First volunteers of Tzu Chi PH reminisce in a tea gathering held at Jing Si Hall October 20.
The pioneers of Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines took a ride down memory lane in a tea gathering held in their honor at Jing Si Hall last Saturday.
“Today’s event is about showing respect and gratitude to our elderly, who are our pioneers during the start of Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines,” said Carmen Sy, one of the volunteers.
The gathering was attended by 60 elderly guests, mostly around the age of 70 to 80, and 60 volunteers. It provided various activities for the senior citizens including a yoga session, parlor games, and an audio visual presentation of the early years of the foundation.
Although she was disappointed that many were unable to attend, Sy was still hopeful that the event would inspire the older volunteers as well as the younger ones to carry on the mission of Tzu Chi.
One of the guests was Mrs. Rosario Jacinto, who helped establish Tzu Chi in the Philippines in 1994. In an interview, she recounts the times she volunteered with Tzu Chi, serving as a nurse in medical missions and operations.
“We were so happy at the time. We were young; we were energetic. But now that we are old, we cannot do as much as we did before,” she said.
Jacinto also remembers the time they brought the foundation into the country. “We wanted to help the sick and the poor, because that is Tzu Chi’s mission – so we brought together doctors and volunteers, and we asked for donations.”
Aside from the elderly volunteers, their children and grandchildren also attended the event in order to spend time with them.
“It really helps us remember that all of our grandparents are blessings, that we’re so lucky grateful to have them in our lives,” said Minette Sy Chan, grandchild of Ang Siong Ngo.
Chan’s grandmother served in medical missions during Tzu Chi Philippines’ early years. Now, Ang Siong Ngo still helps Tzu Chi by recycling and donating its proceeds to the foundation.
Sy said that volunteers who can’t perform their duties due to old age can still serve as an inspiration to the younger volunteers. “Master Cheng Yen does not require us to work beyond our means but what’s important for Master is our inner self and our willingness to inspire people.”
The event also celebrated birthdays of the guests and held an age bank depository for the elders. The age bank was initiated by Master Cheng Yen, where old volunteers deposit 50 years of their age to the bank in order to feel youthful again and continue to “walk the Bodhisattva Path with the spirit of a younger person,” as instructed by Master Cheng Yen.
Sy noted: “The age bank generates positive energy, when we deposit 50 years of our age to the age bank, we feel young and energetic to move on.”