Near Malacanang, on the Pasig River, is an island that has been continuously occupied for over 250 years. It was a privately-funded hospital that officially became an hospice in 1810 by virtue of a royal decree issued by the King of Spain (King Carlos IV).
The facade was being renovated when I visited it in July 2015.
The Welcome Sign of Hospicio de San Jose.
The island is its own barangay (663-A) and houses a Catholic charitable institution called Hospicio de San Jose. It is the foster home of orphans, children, and adolescents who were abandoned or surrendered, usually out of poverty.
The place currently hosts nearly 300 residents. Most are female, most are below the age of 15.
About 2% (I counted at least six) of the residents are mentally ill. They receive loving care; probably not professional care especially by Western standards, but it doesn’t matter, it works.
The older residents are overwhelmingly women, There are less than 10 (I may be wrong) older men in residence. Photos below.
I am testing a new blogging style. Same number of images, always captioned. I think I can tell a good story using just those. :-)
Encircled is Hospicio de San Jose. North is on top.
Bird’s eyeview of the Island
Compare the model with the aerial view.
It is important to keep this in plain view of everyone. It impressed me because I knew this organization was actually doing it. They were not only talking the talk — they were also walking the walk!
I was allowed to take photos but there were constraints. For instance, in photos, children can’t be individually identifiable. They made an exception though.
Pre-schoolers stay here.
Inside St Catherine’s.
Sleeping quarters for the pre-schoolers.
This corridor is named after…
Sister Wiecka was born in Ukraine — a country I visited in 2008-09 (a coincidence).
Where the elderly female lifelong residents sleep.
Another view. Less than 20 residents sleep here I think. All beds were occupied.
I forgot her name but she’s lived here all her life and she’s 90 or 92. I intentionally blurred the face.
Elderly women live in Santa Luisa Dorm
This constantly reminds the staff of their role.
Some of their showers
Now that I see this, I wonder if there are only 14 residents?
Entering the Dining Hall of the elderly women
A Vietnamese refugee who arrived in the Philippines in the 1970s after the fall of Vietnam.
On my way to the Kitchen
They consume slightly more than a cavan of rice a day. A cavan (also spelled caban and kavan) is a dry measure of 98 liters (call it a hundred, so one cavan of rice is a 100 liters). For more, visit sizes.com.
Link to Sizes.com
This banner was newly-installed when I visited.
Named after the former Catholic Cardinal who played a major role during the EDSA revolution in 1985 that finally toppled the Marcos Dictatorship.
The man! An entire order of Catholics is named after him. That includes Hospicio de San Jose, of course!
The elderly male residents numbered less than seven, I think.
Most of the island is cemented over.
These young men receive loving care. It may not be professional care (by Western standards) but it works.
Their garden, unimpressive when this was taken.
This originally housed female AIDS patients but is now used as living quarters for visitors.
Where battered wives are housed. Appropriately named, isn’t it?
At this point, we had reached the eastern end of the island.
Looking east and upstream down the Pasig River. Malacanang Palace (the seat of government) is on the left bank. See it?
Malacanang Palace is on the left bank. Across the river is Malacanang Park. I took this with my telephoto lens. The Palace is 500 meters from where I was.
My companions. I don’t remember their names but these two are cousins. The one in stripes is a son of OFW workers who are sending him to learn engineering at Mapua.
Until the 1990s, babies being surrendered to Hospicio were left in this.
An effective and loving institution. Hats off to them!
I dedicate this post to a soulmate, Vilma Tecson. :-)