Wednesday, Mar 21

Compassion’s role in a rapidly-changing world

November 30, 2017 | JONAS TRINIDAD

Tzu Chi Philippines deputy-CEO Alfredo Li (left) accepts the bamboo coin bank from TIMA dentist Maria Madonna Mariquit (right). The intricate art in the coin bank is made by Mariquit’s children, who urged her to donate the bank’s contents to Tzu Chi. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • As the 229th Medical Mission in San Mateo, Rizal is ongoing, Tzu Chi volunteers took the opportunity to urge people to share their blessings with others, however small. They highlight the importance of paying forward blessings to help propagate compassion, a much-needed resource in a rapidly-changing world.


Hurricane Harvey. Earthquake in central Mexico. Wildfires in California.

The year 2017 is rank with natural disasters left and right. Devastation is widespread, survivors struggle to recover, and relief efforts meet severe odds. In the United States alone, the number of natural disasters that have cost over $1 billion in damage has been on the rise, says a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As these disasters intensify in the coming years, the victim count—casualty or affected—is expected to rise.

In light of this, many charity organizations double their efforts to bring relief to the victims of these changing times. For Tzu Chi, this means inspiring more people to share their blessings with the less fortunate.

As the 229th Medical Mission on November 30 is underway, Tzu Chi volunteers share their insights on the changing world to the patients waiting for their turn. They urge the audience to share what little they can for the benefit of the many suffering from circumstances beyond their control. That is to say donations must not be seen as payment for the free medical service they’ll get. Let alone they must donate a large sum.

“We always cultivate the habit of saving up on our coin banks to help teach the virtue of doing good every day. Tzu Chi isn’t asking for anything in return,” Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao speaks before the assembly of patients.

“You don’t have to give a great deal of money. You only need a big heart. Let’s be one big community and pool our love,” Siao adds.

It brings relief to volunteers to know that their efforts in inspiring others aren’t in vain. The town of San Mateo is, in itself, proof of such. Following the flooding left by monsoon rains in 2012, Tzu Chi helped the low-lying municipality back on its feet. The people they helped, most of them now proudly serving as Tzu Chi volunteers, have never forgotten and never will. Five years later, the stream of compassion continues to flow into the town in various forms, among which is the medical mission.

The affinity even extends to the local government, which has recognized Tzu Chi as an indispensable factor in the overall welfare of San Mateo. In fact, aid from Taiwan comes directly to the town in the form of anti-tuberculosis medication, part of an agreement ratified almost two years ago. Ask a local today about Tzu Chi and he or she may know a thing or two.

More proof of affinity can be found beyond San Mateo’s borders. To the north, a small grateful community exists in the town of Rodriguez (Montalban). Carmencita Fortes, 64-years-old, leads her group of 20 donors to personally turn over Php600 worth of donations to Tzu Chi volunteers. In keeping with Master Cheng Yen’s philosophy of doing good deeds every day, they make it a habit to fill their coin banks every day, however small the amount.

“There are 20 of us here today, all from Montalban, Rizal. We went here to turn over our donation. We even paid for our own transport. We have 100 donors in our community,” says Fortes.

“It fills us with joy just helping others,” she adds.

At the urging of her children, TIMA dentist Maria Madonna Mariquit turns over a bamboo coin bank heavy with coins to Tzu Chi volunteers. She got the coin bank from an outreach program with colleagues in Porac, Pampanga. She intended to turn over the bank on Christmas, but her children wanted to see the family’s love in Tzu Chi’s hands as soon as possible.

“For three to four months, my children kept telling me to give it to Tzu Chi. I was originally going to give it on Christmas Day, but I told my son that I would give it today. They were so happy,” narrates Mariquit.

Tzu Chi volunteer Libertad Padillo has high hopes for every activity Tzu Chi holds in a grateful community like San Mateo. If people like Fortes can cultivate blessings and share them with others, so can her fellowmen.

“The time will come when those we helped will pay forward by helping others. That’s what [Flores’s group of donors] has learned, which is why they’re eager to support Tzu Chi Foundation,” Padillo remarks.

  • Some patients during the 229th Medical Mission came forward with their share of blessings for the benefit of the less fortunate. Tzu Chi volunteers humbly accept whatever share of blessings comes their way. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Children are taught to share their blessings now so that they can make a habit out of it as they enter their later years. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • All the way from Rodriguez (Montalban), Carmencita Fortes (left) turns over Php600 worth of donations to Tzu Chi Philippines deputy-CEO Alfredo Li (right). The donations are gathered from 20 donors in her community, all equally grateful for Tzu Chi’s help. 【Photo by Caroline Uy】

  • LAST UPDATED: February 22, 2018 11:02 AM