Catholic Churches in Big PH Cities Should Provide
Free Gruel (Lugaw) and Toilet Facilities to the Street Dwellers
By Apolinario Villalobos
During the ongoing Filipino Catholic Bishops’ conference, the hierarchy should come up with a uniform compassion-founded program such as the putting up of free gruel and toilet for the poor. There are parish churches which are already and somehow, trying to cope with these basic needs, but they are “wanting” in this purpose. To mention, Quiapo cathedral has public toilets but they are open when there are services only. There is no question about their “feeding program” as this project is consistently being carried on by the religious groups. The neighboring church, Sta. Cruz, charges 5pesos per urinal use, and double for the other call of nature, and I do not think, they have a feeding program. When I passed by the vicinity of San Sebastian, I saw a few street dwellers who were sort of queueing outside the fence of the church’s convent, and I was told by one that they were waiting for a free gruel, but only for those who bring their own bowl. Mentioned projects, if there are, vary according to the parish church, perhaps, based on their financial capability. But, can’t churches call on their rich parishioners to donate at least a 25-kilo bag of rice every month, or pledge money for the purchase of ingredients for the gruel, and extra money for the construction of toilets? And to think that during fiestas, there is a shameful display of affluence!
As regards the toilets, it is a general knowledge that this facility is among the most-needed in cities, especially, for the street dwellers. One time, I saw a woman squatting in a street corner oblivious of the few passers-by. From the corner of my eye, I later saw that she nonchalantly went back to the pushcart where there was a child and a dog. Within the vicinity, there was no restaurant or small carinderia, but even if there was one, I didn’t think the owner will allow her to use their toilet which is reserved for paying customers. Several times, I saw children who take the risk of defecating on the Pasig River bank. In this regard, the burger joints like Jolibee and Macdonalds allow non-customers to use their toilets, but they have to be decently dressed, as obvious street dwellers are shooed away by their guards!
Instead of being very much concerned with the cussing of Duterte, these Catholic “patriarchs” MUST change their direction in consonance with that of the current pope. They should focus on the immediate needs of their flock not to mention the spiritual, instead of the political issues. They should allow Duterte do his thing in ridding the streets of drug addicts, while on their part, they should exert an effort in making a follow through by providing whatever material succor they could provide – food and decency when answering the call of nature for those who try to survive by scavenging for recyclable trash and living on pushcarts and sidewalks.