Friday, Mar 05

Cultivating more hearts towards selfless giving

January 11, 2014 | Angeli Adviento

About 300 guests attended the tea party organized by the volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation to benefit the victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Leyte province. The gathering hopes to raise more funds to augment the organization’s second phase of rehabilitation efforts: to build additional makeshift classrooms and shelters for the victims.【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi volunteers held a tea party last January 11 for friends, supporters, and colleagues to update them about the Buddhist group’s relief operations in Leyte province. The occasion was also an opportunity to help raise funds to augment the ongoing relief efforts for the typhoon victims. About 300 guests attended the gathering.

  • Donors Jarius Bondoc and Prince Cu were inspired to give their donations saying that Tzu Chi has done so much to benefit the victims of Yolanda in Leyte. They laud the cash-for-work program that became the driving force behind Tacloban’s recovery.


It has been two months since typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) brought much destruction in Eastern Visayas but Tzu Chi Foundation, through the guidance of its founder Master Cheng Yen, continues to provide aid and assistance to affected families. To encourage more people to help by donating, the Tzu Chi volunteers have organized a tea party at Still Thoughts Hall in Quezon City last January 11.

The gathering was also an opportunity to share with the guests what the organization has done so far in terms of relief and rehabilitation efforts. From November 20 to December 8 last year, the Buddhist group had launched its cash-for-work program that provided P500 allowance everyday to residents to help clean their community while providing additional income to buy for their basic needs.

The program has gathered more than 280,000 man-days during its duration.

However, Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Alfredo Li shared that the cash-for-work was not conceptualized to provide mere compensation for the residents’ labor but rather, empower them to rebuild their lives.

“Master Cheng Yen said that we should help (the victims) rebuild their homes and lives and not just give money as form of dole out. Through the program, the people were able to help themselves (by restoring livelihood) and revitalize Tacloban by injecting cash to the local economy.”

Aside from this, Tzu Chi has also provided other forms of assistance that include: medical missions that benefitted more than 6,000 victims; cash aid distribution for more than 28,000 families; hot meals and clean drinking water to augment the survivors’ food needs; installation of pre-fabricated classrooms in badly-affected schools in various municipalities of Leyte.

As of this writing, the foundation aims to provide more makeshift classrooms to damaged schools which are not yet reached by help.

Speaking on stage, Stephen Huang, the global coordinator for Tzu Chi volunteers, hopes that more people will give of themselves compassionately by helping in any way they can. “The Master hopes that everyone can donate money to save lives because such material wealth only becomes meaningful when it is given (to benefit others).”

Touched by the immense aid given, the guests were inspired to donate and support these current projects. One of them is Jarius Bondoc, a columnist for the newspaper Philippine Star.

Bondoc knew about the organization several years ago when he became a member of the board of trustees for an organization providing eye care for indigents. He met Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) Dr. Antonio Say and Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Alfredo Li in one of Tzu Chi’s free clinic in Pangasinan province.

The columnist admires the fact that the Buddhist group has helped so many poor people yet it has never asked for imposing recognition. “I asked them if I could write about the foundation so that people would know how to help. And I’m very surprised that (today) so many donations came in.”

Bondoc recently won a journalism award that came with a cash prize. He chose to give it to Tzu Chi. “I know how Tzu Chi works and I know that they will do a fine job in sharing our donations. It won’t go to waste.”

He ends by saying that the amount given by the donors might not be enough and that’s why everyone’s collective donations, whether big or small, is crucial. “Whatever we give might not be enough. But if people know that there are others who are willing to help, they will follow by example. The goodwill is multiplied.”

Another donor who came to the gathering is Prince Cu who brought the donations on behalf of his brother Michael. Prince was in Tacloban last year and personally saw how the Buddhist group works especially during the cash-for-work’s launching.

“Tzu Chi was not just one of the organizations working in the city, but I can say that they are leading the (rehabilitations) efforts in Tacloban. The clearing operations were very fast because they hired heavy equipment. This (program) was important for the people to see that there is hope in returning to the town (with a sense of normalcy).”

Upon knowing this, Prince’s brother Michael Cu, a pianist, raised funds by holding a concert in Brussels, Belgium for the benefit of the survivors.

“On behalf of my brother, I’m honored and proud to endorse this donation to Tzu Chi seeing how they’ve personally helped the people in Tacloban.”

The gathering was attended by around 300 guests and was graced by more than 70 Tzu Chi volunteers.

  • These Tzu Chi volunteers prepare snacks for the guests. The organization promotes vegetarianism as a way of saving the earth’s resources and showing respect for all sentient beings. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • The registration area is filled with visitors who were invited by Tzu Chi volunteers to a tea party. The guests are friends and colleagues of the volunteers who want to know more about the organization’s work, especially the ongoing relief operations for typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims.【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • A Taiwanese Tzu Chi volunteer shows a miniature model of a makeshift classroom to a guest. He shares that these pre-fabricated rooms, which came from Taiwan, are donated to schools badly affected by the super typhoon. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Alfredo Li (left) talks to Prince Cu regarding the ongoing rehabilitation efforts done in Leyte. Cu was in Tacloban last year and personally saw how the Buddhist group helped the Taclobanons through the cash-for-work program. He lauds the foundation saying, “Tzu Chi has become the leading organization in Tacloban in terms of providing much-needed aid for the people to recover.”【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • Mr. Alfredo Li, the CEO of the Tzu Chi Philippine chapter, shares with the guests that the cash-for-work program in Tacloban was not mere payment for the people’s labor but a “chance for them to rebuild their lives and their town’s economy.” 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers walk piously as they offer tea to the guests. The tea’s fragrant smell gives a sense of calm feeling which is likened to the Buddha’s teachings when it is inculcated in one’s life. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • These Tzu Chi volunteers from Taiwan present a sign language performance entitled, “Sincere Prayer for Three Vows.” 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • Stephen Huang, the global coordinator for Tzu Chi volunteers, is being interviewed by the Philippine media regarding the ongoing relief efforts in disaster-hit Visayas. He says that two months have already passed since the foundation started its rehabilitation work but much still needs to be done in terms of long-term assistance such as constructing makeshift classrooms or shelters. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer assists an elderly guest while receiving her ang-pao (red packet). The ang-pao symbolizes the blessings of Master Cheng Yen and her boundless gratitude to people who became part of Tzu Chi’s humanitarian missions over the years. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer and guest bow to one another as the latter receives his ang-pao (red packet). The packets came from Taiwan which contains the blessings of Master Cheng Yen for the people. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • Jarius Bondoc, a columnist for the newspaper Philippine Star, receives a gift from a Tzu Chi volunteer thanking him for honoring the organization’s invitation to the tea party. Bondoc won a cash prize from a journalism award and donated a part of it for Tzu Chi’s relief efforts. “They help without asking for recognition and that is very humbling,” he adds. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer respectfully receives the cash donation given by Prince Cu on behalf of his brother Michael. The latter is a pianist in Brussels, Belgium who organized a concert called, “Play for the Philippines” to help raise funds for Yolanda survivors. Upon hearing from his brother that Tzu Chi Foundation has done much for Leyte’s recovery, he chose to donate all of the concert’s proceeds to the organization. 【Photo by Angeli Adviento】