On April 5, volunteers from Quezon City, Marikina City, and San Mateo in Rizal numbering to 20 went on a 34-hour journey by land to Leyte for the series of rice distributions to be conducted in the said province. Before embarking on the long voyage, the volunteers rose early to attend and listen to Tzu Chi’s founder Master Cheng Yen’s dharma talk.
From April 7 to 9, over 4,000 families from Ormoc City and the municipality of Kananga benefitted from the distributions of 20-kilo sacks of rice from Taiwan.
Tzu Chi Foundation held a series of rice distributions from April 7 to 9, benefitting over 4,000 families from six communities in Ormoc City and two Tzu Chi Great Love Villages in Kananga.
Apart from the locals of Ormoc and Tacloban City, Tzu Chi volunteers from Quezon City, Manila, Marikina City, and San Mateo in Rizal pitched in help during the activities.
Before embarking on a 34-hour journey by land to Leyte, 20 volunteers trooped to the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City to listen to Tzu Chi’s founder Master Cheng Yen expound on the teachings of the Buddha. The Master holds the talk every morning at Tzu Chi’s headquarters in Hualien, Taiwan. Volunteers from around the globe watch it live via videoconferencing.
For the Filipino volunteers from Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City, Marikina City, and San Mateo in Rizal, who were on their way to assist in the scheduled rice distribution in Ormoc and Kananga, listening to the Master’s talk before carrying out Tzu Chi’s mission was reinvigorating.
“It felt like she was right there beside me giving us her blessings so that we can accomplish our mission,” said 52-year-old Victoria Cutamora, a volunteer from Tatalon.
Before the volunteers boarded the bus to Leyte, Michael Siao thanked them for making time to attend the Master’s talk. However, he underscored that more important than listening to the teachings is putting them into practice.
“Going to Ormoc this time is a good opportunity to put our wisdom and love into action. Master needs us to serve the world and the needy – this is the bodhisattva (living saints) practice,” Siao added.
After suffering from the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, the province of Leyte faced several other natural calamities. In 2017 alone, the province was struck by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake and widespread flooding brought by Tropical Storm Urduja.
In the wake of these disasters, Tzu Chi volunteers were among the first to extend material aid and emotional support to the victims. The foundation also committed to distribute rice from Taiwan to the affected families. In March, the shipment of 13,000 sacks of 20-kilo Taiwan rice arrived in Ormoc. Shortly after this, preparations for the distributions began.
Amada Fumera feels deeply for the disaster victims that although she contracted pneumonia and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) early this year, she opted to volunteer for the rice distributions instead of stay home.
“I know that there will come a time when my body will fail me and I won’t be as strong as I am right now. But as long as my feet can carry me, I will continue to volunteer,” said the 59-year-old volunteer from Barangay Guitnang Bayan I in San Mateo.
Tzu Chi Philippines Deputy CEO Alfredo Li lauded the Filipino volunteers’ resolute spirit in serving. According to him, the rice distribution this time is anchored on one thing: “This is an act of love. The rice from Taiwan is love and when Tzu Chi gives it out to people especially the calamity victims – that’s also expressing our love to them,” ended Li.