November 10, 2022
Tzu Chi volunteers hold Fiesta Verde at BTCC
By Ben Baquilod
Aiming to promote vegetarianism and sustainable living, Tzu Chi Philippines held Fiesta Verde on November 5 and 6 at the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila. The festival featured more than 60 external exhibitors as well as stalls managed by Tzu Chi volunteers.
Volunteers worked for weeks to put up the bazaar to advocate green living and raise funds for the various humanitarian programs of the foundation. Tents were set up in the BTCC plaza for exhibitors and guests. Several products also filled the Harmony Hall and Coffee Shop while the Jing Si Hall housed a photo exhibit that highlights Tzu Chi Philippines’ footprints for the past 28 years.
“There were a lot of difficulties, but I’m thankful to my fellow volunteers who are always there to help think and find solutions,” said head organizer Molita Chua.
For livelihood head volunteer Alvin Acero, providing logistical requirements and materials proved to be challenging. They prepared long tables for weeks and found out they still lacked many the night before the event. “So, I brought my tables at home, and some of my fellow volunteers also brought theirs. I’m really thankful to them,” said Acero. “I also thank the Tzu Chi staff for their help. Without them, we would not have accomplished everything.”
A volunteer for nine years now, Alvin Acero followed the footsteps of her late mother Baby Acero. When her mother was training to become a commissioner, he would drive her to Tzu Chi’s activities and was inspired to see the good works of the Buddhist foundation.
Even after the passing of her mother at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alvin had become more dedicated, generously giving his resources and time to Tzu Chi. “Whether it’s fire relief, medical mission, educational assistance, or events like this, it all gives me the same thing—happiness. Happiness that is priceless,” he said.
Volunteering for a noble cause makes one happy indeed, as Dr. Cheung Lau Chun also believes. Dr. Chun is a member of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) and has been a volunteer for 15 years. “Usually, I take care of the dental missions, but now I help in the food stalls and I’m happy doing it,” she said.
Dr. Chun’s group was in charge of preparing and selling Dan Dan noodle soup, a famous Taiwanese street food made of noodles, vegetarian balls, sweet potato leaves, monkey head mushrooms, coriander, and mushroom sauce.
Volunteers from different provinces also flew to Manila to contribute. Davao volunteers sold frozen durian, chocolate tablea, banana chips, coffee beans, and the bestselling special chocolate nougat made of pure cacao. “We are enjoying our time here with our brothers and sisters in Tzu Chi campus. We feel the warmth of everyone,” said Davao volunteer Michelle Hsu in much delight.
The Japanese grocery Star Mix also caught the attention of many customers. It is owned by Chen Jinfu, joining Tzu Chi’s Fiesta Verde for the second time. Then managing a fruit and vegetable importing business, he first joined the charity bazaar at the Metrotent Convention Center in Pasig in 2017. At that time, he was donating bulks of goods to Tzu Chi’s kitchen.
In continuous support of the foundation, Jinfu joined last weekend’s bazaar and donated 20% of his sales to Tzu Chi.
Helping Tzu Chi’s mission was also why guest James Ng patronized the event. He was happy to bring home good finds—from fresh fruits and vegetables, food containers, to water dispensers.
“I want to help Tzu Chi because they really are helping a lot of people, especially our Filipino communities who happened to be in disasters, as well as those indigent students and indigenous peoples,” Ng said.