In January 2012, Eleanor Bucad was approached with an intriguing proposition: the chance to help people improve their lives with just one peso a day. That’s what Tzu Chi Foundation donation volunteer Naresa Gelarzo told her as she was collecting pledges from donors in her community of Gulod Malaya, San Mateo, Rizal.
Truth be told, Bucad could use some help herself. The 63-year-old homemaker is married to a Person with Disability, a man afflicted with polio in his youth. This condition leaves him with limited work options to support his wife and their six children.
Still, Bucad was not only encouraged to give a peso daily, she eventually became a donation volunteer too. Starting with 45 donors, she now has over 200 from the communities of Guitnang Bayan 2, Lambak, Old Cockpit, and Riza Subdivision. “I didn’t have to think twice,” she says. “The desire to help is really in my heart.”
According to this donation volunteer, one of six in San Mateo, Rizal, it takes four days to collect donations from each and every one of her donors. The next two days are spent counting the pledges before the amount is remitted to Tzu Chi Foundation volunteer Woon Ng on the last Saturday of the month.
To skeptics who question her motives for collecting, Bucad simply tells them it’s for those who were victims of disasters. It’s explanation enough for people who have been beneficiaries of Tzu Chi Foundation’s unceasing generosity and assistance countless times over. Although Bucad and her family were spared from the fury of Typhoon Ulysses in November 2020, most of San Mateo was not, and like neighboring Marikina City, it too was submerged in muddy floodwaters that reached the roofs of many homes.
Just like Ulysses and the typhoons before it, volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation were on the scene to help despondent residents put their lives back in order through massive cleanup drives and “Cash for Work” programs.
The Tzu Chi Foundation was also there to distribute relief goods to San Mateo and other communities whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic and months of lockdown in 2020. In her community of Gulod Malaya, Bucad was among those who received rice as well as a P1,500 grocery gift certificate.
Though the job of donation volunteer is a demanding one—imagine exposing yourself to the elements as you go from house to house, then being accountable for all the pledges you collect—Bucad enjoys the task. “I never tire of it,” avers this training commissioner. “Especially when I’m in the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus in Sta. Mesa, listening to the talks of Master Cheng Yen, I feel good.”
Ultimately, Bucad’s volunteerism is her life’s mission, one that she confirmed during a seminar on the teachings of the Dharma Master. “Do good,” she recites of her favorite aphorism. “Life is short and we have to spend it doing good things.”
Photos By: Matt Serrano