As part of Tzu Chi Foundation’s observance of the Auspicious Month, it prepares over 900 boxed lunch meals to the participants of the 21-day vegetarian lunch campaign. While most have been participating since the previous year, more join at the encouragement of friends.
One of these new participants is the Placido del Mundo Elementary School in Novaliches, Quezon City.
Principal Virginia Calosing hopes to promote the various principles of Tzu Chi among the students and staff that she oversees as its head.
“When Tzu Chi volunteers came here to promote recycling, we invited the local student council so that they can learn first-hand about the different Tzu Chi values from visiting Tzu Chi volunteers. We also want to invite them, as well as their parents, so that they can learn about the different programs,” she shares.
In Calosing’s second year as principal, Tzu Chi has set up a recycling station in the school that operates every other Saturday. The recycling volunteers assigned to the school alternate between the new location and Pasong Tamo Elementary School, where Calosing served as principal two years ago.
“I also want to slowly but surely implement vegetarianism here in the school. I’ve communicated with our feeding program teacher, and would eventually be going over what we can slowly but surely implement so that the students will start living healthier and not only eat vegetables, but also encourage them to grow their own vegetables as well,” she adds.
She has encouraged participation among her employees for the 21-day vegetarian lunch campaign. Among the teachers who signed up for the program is Cindy Solis, who teaches Science for Grade-6 students.
“I learned about Tzu Chi due to the vegetarian lunch meal campaign, as well as the efforts to help spread recycling awareness. I became interested in these two particular campaigns because I am a science teacher, and I know the importance of recycling. I have encouraged my students to use recyclable materials with their projects,” Solis shares.
At the same time, she is encouraging her students to gather up what spare change they can find. No matter how small, the amount pooled together can help out those in need.
“When I learned that Tzu Chi has a similar program (of saving up coins to help out those in need), we decided to put all the gathered coins in there as a donation instead. Another good thing is that the students know where the money will be going, that’s why they also learn the importance of sharing,” she adds.
Tzu Chi volunteer Woon Ng played a part in encouraging the faculty to participate during the 21-day campaign.
“Not only do we have Principal Calosing promoting and advocating the various missions of Tzu Chi Foundation to the members of Placido del Mundo Elementary School, her own participation and involvement with Tzu Chi (back when she was the principal of the Old Balara Elementary School and Pasong Tamo Elementary School) has given her the knowledge and wisdom to be able to share Tzu Chi’s advocacies to new people,” Ng says.
Promoting healthy eating
While most of the participants are teachers, several students choose to take part in the campaign.
There are days when Grade-6 student Ryan Calimag brings packed lunch to school. At some days, he receives allowance to buy food. Upon trying the vegetarian packed lunch, he immediately says that it is delicious.
“The benefits you get from eating fruits and vegetables can really help, especially with growing children like us,” he says, adding that eating vegetarian has healthy benefits.
Fellow Grade-6 student Shane Manuel shares Calimag’s sentiments about vegetables being good for young children like them. Her curiosity drove her to try the vegetarian meal.
“I wanted to try eating the packed lunch, because I was curious to know how it tasted. I also want to keep my body healthy and free from sickness,” Manuel shares.
Among the dishes, the stewed vegetables with shredded egg and chili pepper became a hit among the students, along with vegetarian ham slices atop a bed of chopped cabbage. They called the stewed vegetables laing, as it matches its appearancedespite not being cooked in coconut milk.
For Grade-6 student Isabella Macalinao, her reasons for eating vegetarian are personal.
“I’m afraid of getting heart disease. Most of the members of my family seems to get sick because of that. It makes me sad when I think about it, because I recently lost my grandfather to stroke. That’s why I can’t risk eating meat and unhealthy fat, which is why I want to eat vegetables,” she shares.
Just like her fellow classmates, Macalinao picked the laing as her favorite.
“Some students like eating vegetables, and yes, this program (of eating one vegetarian meal a day) can encourage them to eat healthier,” she adds.
Grade-5 student Precious Villanueva emphasizes the need to eat vegetables as important in staying healthy.
“I can avoid eating meat, because whenever animals are killed, they can spread germs and can be a cause of us getting sick as compared to eating vegetables,” she says.
Before the start of the packing of the vegetarian boxed lunches, Tzu Chi volunteer Woon Ng gives some reminders to the participating volunteers. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Tzu Chi volunteers are hard at work, assembling the vegetarian packed lunch for the day. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
The vegetarian boxed meal for the day consists of: a side dish of stewed vegetables seasoned with egg and chillies, pickled ginger, a siding of radishes, along with a slice of vegetarian ham atop a bed of chopped cabbage. A scoop of rice completes the assembled meal. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Tzu Chi volunteer Woon Ng is busy at the assembly line, placing the slice of vegetarian ham atop the bed of chopped cabbage before the boxed meal moves further down the assembly area. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Local Tzu Chi volunteers wheel out the orders for the adopted schools: Old Balara Elementary School and Pasong Tamo Elementary School. A new location, Placido del Mundo Elementary School, will be participating for the first time this year. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Overseen by Tzu Chi volunteer Molita Chua, the orders for the three schools are loaded into the delivery van. The designated pick up point for the three schools is the Old Balara Elementary School. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Upon arriving at the Old Balara Elementary School, local Tzu Chi volunteers who are assigned to the area quickly unload the orders to take them to the designated pick-up point. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Tzu Chi volunteer Molita Chua, who oversees the Old Balara Elementary School and Pasong Tamo Elementary School area, speaks with local Tzu Chi volunteers who are in charge of releasing the boxed lunches to their respective recipients. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
A faculty member of the Old Balara Elementary School picks up their boxed lunch from a Tzu Chi volunteer with a humble gesture. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Local Tzu Chi volunteers assist with loading the orders of the Placido del Mundo Elementary School into the school’s vehicle before setting off. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Upon arrival at the Placido del Mundo Elementary School, nearby students assist the officials in unloading the school’s orders of packed lunches so that they can begin distribution. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Among the student population, Grade 6 students Ryan Calimag (left) and Isabella Macalinao (right) are among the students who chose to purchase a packed vegetarian lunch. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Along with her classmates, Grade-6 student Shane Manuel also opted to order a vegetarian packed meal. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Teacher Cindy Solis explains to her students the importance of saving up a little amount everyday, and no matter how small the donation, it can make a difference in helping out others who are in need. 【Photo by Erin Uy】