, diarrhea. You just have to endure the bitterness but it always works.”