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This ‘Bone Setter’ Never Wants to See His Clients Again

Meet the man who’s helped heal 5000

Kenneth Benton, more widely known as Coach Ken “The Manghihilot”, is a Pampanga-born, Colorado-raised, and currently Cebu-based Filipino-American that has been in the health and wellness industry ever since. From coaching basketball to being a personal fitness trainer, his knowledge is expansive when it comes to the human form and function. 

Coach Ken is also a fitness trainer who mostly did his practice in the US

Now before your biases cloud your perception of “hilot” or the typical traditional Filipino massage endorsed in spas, Coach Ken gives us his strict definition. According to him, a “manghihilot” or a “bone setter” employs chiropractic-like manipulation and massage for the diagnosis and treatment of muscoskeletal ailments. They’ve also been known to reset dislocated joints such as the knee, ankle, elbows, fingers, and metacarpal bones, also aligning the spine and the neck. 

“I come from a family of manghihilots or bone setters,” he shared. When he flew back to the Philippines as an adult, he started reconnecting with his roots. That’s when he realized it ran in the family. His grandmother was a renowned healer in her village, and has passed on her gift down to her lineage. This sparked his deeper desire to keep the generational gift alive, and pursued his own training as a bone setter. He spent thousands of hours studying and practicing his unique techniques.

Coach Ken working on a client at Samal Island

For our session, we requested a home service although he usually does his practice at his own home when he’s not out traveling to visit clients. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but when our appointed schedule came, his presence was instantly felt with his command, confidence, and a thick American accent with a loud, booming voice to match.

As he rearranged the furniture in our decent-sized hotel room to set up his massage bed, he started talking passionately, and even joked, “I’m about to do a Tony Robbins in here.” In case you didn’t know, Robbins is a world-renowned motivational speaker with a lot of spunk and character, and I could clearly see why he metaphorically said that. 

Within minutes, Coach Ken has shared with us his family background, his personal history, and how, as early as 6, he knew “hilot” was his gift. He strongly shared his knowledge for his craft. “Hilot is known throughout all the indigenous tribes [but not limited to] the Aeta, Igorot, Lumad, Ifugao, and Tausug to name a few. Think about it, there were no hospitals back then. People solely relied on their town’s “manghihilots” for pain relief and healing. If you look at how the West influenced our sleep (soft bed with too many pillows), you also see how it’s connected to the the most common body pain in the world—back pain—and Western medicine and practices. There’s another way to fix your body, and I just want to heal people and put the word out,” he boldly shared.

As he assessed me before our session, his strong grip wrapped my wrist and instantly, he said, “You have carpal tunnel symptoms here?” My jaw dropped, shocked. I’ve been experiencing prolonged pain on that exact wrist as it’s my predominant hand for typing, scrolling, and carrying my phone. He started massaging it and then pulled it with a sharp motion that made me wince, but beyond the pain was an overwhelming sense of relief. 

Coach Ken with my twin sister, Stacy

As he made me stand in front of him with my feet close together, he did a quick visual scan of my body from head to toe. In a minute, he said, “You sleep on your left side with your right leg propped up a pillow. You use too much [pillows] and that’s why you’re losing your balance,” and then he proceeded to demonstrate my exact sleeping position. At this point I was speechless, although it only makes sense, as he is deeply well-versed with energy (qi gong), blood blockages, blood type diet, and sleeping positions and surfaces. What followed was the actual session that demanded me to let go of control, to be vulnerable, and to focus on my breathing. When certain parts got uncomfortable, I noticed I held my breath. I had to let him do his work and I had to trust the process. 

As Coach Ken twisted and stretched me on the sturdy massage bed, I can definitely hear pops and crackles (like a bubble wrap being wrung) from my neck and spine, down to my fingers and toes. He calls this sound “lagutok,” and it happens when trapped air is released from the body. The level of pain varies depending on the problematic part or area, but one thing’s for sure, this massage is simply not to soothe (at least not yet). It’s to fix, realign, and heal the body. “This is what happens when you’re always hunched on your phone and laptops, or sleep on cushions that are too soft in the wrong position—your spine curves. Your bones get misaligned. It gets tight. We have to set the bones back in place!,” hence the title “Bone Setter.” Like an old, cramped accordion, he stretches and expands the spine to it’s original form. “You’re gonna feel ‘kuryente’ (electricity), and if you’re sensitive enough, you’ll feel your blood trickle down your spine.” Strangely enough, I got what he was talking about. 

To date, Coach Ken has fixed over 5000+ individuals, with a goal to heal 5000 more. He’s traveled all over the country to meet with clients, and people have flown in to see him, too. “I want to heal and fix 10,000 people in 10 years. I’ve met all types of people—from rich to poor, fisherfolks to businessmen—I just want to educate people and release them from the chronic pain they’ve dealt with. I’ve healed doctors and surgeons, even hospital owners. I’ve fixed people who’s been on medication for decades, who’s spent hundreds of thousands for treatments and scans. I just want to help. My goal is to never see my clients again, because that means I’ve fixed them for good.”

A hunched-back fisherman Coach Ken saw and approached and fixed while in Jao Island, Bohol

As for his rates? “I usually fix and heal 99% of people in one session. But I am not perfect; if there is still a problem, the follow up session is absolutely free. Most chiropractors and physical therapists have promos of 10 sessions which cost around P15k to P35k. My promo is one session, saving time and money. I will educate you on what to do for maintenance. I can not demand a specific rate, though many people understand the cost and the time one can go through to fix and heal their pain. I help everyone from the poor to the rich. And believe me, some of the poor have given more than the rich.”

Coach Ken passionately sharing pointers to Stacy during her bone setting session

It’s been three days since my session with Coach Ken and although I still feel soreness from the alignment (very common with chiropractic-like techniques), I stand taller, sit better, and feel good all over. Many times, Coach Ken told me to “finish well” with pointers on how to take better care of my body. This experience definitely changed my views on “hilot,” but one thing’s for sure, Coach Ken and I will be beyond happy if we never saw each other again. 

To see his client testimonials, visit his page here. For consultations and bookings, message him directly on Facebook messenger. 

Special thanks to Diamond Suites & Residences Cebu for accommodations.