Wednesday, Jul 08

Beyond gratefulness among rice recipients

February 03, 2018 | Grace Limbher Daigdigan

A simultaneous rice distribution is held at the 44 barangays of Iligan City. Rice recipients are grateful for Tzu Chi Foundation's willingness to help others regardless of race and religion. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigidgan】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi volunteers conclude their five-day outreach for those affected by Tropical Storms Vinta (Tembin) and Agaton (Bolaven) with a rice relief activity for six barangays in Iligan City on February 3. The activity benefitted a total of 1,267 families, some even recalling the help Tzu Chi put forward seven years ago during the siege of Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi).


Six barangays in Iligan City battered by two tropical cyclones were blessed to receive 20 kilos of rice from Taiwan distributed by Tzu Chi Foundation.

A total of 1,267 families on February 3 gathered at Sta. Filomena Central School in Barangay Sta. Filomena and received their share of love. The six barangays—Abuno, Tipanoy, San Roque, Kiwalan, Acmac, and Sta. Filomena—bore the brunt of Tropical Storms Vinta (Tembin) and Agaton (Bolaven) that hit consecutively.

Though this was the last day of Tzu Chi’s five-day relief operation, the foundation will continue to spread hope and love to the affected residents through the teachings of Dharma Master Cheng Yen.

The families were grateful for having been helped a second time by Tzu Chi – the first was after Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) in 2011. For Tzu Chi volunteer Zenaida Gaborni, no words can express how happy she is to have been part of the outreach.

A native of Barangay Kiwalan, she left for Manila 18 years ago to seek better job opportunities. She crossed paths with Tzu Chi in 2009 after Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana). When she learned about Tzu Chi’s relief operation, she immediately volunteered not just to see her family but also to help her fellowmen.

“I am beyond grateful because Tzu Chi is able to reach my hometown in Barangay Kiwalan [after being affected by the storms], most especially to Master Cheng Yen,” states Tzu Chi volunteer Gaborni.

Local volunteers complemented the Tzu Chi volunteers on site to help accommodate the large number of recipients. Agner Gomez, 32, was inspired to serve his fellowmen after learning about the compassion that defines Tzu Chi.

“[I volunteered] because it is nice to help others, even though you don’t have the means [money] to help. You just have to show compassion to others in helping them out,” shares Gomez, a father of three who makes ends meet as a tricycle driver. He adds that his family is often in debt for the rice they buy, which is why the 20 kilos from Tzu Chi is a big help.

Urbano Etulle, 68, is a father of five in the mountains of Barangay Kiwalan. He wakes up as early as 5:00 a.m. to work as a helper in a factory. In his free time, he works as a gardener or janitor at Sta. Filomena Central School. With his earning of Php300 a day, he’s unable to pay for his medication to manage his arthritis. “I am thankful for the 20-kilo sack of rice because now I don’t have to work too much [as long as the sacked rice is enough] just to serve rice when we eat,” he shares.

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  • Despite his arthritis, 68-year-old Urbano Etulle walks for 30 minutes from home to downtown to make a living for his family. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Apart from receiving 20 kilos of rice, recipients get a free copy of Tzu Chi's monthly publication, Tzu Chi Express, to learn more about the foundation. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigidgan】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Zenaida Gaborni (left) ushers recipients during the rice distribution. She is happy for the service she offers to her hometown and feels the sincerity of the recipients through their sweetest smiles. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Rice recipients and Tzu Chi volunteers perform the Tzu Chi song "One Family," which lets them feel the warm love of Tzu Chi regardless of race and religion. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Rice recipients are all ears as a Tzu Chi social worker shares the importance of spreading good karma across humanity. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • On behalf of the Iliganons, Iligan City representative Frederick Siao expresses his deepest gratitude to Tzu Chi Foundation for the rice distribution. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • Affected families from six barangays in Iligan City pray for peace of mind, a harmonious society, and a disaster-free world. They also pray to give thanks for the blessings they have. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】

  • To show thanks to Tzu Chi Foundation for the 20-kilos sack of rice, Agner Gomez volunteers in helping the elderly, pregnant, and handicapped to carry their sack of rice. 【Photo by Grace Limbher Daigdigan】