The Tzu Chi Foundation celebrates the seventh lunar month with a charity bazaar for environmental awareness, and vegetarianism.
By Daniel Lazar
The seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar was welcomed by the Tzu Chi Foundation with a charity bazaar on July 30th and 31st, to celebrate world peace, vegetarianism and filial piety. Volunteers and sellers set up stalls and activity centers all throughout the Sta. Mesa grounds and welcomed guests and their families. Guests were shown the history of the Tzu Chi Foundation, and its relief operations, and families were treated to a parent-child experience area where kids were taught about the environment, vegetarianism, and kindness to all living things. Among the visitors were some long time Tzu Chi supporters, foreign dignitaries, and even some celebrities.
In addition to activities and multimedia presentations, guests had the opportunity to sample vegetarian and vegan delicacies prepared by Tzu Chi volunteers and other sellers, and purchase unique, locally made items. Christina Yang, a long-time supporter of the Tzu Chi Foundation, brought her neighbour to the bazaar to introduce them to the Foundation. “Long ago before Covid, I used to come here to buy a lot of things because it was all for charity,” she explained, “I love the food because it’s natural, and very healthy, and today I brought my neighbour to look around and buy something.” Ms. Yang jokingly noted how the 2,000 peso voucher booklet was not enough for her shopping spree, so she had to buy several in order to sample other sellers.
Among other distinguished guests was Michael Hsu, Ambassador of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECO), who graciously bought one of the locally made rattan baskets. The rattan furniture and baskets are made in Angeles, and are not only sturdy and stylish, but also biodegradable, and environmentally friendly. Tzu Chi volunteer Pansy Ho, who presented the rattan products to Mr. Hsu, noted how “rattan is a regenerating climbing plant, so when we use rattan after 20 - 30 years and it breaks, when we dispose of it, it is not harmful to the environment and can also be used as fertilizer.” Mr. Hsu also expressed how the unique properties of rattan align with Master Cheng Yen’s mission and vision for the environment, and he was very thankful to Tzu Chi for this bazaar for introducing him to such beautiful and environmentally friendly products.
In attendance were also two Buddhist monks, Rev. Pu Xue, and Rev Pu Yang, from the Seng Guan Buddhist Temple in Binondo, Manila. While being given the tour of the bazaar by long-time Tzu Chi volunteer, Ophelia Sy, they discussed, and offered their support for the various missions and programs of the Tzu Chi Foundation. Rev. Xue expressed how, “we hope that in the future there is an opportunity for us to cooperate with Tzu Chi in cultivating Buddhism and advocating vegetarianism.” Aside from making a generous donation, they also ordered 100 pineapple cakes for their mass on Auspicious Month.
Notable celebrities attending the bazaar were famous Filipino singer and artist, Jim Paredes and sister, Lori Paredes. A long-time advocate, and practitioner of meditation, Mr. Paredes was very happy to be in the Tzu Chi campus; “I am very impressed with this space,” expressed Mr. Paredes, “it is very Zen and very calming.” After a tour of the bazaar, both sampled the vegetarian and vegan delicacies offered. Mr. Paredes also spoke to us and shared some anecdotes and stories from his youth and days of touring with his band, the APO Hiking Society.
With over a thousand people visiting and partaking in bazaar activities at the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC), volunteers had a busy weekend, clocking over 450 combined man-hours. While for some it was their first visit to BTCC and introduction to the Tzu Chi Foundation, for others, it was their first introduction to environmental responsibility and environmentally friendly products.