May 12, 2022
Buddha Day, Mother’s Day, Tzu Chi Day return to BTCC
By Joy Rojas
Tzu Chi Philippines commissioners, volunteers, and scholars came in full force for the annual celebration of Buddha Day, Tzu Chi Day, and Mother’s Day last May 8 at the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila. The special occasion marked the 56th year of Tzu Chi’s existence worldwide. It was also the first time for a face-to-face gathering of such proportions to push through during a pandemic.
“It’s been two years since the last time we had this celebration,” says the event’s overall coordinator, volunteer Wilson Hung. “This is my first time to handle such a big activity and I’m very thankful to the senior volunteers who extended their knowledge and support to me and our Mingxi group. It was a very good learning experience for all of us. We would like to take this opportunity to show Master Cheng Yen that we’re good and we missed her very much.”
Preparations for the elaborate ceremony began days before, first with a meticulous setup on the grounds fronting the Jing Si Auditorium. Giant banners heralding the three events were hung high on the façade of Harmony Hall, while short bamboo stalks painted in dark green were stacked to form the number “56.”
Another eye-catching arrangement was the nearly 100 crystal Buddhas of various sizes laid out in tables adorned with fresh flowers and lush greens. Like previous Buddha Days, Betty Manabat was in charge of the crystal Buddhas. The delicate pieces were entrusted to her by their owners, the Tzu Chi volunteers. “I asked them to bring their Buddhas one day before Buddha Day. Each Buddha is assigned a number that corresponds to a claim card that I give to the owner. The Buddha is packed in a box and returned to its rightful owner after the event.”
Tzu Chi commissioners, volunteers, and scholars also devoted days to practicing the formation and actions for the Buddha Bathing Ceremony, the highlight of the event. In the ceremony, participants bow before a crystal Buddha and touch the bowl of water, a gesture that is akin to touching Buddha’s foot. When they bow a second time, they pick a flower from a bowl to symbolize their claiming of fragrance and blessings.
Tresia Siplante Traqueña, an education major at the Philippine Normal University and a Tzu Chi scholar for eight years, appreciates the relevance of the event. “It’s an opportunity for us scholars to return to Tzu Chi. Personally, I am grateful to everyone in the Tzu Chi Foundation. Because of them, I can graduate and apply what I learned for the sake of our country.”
By late afternoon, the mood at BTCC took a somber turn, as participants walked and bowed reverently and in unison, mindful of the auspicious occasion.
But the day ended on a hopeful note. Raising a light that resembled a lotus flower, the volunteers silently acknowledged their life’s blessings, and signified their commitment to continue spreading Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teachings of volunteerism, compassion, and love for all sentient beings.