Thursday, Apr 15

Facing challenges with a sincere heart

September 07, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Tzu Chi volunteer Chen Chieh-ying (middle) plays the role of the mischievous fairy that resembles unwholesome action, as she had portrayed in the past. She’s training the local actors for the upcoming stage adaptation next year. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Most of the script of the Water Repentance Text stage adaptation will have a local cast. Some admit that this is their first time doing it in a while, but their sincerity will help them clear the hurdles more easily.


It’s been several years since Tzu Chi volunteer Teodulo Granada took to the stage. The last one was in 2013 in Antipolo City, during Tzu Chi Philippines’ performance of two parts of the Water Repentance Text adaptation. In “The Bottomless Pit of Desire,” he played the role of a businessman whose endless desire for wealth and power resulted in his downfall.

The upcoming adaptation in 2020, however, will have a bigger audience. Volunteers from Marikina City would see Teody in more roles than what he did six years ago. Nevertheless, his experience and—more importantly—a sincere heart would do him well.

“[My fellow actors and I] can do it if we just take the wisdom to heart. I’ve done this before and I can do it again, especially with support from instructors from Taiwan,” said Granada.

The production team from Taiwan arrived in Manila for a three-day audition and training with the local cast. While some Taiwan volunteers would reprise their roles, local talent would play the majority of the roles including the acrobatic performers.

Among the performers is Tzu Chi volunteer Spencer Sze, who volunteered for the role that was a challenge to himself. His last performance was mostly sign language at the inauguration of the Jing Si Hall in 2009, during an adaptation of the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. In the upcoming adaptation, he would see himself move his entire body, not just his hands.

“As an old Chinese phrase goes: ‘if you do things with the heart, you won’t injure yourself,” said Sze, who also volunteered to play the drums during the adaptation.

It wasn’t just the participants facing challenges, as the instructors struggled to overcome the complication posed by the language barrier. Tzu Chi volunteer Chen Chieh-ying is tasked with guiding the local actors, but she didn’t anticipate that her messages had to be conveyed aside from Mandarin. Aside from English and Tagalog, the Filipino-Chinese volunteers usually speak in the Hokkien dialect.

Yet, she didn’t need to understand Filipino to admire the participants’ willingness to learn.

“We only practiced for half-a-day, and we were able to finish one script,” said Chen, who played a mischievous fairy in the “The Four Evil Karmas of Speech” in all the three countries that featured the “Water Repentance” adaptation.

Among the participants, their resolve to repent for their wrongdoings in the Water Repentance Text is rivaled by the sincerity in their hearts. Whether or not they have done the roles they volunteered for before, a sincere heart can help them overcome any difficulty.

  • Sign language practice resumes on the second day of the Water Repentance Text adaptation. All attention is on their instructor from Taiwan. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Spencer Sze (in green) performs more exercises under the guidance of the acrobatic instructors. He wished to challenge himself by joining the performance as a dancer. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • During the rehearsals, several Dharma Masters from China and their entourage came to watch. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Rehearsals continue unabated in the Jing Si auditorium. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • At the Harmony Hall’s prayer room, drummers beat to the rhythm of their instructor. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】