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Tacloban folks show gratitude in threefold event

May 14, 2017 | Jamaica Digo

Tacloban residents take part in the Buddha Bathing ceremony to pay tribute to the Buddha and show their gratitude to Tzu Chi Foundation. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi Foundation celebrated the Buddha’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and Tzu Chi’s 51st Global Anniversary on May 14 at the Tacloban Convention Center. 3,690 individuals from 24 barangays in Tacloban participated in the event.

  • Tzu Chi volunteers from Ormoc went to Tacloban to present a drum and bell performance of a verse from the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. Young volunteers from Ormoc also paid tribute to mothers by offering them flowers and massaging their backs.

  • Local volunteers of Tacloban City also get a chance to wash their mothers’ feet in a ceremony.

  • In celebrating Tzu Chi’s 51st anniversary, Tzu Chi Tacloban conducted a rice distribution, benefitting 3,690 poor families from across the city.


Tacloban locals demonstrate their gratitude to mothers, the Great Teacher of Buddhism and to Tzu Chi during the threefold celebration at the Tacloban Convention Center in Tacloban City on May 14.

At a Mother’s Day tribute, young volunteers from Tzu Chi’s housing village in Ormoc presented a Filipino lullaby called “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” for the mothers who participated in the celebration. Afterwards, the young volunteers offered flowers and gave the mothers a warm embrace.

64-year-old Marcelina Raquel was touched with the youth’s respect and love. “I don’t have my children around today so I feel happy that these children are here to make me feel loved on this day,” she says.

A washing of feet ceremony was also conducted where local Tzu Chi volunteers had an opportunity to humble themselves before their mothers. Five pairs of mothers and daughters participated in the ceremony.

Maria Bujawe, 64, was surprised when her daughters, Mariane Malinao and Josephine Bujawe, sat her down to wash her feet. She felt her daughters were too old to join in the ceremony but was grateful to have been part of it, nonetheless.

“’This is the first time that this has happened to me,” Maria says. “I am very happy that my children and I are here with me because we often don’t see each other. Sometimes one of them will be in Manila, or in Guiuan (Eastern Samar), and I’d be here in Tacloban. But today, we are here together.”

Apart from the two daughters, Maria has three more children.

For Josephine, it was a very special day. For the past years, she says, they never had a chance to show their mother how much they appreciate her.  Now mothers themselves, Josephine and Mariane understand Maria’s sacrifices better.

“We never celebrated Mother’s Day. This is the first time and we were able to wash her feet. It was while doing it that I realized our obligations toward our mother,” 39-year-old Josephine tearfully says. “As a daughter, it’s our duty to love and take care of our mother as long as she lives.”

Mariane, who came up with the idea of washing their mother’s feet on this day, says it was her way of humbling herself before her mother. In the past, she admits, she often raised her voice and argued with her mother. As a result, Mariane was not as close as her siblings were to their mother.

“Sometimes, we argue and misunderstand each other but in this simple way, I wish I can make it up to her. Whatever shortcomings and offenses I have done, I wanted to ask her forgiveness. I wanted her to feel how much I love her,” adds Mariane, 40.

Meanwhile, a distribution of 20-kilo sacks of Taiwan rice was how Tzu Chi Tacloban celebrated the organization’s 51st Global Anniversary. 3,690 poor families from across the city benefitted from the distribution.

79-year-old Elena Sanoria was among the recipients of the rice sacks. She could still remember how Tzu Chi helped them in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Despite her age, she joined in the cash-for-work program to clean up the city. Tzu Chi gave her daily cash allowance that helped her recover from the tragedy.

Today, receiving the sack of rice was another blessing from the Buddhist group as she only depends on the meagre income she gets from selling the vegetables she grow in her backyard.

“I have malunggay and other vegetables that I sell to the market so that I can buy half a kilo of rice. There are four of us who eat since my three grandchildren are temporarily living me,” says Elena. “Now that I received a sack of rice, I feel very happy because Tzu Chi has helped me once again. After Yolanda until today, Tzu Chi keeps on assisting us.”

All the rice beneficiaries were also given a chance to take part in the Buddha Bathing ceremony.

This was the second time Lumelyn Obeso and Rizza Labong have joined the Buddhist ritual. The residents of Barangay Sagkahan in Tacloban City diligently attended the rehearsals before the event.

“When Tzu Chi’s anniversary comes, although we all came from different religions, different races, and different places, everyone is almost here to celebrate the teachings we have learned from Master Cheng Yen and the goodness she has shown us especially after Typhoon Yolanda,” says Labong, 46. “More importantly, Master Chen Yen enlightened us to be compassionate towards our fellowmen.”

Obeso agreed. Although Catholic by faith, she respects the Buddha and believes in his teachings. Attending the event for the second year, she has only one prayer: that people should learn from the examples of the Buddha and Master Cheng Yen.

“I hope they will serve as examples to us to spread love; because if we have love, we will have peace in this world; there will be no more crimes and people will not do evil deeds, “ says the 38-year-old Obeso.

The celebration in Tacloban City is joined by 3,690 individuals.

  • A crowd gathers outside the Tacloban Convention Center early morning on May 14 to attend Tzu Chi Foundation's celebration of Buddha's Birthday, Mother's Day, and Tzu Chi's 51st Global Anniversary. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】`

  • As the participants enter the venue, they drop their plastic bottles, which contain their coin donations, into a jar.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi Philippines Deputy CEO Alfredo Li says the threefold event is paying tribute to three people: the Buddha, mothers, and Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi Tacloban local coordinator Jose Yu welcomes the participants to the event. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Rizza Labong (leftmost) attends the celebration for the second year to show her gratitude to Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen and pay her respect to the Buddha.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • After singing them a Filipino lullaby called, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” which tug at the heartstrings of the attendees, members of Tzu Chi Ormoc Youth offer flowers and massage the shoulders of the mothers.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • 64-year-old Marcelina Raquel shares that although her children are not around, she felt loved because of the young volunteers’ gesture.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • With their full reverence, children the wash the feet of their mothers during the Mother’s Day tribute.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • After washing her feet, a child gives her mother a bread as her way of repaying all the times that her mother had took care of her.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Maria Bujawe embraces her children, Tzu Chi volunteers Mariane Malinao (left) and Josephine Bujawe (right) after the Mother’s Day tribute.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers from Ormoc present a Drum and Bell performance of a verse from the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Using water containers and other recyclable materials as alternative for drums and bell, Tzu Chi volunteers from Ormoc present a verse from the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers lead the offering to start the Buddha Bathing ceremony.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Lumelyn Obeso (left) participates in the Buddha Bathing ceremony. She hopes that her fellow participants will learn from the teachings and the examples of the Buddha and Master Cheng Yen so that there will be peace in the world.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Local Tzu Chi volunteers in Tacloban join in the Buddha Bathing ceremony. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • 3,690 individuals participate in Tzu Chi Foundation’s Buddha Day, Mother’s Day, and Tzu Chi Day celebration in Tacloban City.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi Tacloban celebrated Tzu Chi’s 51st Global Anniversary by distributing sacks of 20-kilo Taiwan rice to the poorest families across the city. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • 79-year-old Elena Sanoria (right) is among the recipients of the rice distribution. The widow is grateful to Tzu Chi for its continuous assistance to the Tacloban’s poorest even years after Typhoon Yolanda. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】