I received an interesting email from Joe D’Mello of the US. I share it with the readers. My response follows right after Joe’s letter.
I live in the US. I did some research on the net and found that you are one of the leading magicians in the Philippines.
Do you know of Carmelo Cortez in the Philippines who makes sacred images appear on rose petals? Here is a link to some information about him:
What is your opinion as a professional magician? Do you believe that this is a miracle? I would be grateful to get your opinion.
Thanks and best regards,
Thank you for your letter. I’m glad you found me on the Internet and trust me to answer your question.
In sharing my opinion, I will not do an Amazing Randi burst-the-bubble-and-do-the jig act. If you asked Randi this question, he would probably play with gusto his part as the Patriarch of skepticism in the whole universe. That means, he would answer your question bluntly and then dance the Macarena for having shown you your gullibility quotient.
Forgive him for he is a skeptic.
I’m a skeptic, too. But I’d rather break it to you gently. More or less the same information, just served in a different style.
From your letter, I can’t tell if you are a believer, a skeptic or someone in between—an open-minded searcher of the truth.
To answer your first question, no, I don’t know Carmelo Cortez. He had been in the news a couple of years ago and maybe continues to get a few column inches of newspaper mention now and then, but I haven’t heard of him till you told me about him in your email.
You see, in the Philippines—where ignorance sometimes mixes with Catholicism—miracle workers, faith healers, seers, modern-day prophets and charismatic preachers are dime-a-dozen. Every now and then some of them grab media attention because of their miraculous works, wonders, bleeding statues and other oddities.
Many of these miracle men and women fizzle out after a week or two of basking in media spotlight, unmasked as frauds, their miracles found to be hoaxes. A few, however, survive long periods of scrutiny and, over the years, have built ardent base of followers and believers. So far, not one has been officially declared genuine by the Catholic church, which follows a stringent process for recognizing miracles based on its centuries-old standards.
I will, therefore, take a guarded stance, just like the Catholic church, in answering your question of whether I believe Carmelo Cortez’s rose petal images are miracles. To be fair to Carmelo (I gather from newspaper accounts he is a good person), my answer is “I don’t know”.
I have not seen the actual images on the petals (although I’ve seen photos of them). I have not seen how he performed his “miracles”. Since I cannot rely wholly on the report of the author of the article you provided (in magic we have this so-called false witness phenomenon; please read my article In Praise of False Witnesses), it is difficult to say categorically if Carmelo produced the rose petal images by supernatural means/divine intervention or by devious means.
After that gigantic hem and haw, let me give you a straight answer for a change. Someone with knowledge in magic (or printing, engraving, coin minting) can produce images on rose petals by using what we magicians would euphemistically call method (not trick) of the trade. While I don’t accuse Carmelo of using magic tricks to produce those petal images, I would dare say that those same images can be produced using natural, not divine, methods—if you choose to do so.
Over at his website, Randi divulges one possible method. You may want to head over there if you are curious about how you can produce images of saints on rose petals by natural means.
Here’s the link: Farce-of-the-Week via Fox-TV. You have to scroll down a bit to find the specific discussion on image-bearing rose petals, as the article also discusses stigmata, among several other topics.
If you have follow-up questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them on the comments box below. I’m here to help.