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Beyond the image of a disaster responder

January 14, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

Tzu Chi donor Joyce Chua (right) receives her New Year’s gift from Dharma Master Cheng Yen: an ang pao containing grains of rice and a special Tzu Chi coin. Every year, attendees of the Year-end Blessing Ceremony receive such gifts as reminders to work toward peace of mind, a harmonious society, and a disaster-free world. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • This New Year, Tzu Chi hopes to show people that it’s active even when there are no immediate calamities. The January 14 Year-End Blessing Ceremony at the Jing Si Hall invites over 100 donors and volunteers to become more active as Tzu Chi expands its reach in the Philippines in the future.


As the New Year settles in, Tzu Chi hopes to show people that they’re more than just first responders in a calamity.

At the Year-end Blessing Ceremony on January 14 at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City, Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez speaks of the organization’s achievements over the past year and those to come this year. In light of this, he encourages the audience of over 100 donors and fellow volunteers to continue supporting Tzu Chi any way they can.

“We hope that people won’t just see Tzu Chi in action during calamities. I hope we can do more things such as the Livelihood Training Program, which is a long-term program compared to a relief mission,” Yunez says in a post-event interview.

Over the past year, Tzu Chi volunteers have responded in four major calamities: the aftermath of Typhoon Nina (Nock-Ten) in Catanduanes, the humanitarian crisis following the Battle of Marawi, the destruction left by the July earthquake in Leyte, and the more recent Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-Tak). Tzu Chi has launched relief operations for the disaster-stricken areas, with more to come this 2018.

To prove that it’s also active when there are no immediate calamities, Tzu Chi has expanded its long-term programs. In November, it opened the Machine Operation Course for the first batch of 23 students. This two-month program teaches the students how to operate and maintain industrial machinery, a skill in high demand in a lucrative market.

The milestones of the Philippines chapter are highlighted in its 2017 Great Treasury Sutra. The 18-minute video is a yearly report of the chapter’s activities (a global version is produced by Tzu Chi Taiwan), educating people new and familiar to Tzu Chi. This year’s theme urges everyone to “unite in great love toward a world of kindness” and “pave the path at each step to protect the Earth.”

“In this Year-end Blessing, Master Cheng Yen wants us to cultivate a pious heart so that the world may be free of disasters,” explains Tzu Chi volunteer Linda Limqueco.

Other highlights of the Great Treasury Sutra include two medical cases referred to Taiwan for surgery. One is Sarah Dayday who had a tumor in her lower jaw, and Rejean Ligue who had severe scoliosis.

Attendees take the opportunity to surrender their coin banks, heavy with love and care, for the benefit of the needy. Although retired from her job, donor Ban Lee Lu understands the inspiration Tzu Chi instills on her colleagues.

“I know some friends who want to donate to Tzu Chi every year and continue to do so today, even my grandson,” says Ban, who brought five full coin banks. After which, donors received fresh coin banks to fill up again.

The Chua family is among the oldest donors, with parents Tony and Joyce instilling the value of charity among their three children. Last year, a Tzu Chi volunteer acquainted with Tony invited the latter to the Jing Si Abode in Taiwan. After learning a great deal about the organization, he desired for his family to partake in Tzu Chi’s humanitarian work.

“I brought my children and my wife here. So that next time, they’ll know how they can help others,” he says.

Since then, the family has been practicing sparing a peso for the coin bank a day. Master Cheng Yen urges people to spare a dollar or so each day instead of an equivalent donation once a month to cultivate blessings daily. Joyce feels that their investment of blessings is well-placed.

“Tzu Chi helps people no matter where they are. That’s why we feel that our donations, as little as a peso a day, is of great benefit to the needy,” says Joyce.

“We also admire Tzu Chi for their unconditional help. A lot of people know them for not being selective about the people they help. Everyone is equal in Tzu Chi’s eyes. As long as they’re in need, Tzu Chi will come to help,” she adds.

Near the end of the ceremony, the attendees receive the traditional ang pao. Each red envelope contains three grains of rice and a special Tzu Chi coin. The ang pao is Master Cheng Yen’s New Year gift to the world, as well as a reminder to people of her three vows: peace of mind, a harmonious society, and a disaster-free world.

  • Love and care from a coin bank belonging to donor Ban Lee Lu (right, background) slide down into a pot. Donors take this opportunity to pool their blessings for the benefit of people in need.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer kneels steady as candles are distributed among the attendees. These will be used for the prayer at the end of the program.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez cites the chapter’s accomplishments over the past year, as well as accomplishments to be made this year. He also urges the attendees to continue their support.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The Great Treasury Sutra is a report on Tzu Chi’s activities over the past year. Attendees watch the local sutra, which highlights the activities of the Philippines chapter. Later, they also watched the global sutra created by Tzu Chi Taiwan.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A group of Tzu Chi elementary scholars volunteer to stay behind after their morning humanity class to present a number. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Leah and Rachel Awel sing “Love in the Sunshine,” a song played in DaAi TV’s special feature of Tzu Chi Philippines several years ago. The former conjoined twins have greatly benefitted from Tzu Chi’s help and continue to do so today.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Apart from the ang pao, attendees also received Jing Si goodie bags. These contain instant mixes, among others.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The Chua family prays with their fellow attendees for peace of mind, a harmonious society, and a disaster-free world. Parents Joyce and Tony (first two from left, respectively) brought their kids to the ceremony to educate them about Tzu Chi.【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】


  • LAST UPDATED: March 20, 2018 14:03 PM