In 1991, Master Cheng Yen received a Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, for her Community Leadership. Along with the award came a prize money of US $30,000(about Php825,000 then) which the Master gave half to the victims of China flooding and the other half to the victims of 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 the sufferings 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 started out with humble yet determined beginnings. There was no office then, so meetings to plan out relief operations and other charitable activities were held at the volunteers’ house. The following years passed by with the volunteers transferring from one office to another, overcoming such inconvenience through their desire to make a difference in this country.
The venue changed, but the determination to carry out the mission and the thought of helping the poor was only strengthened day after day. Their fervent efforts soon paid off as Brother Walter Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan, supported Tzu Chi Philippines in purchasing a 4,400 square meter-lot to be used for its future expansion.
In September 2002, the Still Thoughts Hall which will serve as Tzu Chi’s main operation center in the Philippines had its groundbreaking. Six years later, on March 29, 2008, the Tzu Chi Philippines’ Still Thoughts Hall, finally had its official inauguration.
Inspired by the Master’s selfless devotion to relieve the suffering individuals, the number of Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines increased gradually. The missions reached out to more people, bringing countless individuals to be inspired and discover one’s value in life. By reaching out to the needy across the Philippine archipelago, the seedlings of love was spread further, leading to the establishment of other liaison offices, such as Cebu and Zamboanga.
Although Tzu Chi Philippines started with members coming from the Filipino-Chinese communities, a number of Filipinos have also started to join 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.