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19th Youth Camp brings spiritual enrichment to Leyteño youth

November 30, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

Participants were introduced to the proper use of chopsticks and other eating etiquette on the first day of Ormoc’s first Tzu Chi Youth Still Thoughts Life Camp. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi Youth Still Thoughts Life Camp reaches the youths of Leyte as it holds its first two-day camp in Ormoc City. Over a hundred youths from Ormoc and Kananga came to learn about Tzu Chi and the values it stands for.

  • Some of the topics covered on the first day include a history of Tzu Chi’s affinity with Leyte, Tzu Chi etiquette, and filial piety.


The youths of Leyte make a significant step toward becoming Tzu Ching (Tzu Chi Youth) with the first youth camp in the region.

From November 30 to December 1, the 19th Tzu Chi Still Thoughts Life Camp brings spiritual enrichment to the youths of the Great Love Villages in Ormoc and Kananga. At Origami Events Center in Ormoc City, 93 youths from Ormoc and 40 youths from Kananga join for a two-day camp filled with learning experiences.

As this is the first youth camp for Ormoc, seven Tzu Ching and five Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila travel to Ormoc to assist with its management. They share their experiences in holding such camps with their local counterparts, hoping that the latter can eventually hold their own camp in the future.

“In this camp, we want to instill Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s Jing Si aphorism that there are two things that cannot wait: being filial to our parents and doing good deeds. Through filial piety, they’ll be able to repay gratitude to their parents for their love. Through doing good deeds, they’ll be able to alleviate the suffering of this world,” said Manila Tzu Ching member Kinlon Fan, overall camp head.

Fan adds that the youths here will have the privilege to join their fellow Tzu Ching for the Winter Camp in Taiwan where they’ll be able to meet Dharma Master Cheng Yen.

The Ormoc Tzu Chi Youth is a group comprised of children ages 15 to 25. Inspired by Tzu Chi’s affinity after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the young ones of Ormoc—while not as affected as Tacloban—formed the group to help carry out Tzu Chi’s missions in the area. To date, it has over a hundred members.

The camp covers various topics on the first day, starting with the history of Tzu Chi’s affinity with Leyte. Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao, one of the Tzu Ching pioneers in the Philippines, talks about his journey to a storm-ravaged Tacloban five years ago. Before the participants, he highlights the value of life that drove Tzu Chi to initiate a massive relief operation for the city.

He also sees the youth as “the brightest stars” that will bring hope to those in need. For that, he wishes for them to understand the value of life through doing good deeds.

“We took this opportunity to set up this camp to guide them into the proper development under Tzu Chi and inspire their innate goodness. That way, they can be the guiding light for this land,” says Siao.

Tzu Chi etiquette teaches the youth the proper way of eating, walking, and behaving. More than being more presentable, proper etiquette cultivates their spirit into appreciating goodness and beauty.


Cherish filial piety

Filial piety forms one of two core subjects of the camp, the other being environmental protection. According to Buddha, love for parents in any form constitutes creating blessings for one’s life in the future. It’s a form of spiritual cultivation anyone can do, especially children.

Most of the participants admit to coming into conflict with their parents, even after learning about Tzu Chi values. Kim Sosmeña admits that he often yells at his mother for being annoying. Despite this, his mother continues to prepare breakfast for him and give what he needs for the day ahead.

Sharing with his fellow youth made him realize the regret he’ll be left once his mother is gone.

“If I lose my mother and see happy families still with their mothers, I’ll feel sad and really miss her,” says Kim.

But at least he still has two parents that love him. Flordeliz Ardiente, a youth from the Hiloctogan Great Love Village in Kananga, lost her mother when she was three years old. Her mother died when giving birth to Flordeliz’s younger brother. Flor’s lifelong wish is to be able to feel a mother’s love.

“I have never felt a mother’s love. I could only wish for that feeling of being loved by a mother,” she narrates.

Before joining the Ormoc Tzu Chi Youth, Rowegine Legaspi would go to parties and engage in ill vices such as smoking and drinking alcohol. When she was young, her father left the family. And her relationship with her mother was not good.

Upon learning about filial piety, she starts cherishing the current family she has including her stepfather. But she holds no ill will against her biological father.

“I will love my real father even though I have never seen him and don’t know what he looks like. I don’t have grudges against him. But I’m grateful that he brought me to this world,” says Gine.

  • Youth participants make a beeline for their ride outside the Great Love City in Barangay Liloan. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The event opens with a short sign language performance of the Tzu Chi Youth’s anthem: “A World Filled with Warmth.” 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Ching Kinlon Fan volunteered as overall camp leader. He and six fellow Tzu Ching traveled from Manila to help with the camp. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • With so much information to take to heart, the participants diligently take down notes. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao shares with the local youth the beginning of Tzu Chi’s affinity with Leyte, starting from the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).【Photo by Robert Ejada】

  • A participant learns to do the Buddhist hand gesture of showing respect. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Lunch for the participants is served in a solemn manner, with volunteers bringing the lunch bowls to them. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The afternoon of the first day plays host to a myriad of games. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Rey Peñalosa is the speaker for the subject on filial piety. He begins with a narrative of his own family life. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A series of short videos on filial piety are shown to the participants. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • With tears in her eyes, this participant writes a letter to her parents expressing her love for them. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Kim Sosmeña admits to yelling and throwing tantrums at his mother for being annoying. Here, he writes to his mother about how he regrets doing such things. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Rowegine Legaspi (left) listens to her group mates sharing their insights. Once engaging in ill vices, Gine now only holds love for her family and friends. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】