September 22, 2022
Spreading the Dharma: Tzu Chi volunteers conduct community-based humanities classes in Cebu
By Ben Baquilod
For Tzu Chi Cebu volunteers, spreading the values and teachings of Dharma Master Cheng Yen and cherishing all affinities are critical instruments to fulfill Tzu Chi’s mission of helping more people in need. With this in mind, volunteers started holding community-based humanities classes in Cebu.
In May, Tzu Chi Cebu partnered with Babag National High School and volunteer teachers from the Dharma Master Wei Chi Scholarship Program to hold values formation program for Grade 7 and 8 students of the school. The program incorporates the teachings of Confucius—through the book Di Zi Gui, or the Standards for being a Good Pupil and Child—with Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s Jing Si Aphorisms. Fifty (50) students joined the program and learned various topics including filial piety, respect for family, and love and care for all beings.
The students and their parents were also introduced to Tzu Chi’s compassionate technology, and were amazed to see Tzu Chi’s products made of plastics: the blankets, uniforms and pants, and the Jing Si folding beds. Volunteers also conducted the symbolic foot washing ceremony where students had the opportunity to show gratitude and love to their parents.
Applying what they learned, the students painted their school walls and classrooms with Master Cheng Yen’s Jing Si Aphorisms, with illustrations based on their interpretations. “I am happy to paint the Jing Si Aphorisms because it motivates me and other people who see them,” said Grade 9 student Ashley Denise Loremas.
“What’s really special is that the students who did it are the same students who attended the values formation program. So, it has a special meaning to them,” said Cebu volunteer and program coordinator Mariel Ybañez. “It’s really very good that even a wall can speak Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s lesson. We always say that everyone is a Dharma door, I would also say the everything is a Dharma door.”
On September 16, Manila volunteers flew to Cebu and had the opportunity to see the mural and meet the students. The students shared what they learned from the humanities classes and confidently recited some Jing Si Aphorisms that resonated with them. “I have learned to be kind to all beings because everyone deserves it,” says one student.
The volunteers also visited the humanities class of the youth parishioners of Our Lady of Consolation Parish-Recoletos in Talisay City, Cebu. The parishioners helped Tzu Chi Cebu volunteers in the rice distribution to tricycle drivers during Tzu Chi’s pandemic response, and more recently, during Typhoon Odette relief efforts.
With the growing affinity between the Buddhist humanitarian foundation and the Catholic group, a collaboration has been initiated between Tzu Chi Cebu Liaison Office and Cebu Caritas. On August 6, the two groups organized a capacity building and formation workshop called “Nagkahiusa sa Gugma” (One in Love). Its objectives are to establish partnership in carrying out relief works, build a network of local volunteers, share Tzu Chi culture and principles in carrying out relief works, and help each other in creating sustainable programs to alleviate the suffering of the needy in their community.
To help achieve this goal, Tzu Chi Cebu volunteers started holding humanities classes to the youth parishioners twice a month. The parishioners learn not only Tzu Chi’s distinguished way of carrying out humanitarian missions but also the teachings of Master Cheng Yen.
Tzu Chi Cebu volunteer Mariel Ybañez is happy for this development: “It would only tell us that even if we have different beliefs or faiths, we can be united as one with love, and we can be united as one in love.”