Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines successfully held Buddha’s birthday, Mother’s Day and its 46th founding anniversary last May 13 at the Marikina Sports Park.
At least 15, 000 people participated in said event including Chinese and Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers, staff, beneficiaries, donors, invited guests, religious leaders, Marikina City officials, representatives from Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Along with the celebration, some 9, 825 poor families were given 20-kilo sack of imported rice from Taiwan. Recipients came from different communities including six barangays in Marikina City.
Prior the event, Tzu Chi volunteers painstakingly underwent series of rehearsals for the human formation that was to highlight unity among people.
Patterns formed were the shapes of a Bodhi leaf, of which tree Gautama Buddha was enlightened; the lotus, a flower that beautifully blooms amid murky waters which, in Tzu Chi, symbolizes how each one can flourish and bring out true Buddha nature despite worldly delusions; and the Tzu Chi logo that reminds people to purify minds, harmonize society and help reduce disasters by planting seeds of goodness.
Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao, the lead planner for the event, was all but happy that the two-month preparation has bore success. He said it was a dream come true to finally see the actual formation, beautiful as it was hoped to be.
“The people who stayed with us until this day have been very sincere with their commitment ever since when we are just preparing for this,” he said.
Siao added that he is grateful that Tzu Chi’s branch here has accomplished such great affinity through everyone’s concerted effort.
“Everyone cooperated and tried their bests. They had all been mindful of their roles before and during the event,” he furthered.
Although the celebration began with a downpour, Siao considered it a “shower of blessing” as it was a time that all people will be awakened for heartfelt piety.
The rain at the onset of the event did not slacken the dedication of the volunteers as they stood still on their positions. Whereas, the garbage bags that would have served as their seats were used as raincoats as they altogether prayed earnestly for the heavy shower to stop.
“It was through the rain that all people’s sincerity was ignited. The heavens above reminded us to be prudent and maintain a heart of gratitude,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Siao, adding that everyone’s faith has triggered the good weather thereafter.
Before this, all participants are requested to complete at least 108 vegetarian meals to cleanse themselves before coming to pay homage to the Buddha.
For that purpose, vegetarian passports were distributed to all participants to help them monitor their consumption of vegetarian meals since March until May.
Meanwhile, Siao’s sister Maureen, who came all the way from Taiwan, volunteered to join his brother in hosting the threefold celebration, saying it was her chance to take part and contribute a little of what she can give.
“The whole program was so moving to see because even if we have differences in faith, we were united to pray for peace and for the betterment of mankind,” she mentioned, adding it was how Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen wishes them to share the teachings of the Buddha.
Formation participants prove their commitment as they stayed against the downpour at the onset of the festivity, only putting on the garbage bag intended not as raincoats but as their seats. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】