A day before the scheduled rice relief distributions to 40 Barangays in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Tzu Chi volunteers made last-minute preparations.
The volunteers were divided into three groups, with each group assigned to facilitate the relief program to three or more barangays. The program includes sign language performances from the volunteers.
Although they have yet to rest from the consecutive rice stub distributions in the previous days, the volunteers chose to use their free time on February 1 to rehearse their sign language presentations.
Tzu Chi volunteer Expedita Platero doesn’t mind staying up late to prepare for the relief program.
“We are practicing our performances for the upcoming rice relief to make sure that we can bring smiles on the recipients’ faces. I know they’ve had a hard time because of the calamities that struck them. We want them to remember us not just as Tzu Chi Foundation that gave aid but also as Tzu Chi Foundation that gave joy,” says Platero.
The performances are not only intended to entertain the recipients but also to send a powerful message about unity and love.
“We are going to teach to the recipients the song ‘One Family’ because here in Tzu Chi Foundation, we are one family. We may differ in terms of race, blood type, or status, but we are one here as a family,” explains Tzu Chi volunteer Roque Baytan.
The volunteers will also teach the rice recipients the meaning of Tzu Chi and the corresponding hand gestures. Tzu Chi’s founder, Master Cheng Yen, teaches that we should not only pity those in suffering but also do something to help them. Hence ‘Tzu’ means compassion while ‘Chi’ means relief.
As the rehearsal unfolds, Tzu Chi volunteers Jimmy Chua and Teodulo Granada met with the local volunteers at Congressman Frederick Siao’s office. These local volunteers had assisted Tzu Chi in the rice stub distributions and helped translate the local dialect into Filipino.
During the discussion about the upcoming relief distribution, concerns like language barriers and crowd management came up. In the end, everyone agreed to follow Tzu Chi’s culture of holding relief distributions – volunteers will give the sacks of rice using both hands while recipients form a neat line. Suggestions such as separate entrance and exit gates for the recipients and assigning a Tzu Chi volunteer and a local volunteer to lead each relief distribution were also honored.
“I think the discussion we had is good because we came up with better ideas in implementing our projects. Also, I think the most important outcome is that the volunteers of Tzu Chi and the Congressman’s office got to know each other more,” observes District Operations Manager Vic Lingating. “Our local volunteers are very eager to help in the upcoming relief distributions because they saw the happiness of their fellowmen during the rice stub distribution. They are certain that the recipients will be happier on the actual rice relief.”
At the end of the day, everyone realized the importance of communication to achieve a task. No matter how difficult a task may seem when people respect each other’s differences, everyone will work together in peace and harmony towards a goal.
Tzu Chi volunteer Jimmy Chua leads the final meeting for the upcoming rice distribution.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers rehearse the sign language of the songs ‘One Family’ and ‘Nice to Meet You’. They hope to paint smiles in the rice recipients’ faces while making them feel loved through the performances. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz 】
Tzu Chi volunteers will also teach the recipients the sign language for ‘Mama, Papa, I love you.’ Through this, they aim to instill the value of respecting one’s parents to the beneficiaries.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers watch a video of a sign language presentation, which they will also perform before the rice recipients on February 2 and 3.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
The volunteers will be grouped into three to facilitate the simultaneous rice distributions. Each group needs a volunteer to operate the sound system and laptop. Tzu Chi volunteer Jimmy Chua (standing) teaches Roque Baytan (sitting) how to operate the laptop. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteer Jimmy Chua meets with the local volunteers at Congressman Frederick Siao’s office. They review the problems that came up during the rice stub distributions and suggest strategies to avoid it in the actual rice distribution.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A volunteer from the Congressman’s office suggests that for the recipients who will refuse to fall in line and calm down while waiting for their turn, volunteers must hold their rice stubs and talk to them first. They want the people to understand the value of discipline.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A Tzu Chi volunteer suggests assigning a separate entrance and exit gates for the recipients.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
A volunteer from the Congressman’s office writes down the designated tasks and responsibilities of the volunteers for the rice distribution on February 2 and 3.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteer Jimmy Chua shows the proper way of collecting the rice stubs and grouping it into ten pieces. This will make it easier to count the number of beneficiaries after the distributions.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
District Operation Manager Vic Lingating thanks the Tzu Chi volunteers for their patience and understanding of their fellowmen. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Before leaving the Congressman’s office, Tzu Chi volunteers Jimmy Chua and Teodulo Granada thank Vic Lingating and the rest of the local volunteers for assisting them throughout their stay in Iligan City.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】
Tzu Chi volunteers rehearse singing the song “One Family”. They may have been doing this countless of times already but they want to make this particular relief program special since this is the first time they will interact with Iliganons and Maranaos.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】