The love potion seems to be a common entity among, the different Filipino ethnic groups, and this is nowhere more evident than in the presence of a counterpart term for it in their respective vocabularies. Among the majority ethnic groups, it is gayuma to the Tagalogs, tagi-amo or tai-ruot to the Ilocanos, tagi-amo to the Pangasinenses, lomay to Cebuanos and likit to the Waray-warays, among others.
As for the cultural minorities, it is imod to the Ifugaos, pamanglo to the Mangyans, panghilas to the Tausogs, katao to the Maranaos, kabibi to the Bagobos and limbut to the Tirurays among others.
The popular concept of love potionís constitution is, of course, roots of rare plants immersed in coconut oil. The mixture of these produces a foam and this is the thing that has to rubbed to the skin of the girl whose amour must be conquered.
However, its form subscribes to certain variations, one being that of a drink. Definitely such a variation is the katao whose main ingredient is the so called doka tonoi, a kind of gun extracted from a plant that is known to grow only in the forbidden sanctuaries of the Lanao jungles which the Maranaos claim as their ancestral domain. Another form katao is the mixture of powdered mice and bits of a girlís nail and hair which the weaker sex try to slip into the food of their heart throb in expectations that is the way to make him take notice of her and fall in love.
The pamanglo, which the Mangyans cannot do without when going a courting, is described as a strap of leathery - objects worn on the arms like an armband. With the unquestioned efficacy, it is said to hit more often than it misses.
The Tausogs seem to boast of the most number of love potions. The basis one, of course, is the panghilas. Another is the panghinang-hinang. But the most intriguing is the so- called palmanis since it is the weaker sex who avail of it. Ordinarily, it is the men who uses love potion, and the palmanis really provides a twist to this popular image. But perhaps it is also a reflection of the quality of their manhood ( theirs must be the kind that are successful with women) or, for that matter and the same token, a reflection of their women-hood: men-chasers perhaps. Whichever it is between these two alternatives two alternatives, let not the burden of explanation fall on the shoulder of any outsider to their culture but let it devolve upon the Tausogs themselves, lest things turn out to be inaccurate and smack of distortion.
That they are not alone in this deviation should be enough cause for comfort. For the Maranaos have a counter-part of the palmanis in the katao. An aspect of the courtship traditions of two Muslim-oriented tribes - the so-called pag-uwi of the Tausogs and the so-called miniway of the Samals - somehow affirms the aforecited quality. In both the initiative emanates from the weaker sex.
In other countries like Africa, the most common love potions include the wormhood, marijuana and rhinoceros horn, all of which have been proven to be potent aphrodisiacs. We are told that rhino horn is so abundant in African town-ships, especially in the store-cupboard of witch doctors and sorceresses. Even brothel areas yield some of it. If rhino horn is being singled out in significance herein, it is because of the brisk business it inspires. Sailors make it a point to stop at African ports just so they can smuggle some of it into Arabian countries where it commands exorbitant prices, with Europe and the United States sharing minimal percentage of trade.
The varied opinions concerning the love potionís efficacy seems to be dictated by its price. The real McCoy is said to be prohibitive.