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Introduction

The setting of this study is the author’s psychiatric office. This is situated in Manila in what is sometimes referred to as a doctor’s district. This area, bounded by United Nations Avenue on the north and Vito Cruz St. on the south, covers about six square ones and over 200 offices of doctors in private practice. Through the area runs its main stem, Taft Avenue, one of the oldest, widest and busiest thoroughfares. It brings commuters from points south to the downtown area of Manila on the north banks of the Pasig River. This district is part of Ermita, a section of the Old Manila, once the hallmark of leisured, genteel living. Now, in addition to the hospitals, it abounds in imposing hotels, multimillion peso business edifices, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. However, one can still find, interspersed here and there, clusters of “squatter” homes and in certain sectors, rows of small, dimly lit “cocktail lounges.”

Along Taft Avenue, in this same area, is situated the government-owned and government-operated Philippine General Hospital, which in addition to its other functions, serves as the teaching hospital of the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines. The author, at the time of this study, was a part-time assistant professor in psychiatry. The PGH, by which abbreviated name the hospital is known to everyone, has for its catchments area the entire portion of Manila south of the Pasig River; this includes Pandacan, Paco, San Andres, Sta. Ana, and portions of Makati and Pasay (the last two technically belonging to Rizal province). The population in these areas includes lower middle and lower economic classes.

 

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