By Kathryn Boyle
Ms Kathryn Boyle is a lecturer in the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne.
Since 1929 Columban priests have served the people of Our Lady of Remedies parish in Malate, Manila. This was the first Columban parish established in the Philippines and it remains in their care today. Malate is thus, the ‘oldest parish’ in the Columban world.
Today, 25,000 people live within the parish boundaries; 15,000 of these are the ‘urban poor’ who live in the squatter slums, which abound in the areas behind the main streets of the city. Here narrow lanes and alleyways snake through overcrowded dwellings. Here people live cheek by jowl and every inch of space is used. Water comes only from a pump in the narrow alley or from a hose, perhaps once a day. Sanitation is scarce and people live mainly on the street. Here tuberculosis, chest infections and malnutrition are rife.