Wednesday, Apr 14

A healthy lifestyle for a healthy environment

November 06, 2018 | Charissa Tulinao

Tzu Chi kitchen staff served lunch to construction workers of the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus everyday. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

Story Highlights

  • The continuing renovation of the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila has promoted change among workers, sharing their stories of transformation through vegetarian meals prepared and served at the site.


The ongoing renovation of the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus (TCGLC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila has brought about change of lifestyle for the construction workers involved.

Located in Sta. Mesa, Manila, the TCGLC is a vital facility that supports the foundation’s missions. It hosts the Livelihood Training Program for training various skills like machine and computer operation to indigents. The Tzu Chi Eye Clinic inside the campus provides free consultation and treatment to those suffering from degrading vision. It’s also an important logistics hub, housing relief goods to be distributed to disaster victims all over the country.

Workers working on the new Jing Si Hall and the adjacent building that will serve as dormitories and classrooms know about Tzu Chi from various circumstances. But most of them are enlightened all the same after being with Tzu Chi for a while.

Reygie Santiago, 38, proclaims himself to be a vegetarian. After working for Tzu Chi, he noticed the change in his work ethic and he felt stronger and more energized.

“Before becoming a vegetarian, I always feel restless and get tired easily. But since I’ve adapted this kind of lifestyle, I felt better,” Santiago said.

He shares that he no longer has any problem working overtime, eliciting surprised looks from his co-workers.

“They always ask me why I work overtime, and I simply say that it’s because of being a vegetarian,” he stated.

Most of the workers are acquaintances from the neighborhood of Barangay Old Balara, Quezon City like Julie Lacson and Rolly Avelino, they remember their first encounter with Tzu Chi: “When a typhoon struck our place, Tzu Chi came to distribute relief goods,” 43-year-old Avelino said, referring to Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in September of 2009.

He conveys how much he appreciates the volunteers cooking for them every day and the healthy meals they eat that help boost their stamina.

“I’m also impressed by the way the volunteers cook the food. It’s more delicious than the food we eat at a restaurant and at home. Also, given that it’s all vegetables, it gives me more energy and strength throughout the day,” he narrated. “I’m sure that I will continue to be a vegetarian after working for Tzu Chi. I will also take the opportunity to teach my kids about prevention of animal killing through vegetarianism. I don’t see anything wrong with that because it’s for the benefit of their health as well as for the environment,” he added.

His friend and neighbor, 65-year-old Julie Lacson admits that he never prioritized eating vegetables because he prefers to eat meat. Four months of working for Tzu Chi makes him aware of the significance of healthy eating.

“I’m happy that I learned to love vegetables because I used to feel obliged to kill animals for food. But now, I don’t need to do that anymore,” Lacson shared.

Julie promised to continue this lifestyle beyond working for Tzu Chi to be able to live a longer and more fulfilled life.

  • Tzu Chi Kitchen staff prepare food in a makeshift kitchen at Tzu Chi Great Love Campus. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • A variety of vegetarian meals are prepared in the kitchen everyday. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Lunch was brought to the dining area by the kitchen staff. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Since working in the renovation, Julie Lacson (left) has enjoyed every vegetarian meal served to him and his fellow workers. He vows to be a vegetarian even after the project is over. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】

  • Workers enjoys each others company at lunch. 【Photo by Charissa Tulinao】