Government employees, who are also typhoon victims, have been also afforded assistance through the cash relief provided by Tzu Chi Foundation on January 21.
Each of the total 1,457 beneficiaries from the provincial and city government offices located in Tacloban City have received P15,000. This cash relief is intended to support the typhoon victims in getting their lives back.
Present during the activity is Leyte governor Dominic Petilla who thanks the foundation for sparing some help for the regular and casual employees of the province. “Take note that what Tzu Chi is giving you is a gift that you should not own but be shared to all the people in Leyte (by working hard),” he addresses the crowd, emphasizing that as public servants, they “have a huge task and a responsibility to people”.
While the government employees have also been badly affected, they have been in the front lines during the provincial office’s disaster management efforts. Most of them have not yet received any aid.
The governor ends his message by saying, “Let us recover through the love that Tzu Chi is extending us.”
As a way of expressing their gratitude, Governor Petilla and the board members of the province have passed a resolution lauding the Tzu Chi Foundation for the help it has extended to the residents in the cities of Ormoc and Tacloban; and the municipalities of Tanauan, Palo, Tunga, and Dulag.
Tzu Chi Philippines’ CEO Alfredo Li has also handed him a thermal blanket and a financial assistance but the governor, moved by the foundation’s ell-embracing love for the people in Leyte, gave back the money. “It can help one more family who is much more in need,” he says.
Leading by example, the governor’s act also inspired the vice governor, Carlo Loreto, to donate the cash assistance also allotted for his typhoon-affected family.
In the program, Tzu Chi volunteers have emphasized how 47 countries pooled their efforts to gather financial donations and benefit the typhoon victims in the Visayas region. That “Tzu Chi is not rich in money but in love” is the message of Tzu Chi Philippines’ CEO Alfredo Li for all the beneficiaries.
“Our volunteers around the world do not wish anything in return except that you make good use of the money for your families,” says Li. The beneficiaries have pledged not to waste the assistance on vices such as smoking, drinking, and gambling.
Love is the greatest lesson
During the prayer, tears roll from the eyes of Doris Quieta. Besides washing out their house, the typhoon took away all her four children. “The total casualty in my immediate family is 17 members including my mother, sister, two in-laws, nephew, and one grandchild,” she relates.
Their place in Barangay Mohon, Tanauan is two kilometres away from the coastline. During the storm surge, the water went as far as four kilometres. The house where all her family members evacuated was reduced to fragments. “It was a sturdy, two-storey structure. We all thought it was the safest place.”
Even two months after the tragedy, she and her husband still could not fully start building up their lives once again. “It’s very painful though we also know that they wouldn’t want to see us this way. It will take time,” she says. The emotional comfort, the reflections, and the prayer have been helpful for Quieta to appease her mind.
“What you did is very good because people really need to be awakened. My eldest son used to tell me how man has abused the environment,” she adds.
This is echoed by Dr. Rufina Bato, a resident physician at Leyte Provincial Hospital. She has lost three members of her family who lived in Anibong, a coastal area in Tacloban City.
Bato lauds the generosity of the foundation and she is also amazed by its way of reaching out to the hearts of the people. “I can see that they (Tzu Chi Foundation and its volunteers) are very sincere in their help. The people are made aware of what’s happening and we are given some awakening that we also have to help and love one another,” she says.
In the program, Tzu Chi volunteers have explained that the foundation hopes to encourage a circulation of love among the recipients. It hopes that everyone can be part of the cycle of goodness: helping one person in need and another.
“Even though we are in a disaster area, we still should do something to help. I am tearful actually. It moves me that many people are helping us although we do not know them. Thank you to all of you. We are very grateful on behalf of my co-employees. This is really a big help,” she adds.
Another recipient is Dr. Edgardo Daip, he says that the financial assistance is a great help for his family especially now that they are starting to rebuild the house that has been ravaged by typhoon Yolanda.
“I am already starting to rebuild my house so what you gave could really help me pay P1,300 for labor costs per day. This is really helpful,” he says.
Like Quieta and Bato, Daip has also gained important lessons from the program held before the actual relief distribution.
“I realized that Tzu Chi is really different in terms of programs like this that’s why I was happy. We are all equal in the name of love and sharing. That, for me, makes Tzu Chi so beautiful,” he ends.
An unexpected help
At Tacloban City Hall, the recipients have expressed much gratitude for the cash assistance. “It was an unexpected help,” says Rogelio Caysido. “We never expected this but surprisingly you came and a lot of us will be able to get back on our feet.”
For two months now, they have been under the shelter of a tarpaulin because all their roofs have been peeled off by the strong winds during the typhoon. “Now we can buy galvanized iron sheets. I am very glad because your financial assistance will help many of us to recover. Even our economy will be revived,” he says.
For another staff, Florentina Meneses, the assistance is much more than just the cash envelope. “I really felt that you really have the love. It’s not the money that you give but it’s the love that counts the most,” she says.
Meneses lost her 54-year-old sister who has down syndrome due to the typhoon. “Through the program, I was lightened up. I have been keeping a heavy feeling since then. But I have come to realize that there really comes a time when we have to let go and let God take over,” she says.
Tzu Chi volunteers have shared about the two things in life that cannot wait: time and impermanence. These two have brought a big impact on her during the program. Recovery will take time, she says, but “we will move forward.”
The song “One Family” has reassured Meneses and the rest of the typhoon victims that they are not alone in this time of need. By the end of the activity, the beneficiaries and the Tzu Chi volunteers are united in a sincere prayer—for the victims’ recovery and for the world’s peace and harmony.
Employees from the provincial government of Leyte are gathered for the relief distribution of Tzu Chi Foundation on January 21. On this day, they have been given a thermal blanket and cash assistance to help them rebuild their homes after being damaged by typhoon Yolanda. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Gratitude overflows from the relief venue as the beneficiaries do the sign language of thank you. Beyond words are their expressions for the help that has been handed to them by Tzu Chi Foundation after the destructions caused by the super typhoon. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
Through sign language, Dr. Edgardo Daip joins the crowd in sending their regards to Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Leyte Governor Dominic Petilla shakes hand with Tzu Chi Philippines’ CEO Alfredo Li upon handing over the resolution they have passed to recognized Tzu Chi’s disaster relief and response in the province. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Governor Petilla presents a token of appreciation to Tzu Chi volunteers by handing over some coffee table book about Leyte. He likens Tzu Chi volunteers to Douglas McArthur who did what he said he would do: to return to Leyte. Tzu Chi volunteers have been coming back and forth to Leyte province to provide relief assistance to typhoon victims. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
Governor Petilla, also a typhoon victim, is being handed a cash envelope by Tzu Chi volunteer Alfredo Li. Upon receiving, the governor has donated it back hoping to help a family that is much more in need. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Following the footsteps of the province head, vice governor Carlo Loreto also gives back the cash aid he is supposed to receive from the foundation. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Tzu Chi volunteers and some local officials of the province of Leyte perform the sign language of One Family during the relief distribution on January 21. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
Beneficiaries share with Tzu Chi Foundation’s mission of Great Love as they donate plastic bottles filled with coins. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Doctor Edgardo Daip receives the cash assistance and thermal blanket from a Tzu Chi volunteer. Daip is now rebuilding her home and the cash aid, he says, would help him pay for the labor costs. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Doctor Rufina Bato receives the cash assistance provided to her and 1,008 of her co-employees at the office of provincial government. More important than the money, she says, are the lessons imparted to them by the volunteers. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Following an orderly procedure, these recipients form a neat line in receiving their thermal blanket and cash aid. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Tzu Chi volunteer Alfredo Li gives a sharing to 431 employees of the city government of Tacloban City on January 21. A relief distribution is held later on where the government workers are given P15,000 cash for their typhoon-hit families. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
Participants in the relief program join in singing and doing the sign language of the song “One Family”. In every relief program, Tzu Chi Foundation hopes that its relief beneficiaries would feel welcomed, that they are not alone in their suffering. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
The beneficiaries show their happy faces as they do the sign language of Tzu Chi—one hand under a smiling face and another hand swaying out, a sign of a person giving help with a happy heart. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Florentina Meneses, 50 and a resident nurse, cries during the prayer part of the program. She remembers the pain of losing her sister due to the typhoon but feels lightened up after having heard the sharing of Tzu Chi volunteers about time and impermanence. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Rogelio Caysido, 58, sincerely joins the prayer. He is grateful to Tzu Chi Foundation because the financial assistance he has received will help his family buy permanent roofing for their house. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Tzu Chi volunteers sincerely bow as their way of thanking the beneficiaries for paving an avenue for them to be of help. Many volunteers come from different countries and have been in the country on their own expense to personally deliver their love and care for the disaster victims. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
Tzu Chi volunteers show deep gratitude toward the beneficiaries. Even though language serves as barrier, these volunteers find way to express their sincerity and love for the Filipino beneficiaries. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】
Rogelio Caysido, a father of eight children, receives the thermal blanket and a cash envelope from a Tzu Chi volunteer. By means of bowing, he expresses his gratitude for the foreign volunteers who made an effort to extend help to them. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】