January 1, 2024
41 PLM students recognized as Tzu Chi scholars for SY2023-2024
By Joy Rojas
Officials from the Pamantasan Ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), led by University President Atty. Domingo Reyes Jr., met with Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez and other volunteers for the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement that recognizes 41 PLM students as Tzu Chi scholars for schoolyear 2023-2024. Held on December 22 at the Café of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila, the signing concluded with a convivial vegetarian lunch.
Tzu Chi’s Educational Assistance Program covers scholars’ tuition fees and school allowances; it also provides the quarterly supply of rice and assorted grocery items. Monthly Humanity classes instill values espoused by Dharma Master Cheng Yen in hopes of shaping scholars into respectable, responsible, and compassionate individuals.
“Tzu Chi and PLM’s partnership began in 2005,” says Tzu Chi Deputy CEO Woon Ng. “We hope to continue to sustain and strengthen our partnership not only in the field of scholarship but hopefully in programs that will promote increased social responsibility of the students, and for them to learn more about the protection of the environment.”
“Master Cheng Yen always reminds us that ‘To seize the present is to seize the future,’” she continues. “Over time, we can build great character, achieve great success, and cultivate great virtue. Indeed, education is a great investment for building a new breed of leaders that will continue to make our society better.”
As partners in guiding students to live productively and with purpose, the Tzu Chi Foundation and PLM have produced alumni that are a testament to this goal.
The son of a valet parker who relied on loan sharks to support his family, Jamil Carvajal would see his life change when he chanced upon an announcement for applications for Tzu Chi scholars in PLM’s Office of Student Affairs. A Tzu Chi scholar in 2010 and 2011, he graduated from PLM in 2012 with a Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Pilipino, then pursued his master of arts in Pilipino from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Such credentials allowed him to carve a career for himself as a Pilipino teacher to senior high and college students.
Now a Tzu Chi volunteer, Jamil says “The Tzu Chi Foundation doesn’t just support scholars financially, it embeds us with values. Filial piety is what struck me the most. I believe that you have a lifetime of blessings when you care for and respect your parents. I hope the values taught by Tzu Chi stay with today’s generation of scholars.”
In only her second year as a Tzu Chi scholar, Christine Cabuello credits the experience “not only for helping me financially but for supporting me in being a better version of myself,” says the Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English from PLM. “Humanity classes teach us the importance of being compassionate to others, to have a helping hand, for us to have a better world. Maybe in the future, I can be a volunteer to the new batch of scholars.”
Her gratitude for Tzu Chi goes years back. Originally from Samar, she first heard of Tzu Chi Foundation in 2013, when volunteers braved Leyte following the horrific deaths and destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan).
“Even if I wasn’t a beneficiary, I thanked them for helping the Leyteños,” she says. “Ten years later, I’m now a Tzu Chi scholar and the blessings they have given me are amazing!” Coincidentally, fellow PLM-er Jamil Carvajal was her teacher when she was in senior high. “The connections made by Tzu Chi are incredible.”
When it was his turn to address the group, Atty. Domingo Reyes Jr. was visibly moved by the maturity Jamil and Christine showed as they represented their school.
“Like a true spiritual father, I can’t help but beam with pride seeing our children become who they are,” says the PLM university president. “We are truly honored collaborating with an organization that shares our vision of empowering individuals through education. Your founder’s vision aligns seamlessly with our mission of providing not only quality education but a holistic education, transforming not only a human but a total human.”
“I think this partnership will go a long, long way because we share the same vision and values,” he says after the lunch “We both give importance to improving lives, especially of our less-fortunate brothers and sisters.”
Having assumed his post in October, Atty. Reyes Jr. admits he knew little about Tzu Chi. “It’s surprising that foundations like Tzu Chi exist in the middle of the urban jungle!” he exclaims.
The MOA signing quickly brought him up to speed on one of PLM’s longtime collaborators. Now, he’s a believer. “I’d like to emphasize the subject of Humanities,” he says. “Humanities for me should always be an integral part of education. Without Humanities, there is no soul. It is what makes the person complete.”
So inspired is he by the missions of Tzu Chi that he volunteered himself to visit Dharma Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan. “Even with my own money, I will try to meet her to say thank you,” he says, to the group’s warm applause.