June 20, 2023
Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Philippines’ First Moving Up Ceremony
By Joy Rojas
Eight Preschool students and 21 Nursery students each received certificates and medals in the first Moving Up Ceremony of Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Philippines, held on June 17 at the Jing Si Hall of Tzu Chi Foundation Agno Street, Quezon City. This milestone comes nine months after the preschool’s opening, thus launching Tzu Chi Philippines’ Mission of Education.
A portion of Agno’s Jing Si Hall featured artwork inspired by students’ lessons on the environment and giving back. Messages on protecting the Earth and its resources were interpreted by Preschool students and their parents using recyclable and discarded materials. Nursery students and their parents made eco-friendly toys. Colorful paintings on canvass created by the boys and girls hung from the ceiling. Proceeds from their sale went to a fund to support Tzu Chi’s current roster of 1,380 scholars.
The environment was also the theme in skits performed by the Preschool and Nursery kids. Family members cheered as their little graduates donned costumes of plants and animals and recited their lines on cue.
School directress and teacher Jane Sy shed tears of gratitude in her message to families and the preschool’s officers, teachers, and staff.
“It’s been quite a journey. After a year of uncertainties, I am happy to say we finally did it. With the cooperation and collaboration of parents, teachers, students, staff, and everyone working behind the scenes, we were able to run a schoolyear. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Master Cheng Yen for creating the wonderful world of Tzu Chi and for allowing us to cultivate this field of education.
“I’d like to express my thanks to our CEO, Henry Yuñez, for your trust and support, to the executive committee, and to all the volunteers who made this year possible. The early years are one of the most important years in a person’s life. [To our students] I am deeply proud of each and every one of you and I’m happy to see that you are ready to spread your wings.”
John David and Czarina Comeque believe that Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Philippines prepared their daughter Sophia Claire for her acceptance at St. Jude Catholic School.
“I’m very proud that Sophia graduated, but I’m prouder that she graduated from Tzu Chi,” says John David. “I put emphasis on people’s character and Tzu Chi builds character. The values Sophia learned from Tzu Chi were reflected immediately at home, and I think she will carry these values with her into adulthood.”
The classes have been transformative, turning Sophia from a babied little girl to one who shows kindness and respect for others and her surroundings. To her parents’ surprise, she now helps set the table and clears it after meals. When buying gifts for her teachers last Christmas, she kept reminding them to include “Ate (Older Sister) Tere,” the teacher aide who looked after her and her classmates. And when her father opened the faucet, she said, “Daddy, chopsticks,” pointing out that he can conserve water by keeping the faucet’s stream as slim as chopsticks.
“I hope Tzu Chi offers grade school and a full education system,” he says. “The values of the environment, charity, and kindness aren’t usually taught in school. Rarely do we see people with these kinds of values. We in the Philippines should be more like Tzu Chi.”
Aileen Cua got a refund from a school she enrolled her son Marco in when she found out Tzu Chi was opening its own preschool in September 2022. “As a former Tzu Chi Youth, I know the values that Tzu Chi teaches,” she says.
It took only two weeks of preschool classes to instill positive changes in him. Described by his mom as a mischievous boy who threw tantrums whenever he couldn’t find the right words to say, Marco has not only learned to express himself; he’s become respectful to those around him.
“His nanny told me that Marco said ‘thank you’ after she gave him his vitamins,” marvels Aileen. “He also said ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ to his grandfather so he could enter the bathroom to wash his hands.” Marco, who didn’t like sharing with his older brother, now thinks of him first whenever he has extra snacks from a day at the preschool.
Academically, the boy has improved too. He likes studying at home and can write the complete letters of the alphabet legibly and without being forced. He doesn’t need to be prodded to converse in Chinese too.
“Love and care,” says Aileen when asked what it is about Tzu Chi that contributed to her son’s development. “To all the teachers and staff of Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Philippines, thank you for everything you’ve done for Marco, for all the teachings and values you taught my son and his classmates. He has really improved a lot.”
Tzu Chi Great Love Preschool Philippines is open for enrollment for Nursery and Preschool levels. The preschool also offers summer classes for students from other schools who want to try out Tzu Chi’s way of education.