Heriberto Cocom descends from a long line of Maya healers. In the spirit of their ancient practices, Heriberto procured for himself knowledge of medicinal cures. His father was a snakebite healer whose best friend, Don Elijio Panti, was a renowned Maya medicinal and spiritual healer. At the age of 14, Don Beto, as he was known, crafted his first marimba and guitar. Fearing travel to Belize City, the only place where a secondary level school was located, he intentionally failed the exam that would allow him to progress in his studies. In doing so, he was able to tailor his education to his own interests. He proceeded to learn many trades such as carpentry, gardening, farming, and chicle harvesting.
At the age of 24 he was able to cure two snakebite victims by implementing what he learned from his father. Later, Don Beto realized that by practicing what his mentors taught him, he could help keep Maya traditions alive.
When he died in November of 2012, Don Beto owned 15 acres on which he established the Masewal Forest Garden. Don Beto was married at the age of 21 and had 7 children, none who followed him in his traditional practice. His wonderful forest garden with all its amazing healing plants is now part of the inheritance and liable to be broken up among the heirs.
Always full of life, Don Beto enjoyed providing information about traditional healing practices to all who will listen. His knowledge of the forest was immense. He distinguished more than 540 species of forest plants and could enumerate their significance. Because none of his sons were interested in learning his trade, Don Beto worried that future generations may lose the knowledge he had worked so hard to secure.