For many years, Smokey Mountain, a vast garbage dump in Manila, the Philippines, served as an emblem of third world squalor. In many ways, it is a metaphor for a planet slowly choking on garbage and waste. But for Fr. Ben Beltran, who served for three decades as chaplain to the 25,000 scavengers who survive off this reeking heap, it is also a metaphor of hope-- an emblem of the will to survive, the ability to create joy and find meaning even in the midst of abject poverty.
Faith and Struggle on Smokey Mountain describes the spiritual resilience of struggling peoples and how, through their eyes, Beltran learned to read the Gospel anew. The lessons he learned bear a message for all who struggle for a better world.
Benigno P. Beltran is a Society of the Divine Word priest from the Philippines. He received a doctorate from the Gregorian University in Rome before becoming chaplain to the scavengers of Smokey Mountain. He has received many international awards for his work in community development projects.