Four beneficiaries have demonstrated honesty as they returned the excess cash from the envelopes given to them by Tzu Chi Foundation on January 20 during its on-going emergency relief aid for typhoon Yolanda victims in Leyte.
One such beneficiary is Noemi Caneja, 58, a resident from Barangay Cogon, Palo municipality. She is allotted P8,000 by the foundation for her and her husband, a stroke patient. It surprised her when she saw that two cash envelopes were placed inside her packet, each with P8,000.
“My conscience could not bear it. It feels much better to have a clear conscience than to have more money. I can only get what is rightfully mine,” she says. Caneja, a fish vendor, mentions that it is the same with business. “Honesty pays,” she adds.
Caneja also remarks that the sharing before the actual relief distribution struck a chord in her heart. “I also believe that we reap whatever we sow. We will have bad karma if we don’t do good deeds.”
Now the P8,000 she has brought home will be used for the medication of her paralyzed husband since some four years ago. After the typhoon, their savings have been depleted to supply for their basic needs. And because fishing has stopped, they have no earnings to buy the medicines of her husband. “I am very grateful for your assistance,” she says.
Another recipient Ma. Bella Castello has given back P500 excess from her cash assistance of P12,000. “You have helped us in many ways, not just financially. If there is anything I have learned from you, it is to have the heart that doesn’t covet,” she says.
Bonaparte Lorenzo is another story. He has taken home P21,000 instead of the P15,000 allotted to families with five or more members. When he reached home and counted the money, he admits his heart skipped but immediately decided to go back to the relief venue and surrender the P6,000 excess cash.
“I decided to return it because the 15,000 is already a huge help for us. I know that the P6,000 will be a big help for other people,” he says. “Lorenzo is a factory worker.
He mentions that he thanks the foundation for the lessons it has brought them. “I have been so inspired by your kindness and honesty in giving us this kind of help; there is no way that we should not pay forward,” he adds.
All 2,514 beneficiaries from the town have received a thermal blanket and a cash assistance of P8,000 for two members, P12,000 for three to four members, and P15,000 for five or more members. This assistance is to help the typhoon victims get back on their feet. In getting the cash envelopes, the beneficiaries have to surrender a claim card as a proof that they have already received the financial support.
In the case of Pascualito Ilagan, a professor from the Eastern Visayas State University, his claim card was skipped during the actual distribution. He could have lined up once again and get twice the amount but he chose to surrender the claim card to the volunteers.
Present in the three batches of the relief program, which covered 10 areas in Palo municipality, is Mayor Remedios Petilla who admits she can’t keep herself from smiling, full of pride for the town residents.
“It is really something to be proud of. I’m proud that it happened here in Palo. I’m really very grateful for them (the people) but also, I cannot thank Tzu Chi Foundation enough,” she says.
The mayor is also able to experience the manner in which Tzu Chi Foundation distributes the relief goods: carried with all respect by the hand and personally handed over to the beneficiaries in an orderly procedure. The principles of gratitude, respect, and love can be felt.
“I’m very happy and very gratified that I was able to share on this activity. It is the first time that I have joined and I really saw how you reach out to the hearts of the people. I’m thankful to Master Cheng Yen,” she adds.
In Tanauan municipality, a separate relief distribution is held during the afternoon of January 20 where about 2,000 residents have received blankets and financial assistance.
Among them is Emeliana Cabe, 77-year-old who lives with her husband by the shore in Barangay San Roque. The typhoon totally swept their house during the storm surge that reached as far as four kilometres from the coastline.
“Our situation is tough and painful. When our house was devastated by the typhoon, we were carried by the raging waters away until we reach the next barrio,” she says. All their things were gone. To survive, they are currently squeezing themselves in a very small space in the middle of the ruins of houses. They have covered it with a tarpaulin to shelter them during rainy days.
“My husband is selling scrap materials so that we can buy water, matches, and some bread. We are so thankful that you have extended us some help because we are poor. We don’t have a regular job. The assistance that we have received will be used for our daily living,” she adds.
Ma. Bella Castello returns the extra P500 from her P12,000 cash gift from Tzu Chi Foundation. Moved by the group’s kindness, Ma. Bella says it is just right to return their favor by being honest. 【Photo by Jennifer Liu】
Bonaparte Lorenzo is being interviewed by Tzu Chi volunteers after he returned the P6,000 excess cash from the P15,000 allotted for his family. 【Photo by Jennifer Liu】
Tzu Chi volunteers provide a bowl of instant rice to the beneficiaries during the relief program in Palo, Leyte. All recipients have also been given a thermal blanket and cash assistance depending on the number of their family members. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Mayor Remedios Petilla gives a hug to a beneficiary during distribution of relief. Attending the program from the first until the last batch, the mayor is proud that the people from her town have shown honesty by returning the extra money that has been mistakenly handed out to them. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Over a thousand people from the coastal areas of San Joaquin and San Roque in Leyte have attended the relief distribution on January 20. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
People lift up their bottles of coins which they save up to be donated to Tzu Chi Foundation. Each and everyone have expressed their desire to take part in Tzu Chi’s missions. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
People from Tanauan, Leyte start sowing good seeds as they give bottles filled with coins to a volunteer doctor from the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA). 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Tzu Chi volunteers show the thermal blanket to the residents from Tanauan, Leyte. This blanket represents Tzu Chi’s advocacy for environmental protection through recycling. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Filled with gratitude, respect, and love, Tzu Chi volunteers hand out the thermal blankets and cash envelopes to the recipients who live near the coastlines in Tanauan, Leyte. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
A Tzu Chi volunteer bids goodbye to the Cabe couple after the latter have received their relief goods. Emeliana Cabe, 77, is thankful for the cash assistance as it will primarily provide for their basic needs. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Tzu Chi volunteers give their well wishes to the residents of Tanauan, Leyte who have received relief aid from Tzu Chi Foundation. A thermal blanket and financial assistance are given to each of the beneficiaries. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
On behalf of his fellow residents from Tanauan, Leyte, the skimboarding capital of the country, Edgardo Embong gives his message of thanks to Tzu Chi Foundation through plywood formed into a skimboard. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】