Gota de Leche (Beriberi, Tiki-Tiki, atbp.)

Having been born and partly educated in Sampaloc, I have always felt an affinity with this district whenever I do my long walks.

Right smack in the middle of the so-called University Belt in Sampaloc is one structure with a Spanish name, Gota de Leche, on S. Loyola St., which has always intrigued me. I once posted about it but never got a chance to go inside. Stto, when managing director Anna Leah Sarabia invited me, I did not miss the opportunity.

Gota de Leche, which means “drop of milk,” was a program of La Proteccion de Infancia, a non-profit charity foundation whose mission is to provide supplementary feeding for infants and to combat beriberi, one of the leading causes of infant deaths. (Beriberi is Singhalese for weakness).

It is probably one of the oldest and longest-running non-government organizations in the country.

It traces its roots in 1906 to a feminist group, Asociacion Femenista Filipina, spearheaded by Jose Rizal’s sister, Trinidad, and Concepcion Felix.

Its original home was in Evangelista, Quiapo until it transferred to Sampaloc where this beautiful heritage structure was completed in 1917. The architects were the renowned brothers Arcadio and Juan Arellano, who found their inspiration from a Florentine orphanage.

Heritage site

Designated as an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum, this structure survived the bombings of World War II. It also endured the vibration caused by the drillings of a building of the University of the East across the street. In 2002, renovations were done by architect Augusto Villalon and consultant Liliane Manahan.

Gota de Leche also received Honorable Mention during the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards.

What makes Gota de Leche unique and special is the fact that, aside from being a heritage site, it continues to provide nutritional and medical needs to indigent Filipino mothers and children.

It is not adaptive reuse but original use. It is for this reason that this charitable organization deserves all our support.

100 years

Because of the pandemic, they have slowed down their operations. After the pandemic, proponents hope that students, artists and other community organizations avail themselves of the friendly rates that Gota has to offer in terms of rental and other uses of its facilities.

There is also a huge parking lot that can accommodate several vehicles. With everybody’s patronage, may Gota de Leche live for another hundred years!


Before I went to Gota de Leche, I passed by the Zamora Mansion in Quiapo. The original occupant was chemist-pharmacist Manuel Zamora, who developed the Tiki-Tiki formula which proved effective against beriberi. I’m not sure if Gota de Leche uses Tiki-Tiki in their milk feeding program. It was discovered that beriberi was caused by thiamine deficiency.

From Quiapo, I took a jeepney to SM Manila and got off at a street named Natividad Almeda Lopez, the first female lawyer and judge. She happens to be the grandmother of Anna Leah, and like the latter, used to head Gota de Leche.

After two hours of walking, I realized there’s always a connection somewhere.

Manilakad tayo!

JP Ordona (Manilakad) can be reached on Facebook Messenger or (0916) 359-7888.