A contingent of around 40 Tzu Chi scholars from Bohol arrived in Ormoc on May 11 to participate in the three-in-one celebration. Seeing their friends from across the sea once more, the eager youths of the Great Love City offered them to spend a few nights at their homes.
The next day, 40 new youths are formally invested in the Ormoc Youth volunteer group. This brings their total number to around 100.
Most households of the Ormoc Great Love City barely manage to get by with the resources they have. A small variety store feeds a family of five, or perhaps a door-to-door laundry service pays for the education of just one child. Leading simple lives, the households may not seem able to spare anything for guests.
But the villagers don’t let hardship get in the way of offering genuine hospitality. They don’t mind giving up their bedroom to their guests for a night or two, bearing the cold pavement if they have to. They won’t hesitate to share whatever they have stocked in the pantry. And the best part of it is that they’re happy to do so again and again.
One such story involves two youths who share the same name.
On May 11, a contingent of around 40 Tzu Chi scholars from Bohol arrived in Ormoc to join the three-in-one celebration. Just a few months ago, it had been the Ormoc Youth volunteers who went to Bohol for an educational tour. So the excitement of the youths was somewhat justified.
Lodging for the Bohol contingent means one thing for the Great Love villagers. They would have to “adopt” one or two of the Boholanos to stay with them until the end of the three-in-one event. Ariel Flores, in this case, invited Ariel Bargat and one more scholar to spend the night at his flat. His room could fit two people, so he urged them to use it while he slept on the living room.
“They’re special to me. I’m happy that they’ll be sleeping in such a comfortable room. I’m okay with giving up my room because they’re my esteemed guests,” says Flores.
Not once did Bargat see or hear Flores complain about sleeping on the living room floor. The experience taught him the joy of leading a simple life.
“They’re happy even if they have to sleep on the floor. When we wake up in the morning, we don’t see or feel that they detest us for being here. We really felt welcome in their place,” says Bargat.
The rest of the Bohol contingent received the same treatment from willing households.
The youths also took this opportunity to expand their numbers with the investiture of about 40 new Ormoc Youth volunteers.
Founded in 2017, the Ormoc Youth is a group of around 100 youths ages 13 to 25. Like their formal Tzu Ching counterparts, the Ormoc Youth also learn about Tzu Chi’s philosophies via humanity sessions and participate in various activities at the Great Love City. Some of them are receiving support from Tzu Chi in terms of scholarships.
Sisters Shyla Mae and Mhelgie Aseo are among the newest additions to the growing group. Their new light blue shirts are proof of their investiture, as well as the responsibilities that lay ahead as Ormoc Youth.
“We promise to fulfill our duties to be able to bring happiness to others. [The uniform] is a sign that we’re officially youth volunteers of Ormoc [Great Love City],” says Mhelgie.