The celebration of the Auspicious Month continues into September as more than 900 individuals participate in the 21-day vegetarian lunch meal campaign. Various groups, ranging from returning clientele to first-time participants, join the event to promote a healthier lifestyle, starting with consuming at least one vegetarian meal a day.
There are several Filipino-Chinese communities located within the Greater Manila Area that have chosen to join the 21-day event, which is now on its second year.
Tzu Chi volunteer Ophelia Sy is the contact person when it comes to fulfilling the vegetarian boxed lunch orders in Caloocan City. She makes it a point to hand off each of the requested orders in person, as there is a significant impact when the ordered meals are delivered in person.
“Since the location of most of the people who ordered meals here in the Caloocan area are near each other, I’ve decided to make the deliveries personally. It’s faster, and you can gather immediate feedback from those who placed their orders directly. Most of the feedback that we have received so far is positive,” Sy shares.
“At the same time, it’s a good way to develop relationships with our clients, so that they can get to know more about Tzu Chi whenever we have our conversations. I am collecting their direct feedback so that I can tell our fellow volunteers what they can improve on,” she adds.
Among those who have placed a substantial amount of orders are the faculty members of Northern Rizal Yorklin School in Grace Park, with 30 faculty members taking part.
Sy shares that it is thanks to the efforts of a fellow Tzu Chi volunteer working in the school that the faculty members are able to enjoy the meals.
Ayaka Datuin, a science teacher, always educates her pupils about the importance of saving the environment and its connection to global warming. As the topic is relevant to her field of expertise, she always reminds her students to watch what they eat.
“As a science teacher, we always remind our students that global warming is a serious environmental problem. It’s one way to teach students not to kill animals to eat food. Instead, you should plant more fruits and vegetables to eat healthier,” she shares.
Fellow teacher Junalyn Amto shares the same sentiments. Both she and Datuin are familiar with vegetarianism and decide to give the packed lunch meals a try.
“Even in college, we were made aware of the teachings. Buddha said: “We cannot harm any sentient being regardless of size.” So, I am aware of that. At least when you eat vegetarian food, you didn’t contribute to killing an animal just to eat good food,” Amto remarks.
Chinese-language teacher Lian Giao Hong shares that shifting towards a vegetarian diet, even if it’s just one meal in a day, has brought some significant changes to her health.
“I heard people talking about how adapting a vegetarian diet would make you feel healthier. So when our fellow faculty members took part in the 21-dayvegetarian packed meal event, I decided to avail of a meal as well. I have been eating the packed lunch meals for the past twelve days now, and there is a noticeable change from inside, it’s true. I am much healthier,” she mentions.
Lian is also considering transitioning to a vegetarian diet because it will help in her lifestyle. At the same time, she was made aware of the Tzu Chi Foundation’s existence in China, and is more than willing to learn more after their one-year teaching contract has expired.
Fellow teacher Chen Yan Si expresses that, prior to joining the 21-day campaign, she had been eating more non-vegetarian dishes. But after trying the vegetarian lunch meals made by Tzu Chi, she remarks that she is considering shifting to a healthier way of living.
“I was curious about the campaign at first. So I decided to try it out, since most of my fellow faculty members were also interested in the boxed meals. The food that is delivered every day not only looks good, but it also offers a balanced diet for busy people like us,” Chen remarks.
Meanwhile, at the Jing Si Books & Café in downtown Manila, majority of the orders placed are for the Filipino-Chinese residents living in the area. Most of, if not all of those who’ve placed orders have learned of the event through acquaintances and friends who serve as Tzu Chi volunteers.
One of the customers picking up their orders directly from the Jing Si store is Goldieglace Ngo, who owns a convenience store at the nearby 1188 Mall.
Ngo orders her lunch from a nearby karinderya in most days. However, she decided to try the vegetarian packed lunch at a friend’s recommendation.
“I also wanted to get into it so that I can start losing weight, and have a change of diet, since the food is vegetable-based and we can avoid eating meat. Also, when you purchase a boxed meal, it’s like you’ve already donated to help other people out who need it,” Ngo ends.
Two Tzu Chi volunteers load the boxes containing vegetarian packed meals into their vehicle for delivery around the Caloocan area, where a sizable Filipino-Chinese community resides. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
Science teachers Junalyn Amto and Ayaka Datuin prepare to receive their vegetarian packed lunch meals from a Tzu Chi volunteer. Thirty employees of the Northern Rizal Yorklin School are participants in the 21-day vegetarian lunch meal event. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
In another classroom, these Tzu Chi volunteers ask one of the teachers if the vegetarian meal is delicious, to which they get an affirmative answer. 【Photo by Erin Uy】
One of the participants of the 21-day lunch campaign personally drops by the Jing Si Books & Café store in Soler, Manila to pick up their order. 【Photo by Erin Uy】