Thursday, Apr 15

Eco-friendly three-in-one in the works

May 10, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

For this year’s three-in-one celebration, the volunteers of the Great Love City plan to use whatever’s available around them. This length of bamboo, harvested from a creek near the village, will be turned into ornate water bowls for the Buddha bathing ceremony. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Local volunteers of Ormoc’s Great Love City take advantage of nature’s abundance all around them to create the props for its upcoming three-in-one event on May 13. Copra bowls and bamboo trays will adorn the ceremonial altars as a way for the people to show their love to the world.


Handmade copra bowls and bamboo trays are expected to adorn the Ormoc Great Love City’s three-in-one celebration on May 13.

In an effort to uphold the conservational spirit Tzu Chi advocates, local volunteers have decided to make the most out of the resources available nearby. Tzu Chi’s community of former typhoon victims in Ormoc City, Leyte can count on its abundance of coconut trees and bamboo around it to create the necessary embellishments.

The responsibility of gathering the raw materials falls in the hands of local Tzu Chi volunteer Benjie Mingao. He and his fellow volunteers only have a few days to make enough bamboo trays that will hold the scented water to be used for the Buddha bathing ceremony during the event. Filled with a sense of purpose, Mingao gets to work. Each section of the bamboo produces two trays, with spare pieces forming the base. Like many in the village, the three-in-one celebration means a lot to him.

“Buddha Day is important to me. I’m among the recipients of housing. I am happy for the blessing from Master Cheng Yen,” Mingao narrates.

He was also tasked with getting enough copra to make the bowls. Then, local volunteer May Entero and her team get to work splitting the shells open and sanding them. The bowls will hold the flowers the participants will get after the bathing ceremony.

The bowls add a Filipino touch to a Chinese tradition.

“We made these so that [the three-in-one event] can be unique this year. Apart from the fact that the Philippines is abundant in coconut, this is also nature’s blessings to us,” Entero says.

With over 2,000 households, the Great Love City is the heart of Tzu Chi’s charitable work in Ormoc. In their time of great need, these households were granted the means of starting a new life after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed their old ones. After celebrating their first three-in-one event two years ago, the locals make sure that they have something new to show to the world. They feel it’s the least they can do for all the blessings they’ve received following Yolanda.

“We thought about using recycled [and local] materials so that we don’t have to spend on props. These can still be used again next year, and the year after that, instead of thrown away,” says local volunteer Juanito Suco, the brains behind the eco-friendly endeavor.

Suco is in charge of making the props for the skit he and his fellows will perform on the big day. Instead of going to the local school supplies store, he searched the Great Love City’s recycling storage for materials.

After four days of planning and painstaking work, he erected his piece de resistance: a “Gate of Hell.” The support is made largely out of cardboard tubes that once held rolls of tarpaulin. More cardboard forms the façade of the doorway. Screws from salvaged electronics hold the entire set together. The mask above the doorway is from a friend who lent it to Suco for this occasion.

The experience not only teaches him about recycling. It also teaches about saving to help other people in need.

“Tzu Chi has taught us to make the most out of reusable items so that we don’t have to spend on buying new ones. This way, we can save and set aside cash to help the needy in terms of medicine or education,” Suco adds.

Ormoc’s three-in-one celebration will be held on the same day as the celebration at Quezon City.

  • To get to the bamboo, volunteers have to cross this rice field. Volunteers say this is the more accessible spot, as their usual source of bamboo requires them to cross a river far from the village. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Local volunteer Benjie Mingao shows no fear picking coconuts around 50 feet from the ground. He says he has been doing it even before moving to Ormoc. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Mingao cuts open a fresh section of bamboo. One section will make two of the water bowls needed for the Buddha bathing ceremony. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Pieces of bamboo are nailed at the base of the bowls for support. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Local volunteers put the centerpiece of their play onstage during rehearsals. The props are 100-percent made out of recycled materials from the Great Love City’s storage. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Once holding a roll of tarpaulin, this cardboard tube will serve the volunteers well as a support beam for the play’s props. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A friend of Suco lent the monstrous mask to add to the Gate of Hell. Since the mask lacked eyes, Suco improvised by stapling a pair inside. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Local volunteer May Entero has the painstaking job of making copra into bowls. As the procedure demands precision, she cannot cut through the shell with a machete. Instead, she takes her time with a saw blade. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】