Tzu Chi Foundation distributed sacks of 20-kilo Taiwan rice to 1,957 families from two villages in Angeles City, Pampanga: Barangay Pandan and Barangay Tabun. The relief activity was held on April 2 at the Brightwoods School field’s covered court.
When she got home after the relief activity, rice recipient Adelaida Castro shared her sack of rice with her needy neighbors.
“When someone is in need and you have the chance to help them, will you do it? Can those who are willing to raise their hands, please?”
In a second, hands from the crowd of rice beneficiaries in Angeles City, Pampanga went up in the air.
Pleased, Tzu Chi volunteer Josephine Chan reminded them: “This is the lesson that Master Cheng Yen wants us to learn – giving is not the sole privilege of the rich. Giving is for everyone with a heart that is willing to help.”
With these words, drawn from the teachings of Tzu Chi founder and Buddhist nun Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi volunteers proceeded with the distribution of 20-kilo Taiwan rice sacks to 1,957 families from two villages in Angeles City: Barangay Pandan and Barangay Tabun. The relief activity was held on April 2 at the Brightwoods School field’s covered court.
Adelaida Castro was among the recipients of the rice sack. But instead of cooking it for lunch, the first thing she did when she got home in Barangay Pandan was call her neighbors to share the rice grains with them. Her sack of rice was almost halved. Yet, she was just too happy to give.
“I am thankful to Tzu Chi that I have been given a sack of rice,” said 62-year-old Castro. “I will not be the only one who will benefit from this rice gift. I would share it with others who were unable to receive any from our neighborhood.”
This isn’t the first time she had done this generous act. In August 2015, when she first received a sack of rice from Tzu Chi, Castro did not think twice of sharing it with those who are also in need.
Castro, who was widowed after her husband died of acute asthma two years ago, no longer ask for too much. At her age, she is satisfied that the Php800-1,000 monthly allowance she receives from her son, who works as a market vendor, allows her to eat thrice a day and still able to help her needy neighbors.
All her children have families of their own now, leaving Castro to fend for herself. But she isn’t helpless. Instead, she remains on the giving end of help.
58-year-old Luzviminda Tinio is one of the recipients of Castro’s goodwill. Since Tinio moved in their village 7 years ago, Castro has been assisting her in her needs.
Tinio was born mute. While she and her partner bore a son, he had moved to Manila and hadn’t kept in touch since. Tinio’s partner, 54-year-old Arnel Torres, is the one who works for Tinio. He calls for passengers of jeepneys, earning Php80-100 a day.
In 2013, Tinio’s house collapsed after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the country. Since then, they have not been able to repair it. Instead, the couple stays in a neighbor’s home, which foundations is also threatening to collapse. Sometimes Tinio would sleep over at Castro’s house.
Tinio also sustained an injury in her back when the house fell over while she was inside. Today, that incident left a bump on her spine. Castro had brought her to a doctor and they were told it might develop into cancer. But being poor herself, having her checked by a medical professional is the most that Castro could do for Tinio. Castro makes up by giving her friend her unconditional care.
“I am willing to help her as long as she is here and I am alive. I will help her because she is like a sister to me and I love her,” said Castro.
Castro’s goodwill towards her neighbors stems from a wish to make up for the lost chance to be filial with her parents.
“When I moved here, I wasn’t able to go to back to my hometown anymore until my parents passed away. I never got the chance to see them. That’s why whenever I see people in need, I give them my love,” added Castro, a native of Caramoan Island.
Meanwhile, Tinio also received a sack of 20-kilo rice to her delight. She may be unable to express her gratitude in words but Tzu Chi volunteers could see it written all over her face.
Tinio’s partner also extended his thanks for the gift of rice.
“It means a lot to us. This is our dream – to have more than just a kilo of rice. It’s almost like a treasure. We won’t go hungry anymore. If it’s just us, we could never afford to buy this much rice that you have given,” Torres said.
Angeles City Vice Mayor Bryan Nepomuceno, who attended the rice distribution, lauded Tzu Chi and the Taiwan government’s Rice for the Poor project. According to him, it isn’t just rice that Tzu Chi is imparting with his constituents but food for the soul as well.
“First, it addresses the basic need [of the families] but at the same time it gives the people self-worth because it’s not just dole out. From what I have seen in the program earlier, there are also lessons that are being given to them. I hope the recipients will bring home these lessons as well and live them out in their daily lives,” said the vice mayor.
The founder of Brightwoods School, Ana Maria Zubiri, also attended the relief program to express her appreciation of Tzu Chi and Master Cheng Yen’s charity works. Zubiri did not only generously allowed Tzu Chi to use her school’s covered court for the relief activity but she also allowed the teachers from her school to join the Tzu Chi volunteers in visiting the potential rice beneficiaries weeks before the rice distribution.
Although she and her school staff have been helping out their community and in the wake of disasters across the country before, coming across Tzu Chi had opened a wider door for them to do charity works even more.
Her support of Tzu Chi’s mission in their city comes from the inspiration she gained after visiting Tzu Chi’s headquarters in Taiwan and meeting Master Cheng Yen in person in 2016.
“We were so privileged to see her [Master Cheng Yen] and witness the 50th year celebration of Tzu Chi. We saw the whole history of [Tzu Chi] and you know it’s really great love in action. It’s not just words. So I was so touched with that. It changed my life,” she said.
Because of this inspiration, love continues to embrace the neediest families in Angeles City, Pampanga.