Friday, Mar 05

Tzu Chi’s 3-in-1 event participants defy the odds

May 13, 2012 | Camille Nepomuceno

48-year-old Milagros Crsitobal, a breast cancer survivor, manages to join the crowd of 5, 000 people who partake in the historic human formation of the bodhi leaf, lotus flower, and Tzu Chi's logo during the foundation's 3-in-1 event on May 13. 【Photo by Camille Nepomuceno】

Story Highlights

  • 48-year-old Milagros Cristobal a resident of Dreamland chose to join the 3-in-1 celebration despite her condition, having stage four breast cancer.

  • Alma Estelloso, 36 washed the feet of her mother Carmilita Fernandez, 57 as a way of saying thank you to all the things the latter did for her and her siblings.

  • Milagros, Alma, and Carmilita together with 4,997 participants partook in the human formation which is a first in Tzu Chi Philippines’ history.

She was diagnosed to have a stage four breast cancer on December 16, 2010, an event she will never forget. "God will never give us challenges that we can't surpass. It was hard to accept at first but eventually when I accepted that it is already part of my life, the burden was easier to carry."

Despite her condition, Milagros pushed through to joining in the grandiose human formation, one of the highlights of the 3-in-1 celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday, Mother’s Day, and Tzu Chi’s 46th Anniversary.

Milagros who is a resident of Dreamland in Rosario, Cavite was among the 5, 000 formation volunteers who partook in forming the bodhi leaf, lotus flower, and Tzu Chi logo. The other participants are Tzu Chi donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, doctors, and staff.

Dreamland is a community near a dumpsite which was aided by Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines back in 2007 after typhoon Dodong (international name: Wutip) ravaged the area. From then on, the Buddhist organization continues to aid its residents and shoulders the educational expenses of nearly 200 students.

In gratitude to the foundation, 320 Dreamland residents joined in the historic formation.

I am happy I was given the chance to join in this formation which is a first in Tzu Chi Philippines’ history. There are people who are laughing at me (because I am bald) but I just don’t mind them, my mind is focused here in the event,” she said.

She became bald after three cycles of chemotherapy; the humanitarian organization aided her since the detection of her cancer on 2010. Despite her condition; she pursued to join in the formation together with the others who are physically strong. She had joined almost all the rehearsals for the said celebration whether rain or shine.

On the other hand, seeing how the foundation does it missions to help the suffering and the needy, “I told one of the volunteers that once I am cancer-free, I will utilize my time being a Tzu Chi volunteer. Though I don’t have the finances to donate, I will just give my service and help with their missions,” Milagros mused.

Meanwhile, when the Tzu Chi volunteers requested the children in the audience to wash the feet of their beloved mothers, the highlight of the Mother’s Day celebration, Alma Estelloso, 36, brought her mother Carmilita Fernandez, 57, in front, “This is my way of saying thank you to all the things she had mindfully did for us.”

Carmilita cannot help but shed her tears as her daughter kneels before her and sincerely washes her feet, “I feel overwhelmed with what she did. She was the only one who did this to me. It feels like that all my sacrifices are worth it.”

The formation participant Milagros, and mother and daughter Alma and Carmilita are only a few lives touched by Tzu Chi Foundation around the world.

The 3-in-1 event took place at the Marikina Sports Park on May 13 from 4:30pm to 10pm.

  • Alma Estelloso washes the feet of her mother Carmilita Fernandez during a public celebration of Mother’s Day hosted by Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines last May 13. The washing of feet is the simplest yet most poignant act that a child can do to give back to their mothers’ pure love. 【Photo by Camille Nepomuceno】

  • Despite her condition, cancer patient Milagros Cristobal joins the celebration of Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines where they formed grand patterns of a Tzu Chi logo, bodhi leaf and lotus flower. The activity required thorough rehearsals amid rain or shine since March until the actual day on May 13. 【Photo by Camille Nepomuceno】