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Los Banos Hospital

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HOLY WATERS HOSPITAL OF LOS BAŅOS

 

“The foundation of this hospital, due to the initiative of St. Peter the Baptist, goes back to 1590.  The discovery of thermal springs on the site led this saint to open the hospital, for the hot springs were known to cure certain illnesses.  But soul of this foundation in its early years was the lay brother Fray Diego de Santa Maria, who, besides his evangelical charity, possessed no mean knowledge of medicine and surgery.  By a decree of 21 July 1602, confirmed some time later by the government, the Cabildo authorized Fray Diego to open a hospital there.  And putting hands to the tasks, a building of light materials was constructed out of nothing, which he named Holy Waters Hospital of Mainit.  In 1608, some rich natives made a donation of lands to the hospital.  With this and other donations, with the work of the religious, and with the aid of the government, the Holy Waters Hospital quickly reached a high level of prosperity.  A big building of stone was constructed in 1671, but with the years, after the Franciscans had surrendered its supervision to the Patronato, it began to decline visibly until in 1727 it disappeared completely in a fire. Initiated by Governor Domingo Motiones, the Franciscans rebuilt it in 1877,  but they did not bind themselves to take charge of its administration, although the government had offered it to them” (Fernandez, Pablo, OP, “ The Church in the History of the Philippines, “Boletin Eclesiastico de Filipinas, 44 [1970], 653-654.

 

“In particular, another hospital was founded a year ago for the natives who have been discovered twelve leagues from this city, where a great number of sick people are found who would die if deprived of this aid.  The Fathers of the Society of Jesus are trying to have these fitting works of charity converted into a college building for students.  Such an action would be to divert those funds from their true and legitimate masters who are so needy to a matter that can never under any circumstances be of any use to the Indians.” (“Letter from the Eclesiastical Cabildo to Felipe III, Manila, July 3, 1602”.  see “The Philippine Islands,” by Blair and Robertson, Vol. XXXIV, p. 431).

 

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            “They also employ the baths of medicine, and God our Lord has given them for this purpose springs of hot water.  In the last few years the hot springs of Bai, on the banks of the lagoon of Bai, have been most healthful and famous, and many Spaniards of both sexes as well as ecclesiastics and religious, have had recourse to them in the various maladies and recovered their health.  And indeed, the case and, delightfulness of the trip almost compel one to undertake it, even though he may not need it” (Pedro Chirino, SJ,  Relacion de las Islas Filipinas, Rome, 1604. See Blair and Robertson, Vol. XII,p. 213).

 

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            On the shore of the Laguna de Bay, twelve miles upstream from Manila, stands a hospital called Los Baņos.  It was established there a few years ago, as it was found by trial that the hot water that bubbles up from certain springs was good for those having tumors, buboes, and colds.  Hence many Spaniards, natives and those of other nations, both men and women (who have separate quarters), are treated in that hospital for the said ailments.  Most of what is expended there is derived from the royal treasury, but because of the scarcity of funds in these times, it is not as well looked after now as it was some years ago.  Consequently, it is in debt and in great need.  The steward who has charge of it is appointed by the governor and religious of the Order of St. Francis administers it.  (“Letter from the Archbishop of Manila Miguel Garcia Serrano to the King”’ July 31, 1622, from the Philippine Island, by Blair and Robertson, vol. XX,pp230-240).

 

            The lake has very famous baths of hot water, one league from Ba-i, which are a remedy for many ills.  An excellent hospital is established there, with a house adequate for the religious who administer it.  These religious are Franciscans, and they administer this hospital, as they do others in the islands, with charity and love which might be expected from so holy religious.  And although brothers of St. John of God came to administer the hospital and remained in Manila many days, and even years, the Franciscan fathers were not willing to give up their infirmaries and hospitals, nor were the former able to deprive them of these.  Therefore, they returned to Nueva Espana.  And indeed, even if they who have the care of hospital as a duty (the brothers of St. John of God) had charge charity, or more to the universal satisfaction (than have the  Franciscan).  “Historia de la Orden de S. Agustin de Islas Filipinas”, by Fray Juan de O.S.A., Manila 1893 (written in 1630) from “The Philippine Islands” by Blair and Robertson, vol. XXIII, pp. 211-212).

 

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            “In the village of Los Banos, in the jurisdiction of the province of Laguna, which is five leagues from Manila, was founded another hospital at the account of his Majesty;  it was for the convalescent soldiers, on account of the specific properties of the waters of that district, particularly for venereal diseases [Galicos].  But the institution has been steadily declining with the course of time, and at present there remains only one religious from the holy order of our holy father St. Francis, who is assisted from the royal exchequer with 120 pesos a year” (Juan Maldonado de Puga, “Religiosa Hospitalidad por los Hijos del … S. Juan de Dios en Philipinas”, Granada, 1742.  see “The Philippine Islands,” etc., vol. XLVII, p. 227).

 

            “The most celebrated of all these [hot springs] water are those of the village of Maguit, on the Lake of Bay, equipped with all possible comforts and conveniences.  People used to go there for treatment for the illnesses of which I have spoken [those caused by cold and humidity].  This splendid hospital was burned in 1726 on account of the negligence of some of the patients.  This building should be reconstructed at the expense of the Royal Exchequer;  but the public funds are subject to so many calls of urgent necessity that up to the present time it has not been found feasible to furnish the money for the reconstructions of that hospital.  The loss of this health resort has been greatly felt in Manila for it was one of the greatest resources of the inhabitants of that city” (Le Gentil, p 15).

See also Chirino’s account of these springs, in Chapter X of his “Relacion”, Blair and Robertson vol. XII.  The more detailed accounts by the Concepcion “Historia de Philipinas,” IV, pp. 134-151, Zuniga (“Estadismo,” i. pp. 180-185), and Buzeta y Bravo (“Diccionario,” ii,pp. 168-179).

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At the king’s command, the Audencia furnished (July 11, 1607) a statement of the aim, scope, and labors of the charitable confraternity of La Misericordia, at Manila.  In the statement, among other things, we find the following:

 

            “It gives aid to many sick person who, as incurable and beyond remedy, are discharged from the royal hospital – the physicians directing them, if they wish to recover, to go to certain baths about twelve leagues from the city.  They are assisted to do this that they may recover” (“The Philippine Islands,” by Blair and Robertson, vol. XIV, pp. 211).

 

            To this, the editors of “The Philippine Islands” add the following note: “Referring to the famous hot springs and health resort of Los Banos, situated on the southern coast of Laguna de Bay, thirty-five miles from Manila, at the foot of the volcanic mountains Maquiling and Los Banos.

 

See Chirino’s account of these springs, in chapter X of his “Relacion” (vol. XII of this series).  Cf.  The more detailed accounts of La Conception (“Historia de Philipinas,” IV, pp.134-151), Zuniga (“Estadismo,” I, pp. 180-185), and Buzeta and Bravo (“Diccionario,” ii, pp. 168-179).  The virtues of these waters were first made known by St. Peter Bautista, the noted Franciscan martyr. (vol.VIII, p.233), in 1590 and he undertook to found there a hospital, but for lack of means this project languished until 1604, when it was duly organized, under the charge of Franciscan lay brother, Fray Diego de Santa Maria. Various grants were made to this institutions at different times by colonial and local authorities; and in 1671 large and suitable buildings of stone were erected which, however, were destroyed by fire in 1727.  The hospital seems to have retrograted, in extent and in its management early in its history;  Zuniga found it in very poor condition at the end of the eighteenth century.  See chapter on “Minero-medical Waters of the Islands” in U.S. Philippine Commission’s Report,  1900, iii, pp. 217-227 (Ibid., footnote 37, pp. 211-212).