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Relieved of suffering, surgery patient looks towards a new life of virtue

November 05, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Once bearing a mass the size of a mango, 25-year-old Michael Mahusay has his face back to normal after a successful surgery in Taiwan. With this chance given to him, he desires to start fresh and lead a virtuous life. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Michael Mahusay returned to the Philippines on October, the benign mass on his face was removed. The 19-hour surgery two months ago at Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital had been successful despite the difficulties which inspired him to turn over a new leaf.


After months in Taiwan, Michael Mahusay returns home with the mass on his face removed.

The 25-year-old from Cebu is greeted with a warm welcome by Tzu Chi volunteers upon arriving in Manila on October 18. He left for Taiwan in June to have his benign facial tumor removed at the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. While a scar on his face can be seen, he’s no longer burdened by the mass he carried throughout his adolescent life.

He also learned that his case was the hardest out of the many cases Taiwanese doctors had dealt with before. Done by a team of doctors from various fields, the entire operation in August lasted 19 hours. Nevertheless, Michael put up with the pain knowing that he has friends and family waiting for him back home.

“I bore the pain because I know God won’t leave my side. I also know that there are people who still love me, especially my family here and the Tzu Chi volunteers. They inspired me not to give up,” said Michael.

Tzu Chi volunteer Ting Ting Pua, who had been by Michael’s side from the start, prayed for the success of the surgery. Volunteers and even staff of the Jing Si Hall arranged their own prayer vigils later to show their solidarity. Soon, she witnessed three signs that told her that her prayer had been answered.

“First, it suddenly rained despite clear skies, although only for a while. After that, I heard the cry of a lizard, in which it’s a sign that your wish had been granted. A little later, a lone white dove flew in front of me. That’s when I was convinced that Michael is alright,” said Pua.

Along with wisdom from Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Michael was ready to turn over a new leaf. The life he had before he met Tzu Chi was marred with ill vices and bad company.



Coming from a broken family, Michael came to Manila seeking new opportunities. He was 12 years old when he started working for the Buenafe family in Tondo, who supplies food for peddlers to resell. More than his daily allowance, he received love and attention from his surrogate parents and his five surrogate siblings.

However, as his surrogate mother Maryfi narrates, he brought problems to the family when he often got into trouble with the law. He had been thrown in jail so many times that bailing him out had become routine. But the thought of leaving Michael behind bars never crossed her mind.

“As his [surrogate] mother, I don’t grow weary of my responsibility to him, even if we’re not related by blood. He has become a part of our family,” said Maryfi.

The successful surgery, for the once-troubled youth, is a second chance at life. He received his call to change for the better upon meeting Dharma Master Cheng Yen at the Jing Si Abode.

“The first time I saw Master [Cheng Yen], she seems like a goddess to me who was sent to this world to help those in need. I couldn’t really explain, but I just cried when I saw her. After all, she’s the reason many people have been helped,” Michael explained.

Since then, he vowed to be good by steering clear of ill vices and bad company. Having been enlightened on avoiding harming or killing animals, he wished to look for a job that doesn’t involve these practices. After Tzu Chi helped alleviate his suffering, he also want to return the favor as a volunteer in the future.

“This is a second chance at life, so I’m obligated to change my life for the better. I’ll set aside my past life and change by being a blessing to others,” he concluded.

  • Michael (right) and Tzu Chi volunteer Ting Ting Pua (left) meet for the first time after the surgery. Michael left for Taiwan in June to undergo surgery at the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Michael (center) with his brother (second from left) and Tzu Chi volunteers who welcomed his return. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • With one of his eyes affected by the benign mass, Michael wears glasses to correct his vision. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A lot of skin was required for the surgery. Michael shows the areas where the doctors derived the needed skin. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • To show his gratitude, Michael makes three Thank You cards. One is for Dharma Master Cheng Yen, another for the doctors of the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, and a third for the Filipino Tzu Chi volunteer who took care of him while in Taiwan. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Michael's cards are ready to be sent out to their intended recipients. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers pay a visit to the Buenafe household in Tondo, Manila, where Michael lives. The Buenafes took Michael in when he was 12 years old. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】