In observance of Tzu Chi Philippines’ 23rd founding anniversary, over 60 Tzu Chi volunteers gather at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City on November 8 for the morning Dharma talk, a bowing pilgrimage, and the chanting of the preface of the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings.
Tzu Chi Philippines is celebrating its 23rd year of founding anniversary on November 8, 2017. On the same day four years ago, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the Eastern Visayas region, particularly the Leyte province.
Tzu Chi was among the first organizations to respond to the immediate needs of the typhoon survivors. Through provision of hot meals, cash aid, basic necessities, and a cash-for-work cum cleanup program, the worst-hit areas managed to recover.
In observance of both significant events in Tzu Chi Philippines’ history, Tzu Chi volunteers gather at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City as early as 5:00 a.m. for the morning Dharma talk, a bowing pilgrimage, and chanting of some verses from the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings.
While the bowing pilgrimage is weekly done by Tzu Chi volunteers and listening to the morning Dharma talk a daily habit, these ceremonies take on a special meaning this time.
“This year, Tzu Chi Philippines’ anniversary falls on a Wednesday so we thought of holding a bowing pilgrimage again, listening to the Dharma talk and chanting the preface of the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings together,” says Tzu Chi volunteer Linda Chua, who served as the first CEO of Tzu Chi’s Philippine chapter.
The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings is considered by Mahayana Buddhists as the prologue to the Lotus Sutra, upon which Tzu Chi’s Dharma path and Jing Si Dharma-lineage are all based.
As the sun rises in the east, Tzu Chi volunteers piously do the three steps and one bow while chanting a prayer from the sutra. The bowing pilgrimage was joined by over 60 Tzu Chi volunteers from across the Metro Manila.
“By holding this meditative ceremony as we observe our anniversary, we wish to pass on our individual merits to Master Cheng Yen so that she may live longer while also praying for our brothers and sisters in Tzu Chi that they may always be healthy so that we can continue to carry out Tzu Chi’s works together,” says Tzu Chi volunteer Lino Sy.
Warlita Azucena, 73, is one of the oldest volunteers to join the pilgrimage. She has been doing so every Wednesday since 2010. For about five years, Azucena was a beneficiary of Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work environmental protection program, allowing her to raise her grandchildren on her own. She continues to volunteer to this day to give back the help and as a way of using her time meaningfully.
“My prayer is for the senseless violence and natural calamities around the world to end. I hope Master [Cheng Yen] will continue to guide us and give us wisdom so that we can keep our minds clear and so that there will be no more calamities,” says Azucena, a resident of Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City.
The ceremonies end with the chanting of the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings’ preface.
As Tzu Chi Philippines enters its 24th year, Tzu Chi volunteer and former CEO Manuel Siao reflects on the path ahead and finds a source of strength from the teachings of the Buddha.
“[In her morning talks] these past days, the Master has been emphasizing that everyone has to have faith in the Dharma. By abiding in the Dharma, we can find the solution and our life direction,” Siao says. “Let us not doubt the Dharma and Master’s teachings. Let us follow the Dharma as we walk the Bodhisattva path because everyone can be a Buddha.”