Gritted teeth at charity check-up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 December, 1995, 12:00am

RESIDENTS of Manila's notorious Smokey Mountain, who fought tooth and nail against eviction by the National Housing Authority and Philippine National Police last month, had their teeth and nails attended to free of charge by the Government yesterday.

More than 3,000 families who have been temporarily resettled in the Tondo slum area received free haircuts and manicures, plus free dental checks and medicals.

'Good grooming is a part of health initiatives,' said Health Secretary Hilarion Ramiro as 16 members of the Metro Manila Barbers' and Manicurists' Association snipped away at the former garbage dump scavengers.

But not everybody on the receiving end agreed with the Christmas charity.

One elderly woman said: 'They treat us like kids. After making us cry, they pamper us.' Nine medical and dental teams from San Lazaro Hospital, Tondo General Hospital, the National Kidney Institute and the National Centre for Mental Health found that many former Smokey Mountain residents were suffering acute respiratory infections and other medical problems because of the garbage dump's unsanitary conditions.

The free services were provided three weeks after the National Housing Authority workers and police evicted 4,200 families from Smokey Mountain and demolished thousands of shanties, leaving one resident dead.

At least 3,000 residents are now housed in Tondo, the rest at National Housing Authority resettlement sites in the city.

The demolition was conducted to pave the way for the establishment of medium-rise residential houses for the displaced Smokey Mountain residents.