Wednesday, Aug 12

Achieving true happiness and prosperity

February 25, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

Humble lights illuminate the wishes of the attendees of the Year-end Blessing Ceremony at Greenmeadows, Quezon City. Among these are the wishes of Tzu Chi volunteer Juanita Te (second from left): purified hearts, a world free of disasters, and longer life for Dharma Master Cheng Yen. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • As wishes for happiness and prosperity are exchanged, Tzu Chi during the February 25 Year-end Blessing Ceremony at Greenmeadows, Quezon City teaches people that being happy and enjoying great wealth can take forms other than material desires.


For many, the eponymous greeting “gong xi fa cai” is understood as “Happy Chinese New Year.” A closer look at its direct translation, however, actually wishes a person “great happiness and prosperity.”

But what does it mean to be happy and enjoy great wealth? The world today sees happiness and prosperity in the amount of material desires acquired, most notably money. Sometimes, seeking such things requires a second look into one’s own life, a look into what really puts him or her in high spirits. One can have all the money in the world, but it won’t necessarily make him or her prosperous.

The Year-end Blessing Ceremony on February 25 helps the attendees, hailing from the affluent San Juan-Ortigas area, understand the meaning of achieving happiness and prosperity. Through Tzu Chi, they see the meaning in helping others be happy. The sight of people affected by disasters smiling after receiving so much help from kind spirits is fulfillment in itself.

As wishes are aplenty even as Chinese New Year has passed, Tzu Chi volunteers took the opportunity to help guests make them. One highlight of the celebration is a wishing station, a shelf that holds around 180 electric candles in 9 rows. Guests would write their wishes on paper and put them inside a capsule to be fitted onto the candle, which is then switched on.

Tzu Chi volunteer Molita Chua says the lighting of the wishes signifies “lighting up the heart.”

“The reason for the turmoil in the world is that the hearts and minds of people aren’t purified. We hope [with this activity] that we can purify and light every dark corner of the world,” Chua shares.

She adds that the activity helps people achieve their goals for the New Year.

One particular wish for the New Year stands out among wishes of blessings for the guests’ families. Tzu Chi volunteer Juanita Te only desires two things: purify people’s hearts and for Master Cheng Yen to live past 100 years old.

“The second is that Buddha grants Master Cheng Yen—our master—long, long life so that she can do more things for the good of the people,” says Te, a volunteer for 20 years.

Other activities include Chinese calligraphy on doorway banners, a staple of Chinese New Year festivities. Called chunlian, these banners contain phrases that wish the household a happy and prosperous future.

Marvic Ching, whose parents are Tzu Chi volunteers, offers his artistic skills to the celebration by creating caricatures of attendees by hand. An art teacher by profession, he draws the caricatures by hand, yet the finished product appears as if drawn using a digital tablet. Among his works is a portrait of his godfather, Tzu Chi volunteer Lino Sy.

“I hope that Tzu Chi continues its wonderful work of helping people. We know that every year, disasters happen when we least expect them. But I’m glad that Tzu Chi is always able to help,” says Ching.

However small, any effort to inspire people triggers a cascade. Inspiring a handful of people will soon find its way to a broader audience, which will inspire an even broader audience. Tzu Chi wishes to purify hearts and minds, as well as light up every dark corner, to help people realize the true meaning of happiness and prosperity.

  • Referring to a book of Chinese poems and proverbs, a calligraphy artist writes down his chosen phrase on the paper. This Chinese New Year banner, known as a chunlian, will find its way to the doorway of a household wishing for happiness and prosperity. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer gets busy making paper dog faces, writing “Happy New Year” on each one. The year 2018 is the Year of the Dog. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A guest receives her banner for her doorway. Each banner sports a unique poem or proverb on happiness and prosperity. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Since her husband passed away 20 years ago, Tzu Chi volunteer Juanita Te has been dedicating her time to charity. On her hand is a list of her wishes for this year. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Around 200 attendees and Tzu Chi volunteers pay their respects to the Buddha by making three bows. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez cites the accomplishments of the Buddhist organization last year and its goals for this year. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Art teacher Marvic Ching spends the good part of the ceremony making caricatures of guests for free. It’s easy to mistake his hand-crafted work for something drawn on a digital tablet. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Once again, Filipino artist Gino Padilla entertains the crowd with his version of “Love in the World.” He also performed at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony on February 4 at Jing Si Hall. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Juanita Te receives her ang pao with the rest of her fellow attendees. The red packets contain three grains of rice, a commemorative coin, and a random Jing Si aphorism. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers perform to the tune of another Tzu Chi song, highlighting the activity’s theme of “lighting up one’s heart.” 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】