A Brief Visit to Hospicio de San Jose
By Apolinario Villalobos
On November 11, I made an urgent trip from Cavite to Quiapo for a visit to the Hospicio de San Jose, the entrance of which is at the southern end of Ayala Bridge. I intended to personally talk to the people in charge of the orphanage which opened its doors to the needy in 1810. What caught my attention was a small window on the left wall through which, perhaps, infants can be turned over discreetly by mothers. Noticeable too, were the courteous staff and cleanliness of the compound.
I was hoping to gather first-hand information about the orphanage for a kind-hearted Filipina who lives in the US whose advocacy is donating books to schools and libraries. As she was thinking of “expanding” her acts of charity, I suggested the hospicio to her. The orphanage administrator, Sr. Maria Socorro Pilar G. Evidente, or just plain Sister Socorro, was not around during the time of my visit. I was entertained, instead, by the two secretaries, Ammie Visitacion and Anne de la Cruz. Our short meeting was fruitful, as I gained more information than I expected, and which elaborated the ones that are printed in the brochure and flyer of the hospicio’s needs that they gave me.
During our meeting, a group of six children whose age ranged from 3-4 years in the care of a house-mother, peeped first, but eventually made their way inside. Anne was prepared for such visit, as she immediately went inside a room to quickly pop a small pack of popcorn in a microwave oven. The contents went around the children who delightfully nibbled them, one by one, with care yet, and in seemingly solemn silence . The scene pinched my heart…they were all smiling.
I was told by Anne and Ammie that they ran out of biscuits, referring to the inexpensive broken kind that come in tin cans, the ones served during wakes, and also popular “pasalubong”, and which they give to the children to stave off their hunger between meals. The wards were all evidently well -scrubbed and wearing neat clothes. I was hesitant to ask if the children were found in unlikely places abandoned by their mothers or were intentionally left in their care . I told myself to just find out more about the wards later. It was enough that I was told by the two secretaries that they also have wards who are attending high school and college outside the orphanage.
Interestingly, the orphanage is not limited to assisting infants, children, and youth but elderlies, as well. There are more than a hundred normal children in its care and about 56 special children. Despite its limited resources, the orphanage also shares its blessings with street children, as shown by a tarpaulin displayed at the entrance of the compound, announcing a scheduled outreach program for them. What I saw during the brief visit gave me another reason to visit Quiapo.
As mentioned earlier, the hospicio is prominently located at the southern end of Ayala Bridge, and overlooks the Pasig River. The commuting visitors can take the LRT train going to Monumento, and get off at Central Station, from where they can stroll leisurely to the bridge, along the way to which, is the SM City-Manila, and behind which is the City Hall of Manila.
Two tin cans of broken biscuits may not be too cumbersome to carry to the smiling kids and bedridden elderlies, or some packs of diapers – any size, including large and extra large for the adults, or some packs of band aids, etc. For those who may have no time to buy any of the basic needs, a few pesos can be left behind, after a brief visit. Don’t forget to ask for their brochure and flyer on which is printed the list of needs. But, if your plan is just to visit for curiosity’s sake or gather information as basis for future visits and charitable acts, please do not hesitate to go ahead. The receptionist at the lobby will refer you to the office of the Administrator where answers to your queries can be had.
I am calling on friends from the provinces, and those who live in Manila and nearby areas, who plan to splurge their bonuses in Divisoria and Baclaran, and those from abroad who plan to come home for the holidays, to please, drop by the hospicio…in the name of Jesus. Your shared blessings will go a long way, even as far as the sidewalks of Manila, as they will surely be shared by the orphanage with children not in their care, as well.
Please take note of the following useful information:
Address: Ayala Bridge,1099
Emails : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phones : +632 7342367 – 68
Telefax : +6327342366
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