In 1991, founder of Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Foundation, Master Cheng Yen received The Magsaysay Social Leadership Award from the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. This is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Asia. Along with the award came a prize money of US $30,000 (worth approximately Php825,000 then) which the Master distributed to two beneficiaries - the victims of the China flooding and of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. The award paved way to the exposure of the Master’s compassion to the Chinese community in the Philippines.
Years later, a group of local Chinese led by volunteer Linda Chua, visited Tzu Chi’s different establishments in Taiwan. The group vowed before the Master to bring the seedlings of love back to the Philippines and help the Master in carrying out the mission of alleviating suffering and inspiring people in the country. The Master gave her blessings, setting November 8, 1994 as the official date of inauguration of Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines.
Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines is one of Tzu Chi Foundation’s chapters in more than 57 countries around the globe. In the beginning, the local arm had no office so meetings to plan relief operations and other charitable activities were held at the volunteers’ houses. Several temporary offices later, Brother Walter Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan came to their aid and supported Tzu Chi Philippines in purchasing a 4,400 square meter-lot to be used for the foundation’s expansion.
On September 2002, the Still Thoughts Hall which now serves as Tzu Chi’s main operation center in the Philippines had its ground breaking. Six years later, on March 29, 2008, Tzu Chi Philippines’ Still Thoughts Hall finally opened its doors.
Inspired by the Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s selfless devotion to relieve the suffering of individuals, the number of Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines grew. The missions reached out to more people, resulting in countless of individuals being inspired and discovering their value in life. By helping the underprivileged across the Philippine archipelago, the seedlings of love were spread further, leading to the establishment of liaison offices in locations such as Cebu and Zamboanga.
Although Tzu Chi Philippines started with members coming from the Filipino-Chinese communities, a number of Filipinos have also joined the group. On March 29, 2009, exactly a year after the inauguration of the Still Thoughts Hall, a number of Filipinos, most of whom were beneficiaries of the Foundation, joined Tzu Chi’s goal in alleviating the sufferings of their fellowmen.
Tzu Chi volunteers selflessly contribute through a mindset of gratitude, expressing their sincerest care and support to each and every individual in need.
The shared goal of Tzu Chi volunteers is to cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and honesty within while exercising kindness, compassion, joy, and selflessness to humanity through concrete actions. Transcending the bounds of race, nationality, language, and religion, they serve the world under the notion that “when others are hurting, we feel their pain; when others suffer, we feel their sorrow”. Not only do the volunteers endeavor to promote the universal value of “Great Love,” they also fully employ the humanitarian spirit of Chinese culture to its utmost.
Tzu Chi Foundation’s “Four Major Missions” consist of Charity, Medicine, Education, and Humanity. Adding the efforts in Bone Marrow Donation, Environmental Protection, Community Volunteerism, and International Relief, the undertakings are now collectively known as “Tzu Chi’s Eight Footprints”.
Tzu Chi Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1966 by Buddhist nun, Dharma Master Cheng Yen in the impoverished east coast of Taiwan. The Foundation has been contributing to better social and community services, medical care, education and humanism in Taiwan for over 50 years. Master Cheng Yen firmly believes that suffering in this world is caused by material deprivation and spiritual poverty. She felt that “lack of love for others” has been the root of many problems in this world. “To save the world, we must begin by transforming human hearts.”
A volunteer-based, spiritual as well as welfare organization, Tzu Chi’s missions focus on giving material aid and inspiring love and humanity in both the givers and receivers. The humanitarian work is both a means to help those in need, and a way to open the eyes of the volunteer to the harsher side of life, so that through giving, they may find spiritual happiness and life’s true meaning.
Tzu Chi volunteers living abroad began setting up overseas chapters in 1985. They used money that they have earned in their country of residence to help the poor and needy in their local communities. Emergency aid to typhoon-stricken Bangladesh in 1991 marked the beginning of the Foundation’s international relief efforts. Firmly believing that, “nothing is more valuable than life, all beings are equal”, Tzu Chi demonstrates first hand that they can overcome obstacles of time, distance, and politics to provide relief and hope to victims of war, flood, and drought. To date, 95 countries have received Tzu Chi’s aid.
From the icy Arctic Circle to the sweltering tropics, Tzu Chi volunteers have left their footprints in many faraway lands, risking their lives in epidemics and wars. Their belief in “making the impossible possible” has sustained them in accomplishing many arduous tasks. In addition to material aid, Tzu Chi has also encouraged mutual help among disaster victims and assisted them to become independent by involving them in rebuilding their own communities. The ultimate goal is to inspire disaster victims to contribute to others in turn when they have the ability to do so, thus creating a global village of Great Love. Tzu Chi has expanded to all five major continents of the world with chapters and offices in 57 countries as of 2017.
The Ateneo De Manila University awarded the Parangal Lingkod Sambayanan (Community Service Award) to Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines on September 27, 2016. The award is in recognition of Tzu Chi’s excellent relief and rehabilitation response for survivors of disasters, particularly Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009 and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. Part of the university’s annual Traditional University Awards, the said accolade honors organizations that have been influential in changing society.
The municipal government of San Mateo, Rizal bestowed the Gawad Parangal Award to Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines on September 21, 2016 in recognition of its role in uplifting the lives of San Mateo residents through its charity, medical, education, and recycling programs. Awarded during the town’s 445th Foundation Day, this honor recognizes individuals and groups that contributed to the well-being of the people of San Mateo. The foundation has consistently received this honor since 2013.
On October 14, 2014, the Department of Education (DepEd) honored Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines as an education partner for its prefabricated classroom donation to children affected by the 2013 Bohol earthquake, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Leyte, and the Zamboanga siege. DepEd invites the private sector, especially non-government organizations, to become partners in improving the quality of education in the country.
On January 16, 2014, Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines received the Panata Ko Sa Bayan (My Pledge to Society) Award from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Tzu Chi is recognized for helping the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Leyte recover. Tzu Chi’s pledge to the people involves giving material and spiritual aid to disaster victims, the poor, and the sick. The organization received similar awards from DSWD back in 2010 and 2011.
In February 23, 2011, Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines was formally commended by the House of Representatives for providing the country’s marginalized sector with much needed relief services for the past 17 years. Authored by Marikina Second District Rep. Romero Federico “Miro” Quimbo, House Resolution 64 expresses the appreciation of the House of Representative to Tzu Chi Foundation’s invaluable service and assistance to the Filipino nation.
In appreciation of its valuable role in the government’s ongoing anti-poverty campaign, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has handed Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines with its prestigious “Pagkilala sa Natatanging Kontribusyon sa Bayan” (BAYAN) Awards during the agency’s 60th founding anniversary last January 26. Gracing this momentous occasion was President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Tzu Chi was built on funds collected in a bamboo coin bank. The foundation’s humble beginnings is a reminder that no contribution is too small to create a great impact. Every peso you donate will make a difference. Just the amount you spend on a cup of coffee will go a long way.