August 12, 2021
In the spirit of bayanihan, beneficiaries share their blessings
By Joy Rojas
Before claiming his two sacks of 10-kg rice and grocery pack at the relief distribution event organized for tricycle drivers by the Tzu Chi Foundation and Caloocan City government at Grace Park Elementary School on August 4, tricycle driver Arsenio de la Cruz stopped by the area that accepts donations and pledged P100.
Given the struggles faced by public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers since the start of the pandemic (alternate days on the road, fewer commuters, meager take-home pay), P100 is money De la Cruz can’t afford to part with. But as financially strapped as he is, he knows he still has something to give.
“To be honest with you, from what I’ve seen, there are so many people who are hungry,” says an emotional De la Cruz. “So I don’t charge a senior citizen who rides my tricycle, and I give money to commuters who don’t have fare. I don’t mind, for as long as I’m not a burden to anyone.”
While the impact of the pandemic on our livelihoods has led many to think of themselves and their personal needs first, it has also moved others to share whatever time and resources they have with others.
That’s the bayanihan spirit in action. A trait innate among Filipinos, the term originally described members of a community helping a family move house by literally lifting a stilted bahay kubo off the ground with the aid of bamboo poles and carrying it in unison to its new location. Today, bayanihan simply means the coming together of people to the aid of someone, even a total stranger. More often than not, the willingness to help presents itself naturally and without expectation. Yet some are driven by the opportunity to give back, as they too were once recipients of other’s generosity and kindness.
Recalling the aid they received from Tzu Chi at the height of hard lockdowns last year, Gregorio Bernas and three of his fellow jeepney drivers dropped by Grace Park Elementary School to turn over pledges they had collected for the tricycle drivers.
“Tzu Chi opened our eyes. Whether it’s a small or big amount, it’s still a donation and it can help others,” he says.
Days before the relief distribution, Rosano Luy learned that only 210 of his association’s 450 tricycle driver members would receive aid. “So I met with the group and asked them if it was okay that we each share a 10-kg sack of rice with those who weren’t on the list so everyone can claim something,” he says. “Give and take, that’s what’s important.”
Indeed, in the cycle of give and take and the spirit of bayanihan, beneficiaries aren’t the only ones on the receiving end of blessings.
“Oh, we’re very happy,” says Bernas of what it felt to give this time around. “Tzu Chi helped us before. Now it’s our turn to give back so they can help others.”
“When you give, God will give you blessings, overflowing and beyond measure,” says Luy.