Monday, Apr 19

Life-changing accounts from new volunteers

April 07, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Upon learning of the plight of Tropical Cyclone Idai victims in southeastern Africa, Filipino and Chinese Tzu Chi volunteers line up to share what they can to support the ongoing relief efforts. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • During the monthly Diligence Seminar at Jing Si Hall, new volunteers share their stories of inspiration and transformation. As some change the way they live life, others change the way they look at it.


Would-be Machine Operation Course student Ronnel Abrasia was called to the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus’s office one day. He recalls being summoned because of a concern about the results of his medical exam. He was found to have scoliosis.

As the course entails plenty of lifting, having scoliosis would disqualify him from the program he and so many others stake their futures on. But he was not disappointed.

“I said I’ll just seize any chance I can get, adding that I’ll still pursue being a Tzu Chi volunteer regardless,” Abrasia said.

At the suggestion of the office, he had a second opinion and to his relief, the second doctor gave him a clean bill of health.

“That’s when I knew that Master [Cheng Yen] may just be testing my commitment, to see how determined I was,” Abrasia said.

The 21-year-old was touched by what the foundation stands for when he enrolled in the  of the Livelihood Training Program (LTP), he joined the growing family of local Tzu Chi volunteers and is currently an apprentice for Faith Corps training. He shared his inspiring story before his fellow Filipino volunteers during the monthly Diligence Seminar at the Jing Si Hall.

He shared that if there’s one thing in him that has changed since entering Tzu Chi, it’s learning to “find the hidden blessing” in each day that passes.

“Every morning, when I wake up, I express my gratitude for the new morning and the chance to appreciate the little blessings to come to me today,” he narrated.

Roma Fe Mabanag, an apprentice Commissioner, teaches English in the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) course of the LTP every Tuesday. Being no stranger to volunteerism, she finds happiness in seeing her hard work bear fruit.

“The students learn a lot from you, that’s why no matter how tired you are, you are still driven to continue teaching them,” said Mabanag, who is also taking up Physical Therapy at Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila on top of her volunteer work.


Seeking truth

Arby Ting and Andrew Navarro walk down the path of volunteerism for a more profound reason. They’re members of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines, a non-sectarian organization that seeks truth not bound by any religious, social, or political limitations. They learn about Tzu Chi Foundation when Tzu Chi volunteers talked in their forum last September 30 in their headquarters in Quezon City.

Ting, a businessman, realized that he can be a volunteer and carry on with his family business at the same time. In fact, he sees being a businessman as some sort of dharma.

“My being a businessman is sort of a dharma. It was given to me by birth because my parents were very strong business people and they expect me to run the family business,” Ting shared.

The search for the universal truth as their Society promotes can go beyond a lifetime. Neither of the two consider joining Tzu Chi to be the end of their search, but it does draw them closer to such truth.

“Truth can be found in all religions if you’re that sincere in seeking the truth. I saw in Tzu Chi its focus on helping humanity and helping everyone,” Navarro said.

“They made me realized that one is not different from others; despite differing in nationalities and such, the wisdom of seeing yourself in others is there,” Navarro added.

  • Hundreds of Tzu Chi volunteers gathered at Jing Si Hall on April 7 for the monthly Diligence Seminar. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Roma Fe Mabanag holds a photo of her group during the three-day New Volunteers Training Camp. She volunteers every Tuesday in the Livelihood Training Program as an English instructor for the BPO course. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The Chinese session is held simultaneously at the Jing Si Hall lobby. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Arby Ting and Andrew Navarro, members of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines, became Tzu Chi volunteers in hopes of getting one step closer to realizing the universal truth. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Ronnel Abrasia – a Machine Operation Course student, takes his involvement in Tzu Chi one step further by becoming an apprentice Faith Corps. He believes that Master Cheng Yen is testing his commitment every step of the way. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Chinese volunteers explain the Water Repentance Text and its significance during a joint session with their Filipino counterparts. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Carla Cheng described the situation in southeastern African countries- Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe which was devastated by Tropical Cyclone Idai that left as many as 1,000 dead. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • At the end of the program, the volunteers solemnly pray for peace of mind, a peaceful society, and a disaster-free world. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】