Under the relentless heat and even sudden rain, Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila and Ormoc pulled together for three days to get ready for the three-in-one celebration on May 13. Not one backed out of the inclement weather, instead proceeding to fulfill his or her responsibilities with gusto.
A new venue just outside the Great Love City is prepared with haste in time for the three-in-one celebration of Buddha Day, Mother’s Day, and Tzu Chi Day on May 13.
Through the help of the city government of Ormoc, a grassy plot of land 33 meters by 40 meters is cleared and graded. Whereas the first three-in-one was held at the circular plaza inside the Great Love City, this year’s venue is close to the main road for easy access. The government provided the excavator to move tons of earth, while the family of former mayor Edward Codilla provided other heavy equipment.
An estimated 3,000 people, including those who will make up the formation, are expected to celebrate with Tzu Chi this year. Buddha Day marks the birthday of Gautama Buddha, Mother’s Day celebrates all mothers of the world, and Tzu Chi Day marks the foundation’s 52nd founding anniversary.
It’s held every second Sunday of May.
This year’s human formation will feature two blocks instead of one. Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao, overall coordinator for Ormoc’s three-in-one, says the formation had to account for the increase in the number of participants. After Tzu Chi raced to the aid of these people following the flooding brought about by Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-Tak) last December, the residents became inspired.
“Even if it was Christmas season, Tzu Chi volunteers went and gave aid to these people. In turn, they saw the sincerity of the volunteers and inspired goodness among them. At the time, we’re already sharing to them the concept of becoming donors and volunteers,” says Siao.
Supplementing the ranks of Ormoc’s volunteers are 30 volunteers from Manila. On the night of May 8, they made the 30-hour journey by bus and ferry to help with the preparations.
Precision is key in a beautiful human formation. The volunteers take every step in making sure the floor markers are exactly where they need to be.
Siao had hoped to finish installing the floor markers before 10:00 a.m., before the hotter part of morning. However, a miscalculation at the measuring lines used has the volunteers work until lunch, fighting the unforgiving weather. Despite having planned three-in-one events for seven years, Siao admits that old problems continue to make mischief.
“It ate up a lot of time, and we’re worried because the sun is high and it’s really hot. Still, we’re grateful because the people have been cooperative and willing to come together to resolve these issues,” Siao explains.
At 4:00 p.m., the time of the rehearsal, two days of sweltering heat gave way to a brief but heavy downpour. Some participants raced for shelter under the tables that are to be altars during the event. Others scattered to seek other means of cover. The entire venue turned into a muddy quagmire in a matter of minutes.
But nobody went home early, to the volunteers’ delight.
“I’m happy to be part of the program,” says Raul Cabal, a tricycle driver from Barangay Cogon, Ormoc City.
Weather is the only factor the volunteers cannot control. That’s why they’re resolute to carry on with the event, rain or shine, trusting that the participants will pull through.
“We are determined, rain or shine, to continue with the Buddha Day program,” says Tzu Chi Philippines deputy-CEO Alfredo Li under the rain.