Thursday, Apr 15

Earning ‘spiritual income’ by doing good deeds

March 30, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Under clear skies, camp participants assembled outside the Harmony hall for the opening ceremony. The English-language New Volunteers Training Camp attracted over 70 people from all over the country. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • The first English-language New Volunteers Training Camp was formally launched on March 30 at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus. It would offer non-Chinese aspirants the opportunity to learn more about Tzu Chi and be a step closer to becoming volunteers. Seventy-five participants attended the three-day event.


Following the success of its Chinese Training Camp, Tzu Chi launched its first English-language New Volunteers Training Camp on March 30 for the benefit of more aspiring English-speaking volunteers.

Held at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus’s Harmony Hall, the three-day camp aims to help non-Chinese speakers know more about the Buddhist organization to bring them one step closer to becoming volunteers. The 75 participants listened to the wisdom of volunteers and ardent followers of the Tzu Chi philosophy.

Among the keynote speakers is Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr., founder of architectural firm Palafox Associates. Palafox has been faithful to Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teachings since his first projects with Tzu Chi. These include rebuilding schools destroyed by the earthquake in Bam, Iran in 2003.

More than just making income as a business, Palafox devotes resources to making “spiritual income” by engaging in humanitarian works. He believes that this kind of income is essential in making the country proud.

“In a little way, we can help our country, injecting more spirituality and patriotism. As I said, our country has high development potential. We have so much God-given resources, yet we're not properly exploiting these resources for the benefit of all Filipinos, not just wealthy Filipinos,” he explained.

He’s also devoted time to writing down all that he has learned to pass on to the next generation. But even in the afterlife, he says he’ll still remain faithful to the Master’s teachings.

“I've been telling people that I'd like to live to a hundred years old and retire twenty years after I die. I write down all the lessons I've learned for others to follow, not just architectural lessons but also lessons we learned from the Master,” Palafox added.

Among those following in his footsteps is one of his staff, Angela Loreno. Inspired by the 21-day vegetarian campaign Tzu Chi holds every August (in which Palafox Associates is a supporter), she joined the camp.

“Today, on the second day, I learned about compassion, giving wholeheartedly without asking for anything in return. They say that's universal, but it's only now that I fully understand it,” said Loreno.


A scar Tzu Chi healed

Many participants hail from outside Metro Manila, like mother and daughter Ciryl and Vhay Deimos from Agusan Del Sur. They shared their lifesaving story with their fellow participants.

In September 2016, Vhay and two of her classmates went to a field study, as required by her bachelor’s degree in Education. They were heading for their destination in a motorcycle when the driver lost control. Vhay at the rear was thrown out of the motorcycle, her face slamming against the pavement.

Her mother Ciryl described the grotesque outcome. Vhay’s left eyeball had all but fallen out of its shattered socket. Part of her brain was leaking out, prompting her to seek medical attention for her daughter. But out of the eleven doctors she sought, not one of them agreed to treat her because of the risk.

“When I sought help at Tzu Chi, they arranged for a doctor in Manila right away. It was Dr. Frederick Leh [TIMA surgeon] who accepted her case with a smile. He told me not to cry anymore and pray instead, which was a relief to hear. He offered a "special metal" for the surgery, which he gave away for free,” Ciryl narrated.

Today, only a scar remains from Vhay’s mangled face. Tzu Chi has inspired not only mother and daughter, but also their entire family to support the foundation.

“I've seen how the volunteers engaged in their work, not just in the tangibles but also intangibles like emotion. How they give emphasis on one's life and how they'll leave an impact on the lives they've helped,” Vhay said.

  • The opening ceremony starts off with a drum performance by students of Tzu Chi’s Livelihood Training Program. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Among the keynote speakers for the camp is Architect Jun Palafox, who has been offering his expertise to Tzu Chi in helping rebuild disaster areas. He talks about Great Love knowing no differences in religion, race, or nationality. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Palafox shows one of his projects. He redesigned this school in Nepal to better withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters in the future. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Edward So’s session talks about the beginnings of Tzu Chi. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Participants are divided into groups and given questions to discuss with each other and share with other groups afterwards. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Each group received a unique question, and it’s up to the participants to discuss among themselves on how to answer these questions. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Vhay Deimos (left) and her mother Ciryl came from Agusan Del Sur to attend the training camp. After a freak accident in 2016 that disfigured a large portion of Vhay’s face, Tzu Chi had her undergo surgery in Manila. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】