July 4, 2023
Tzu Chi Philippines inaugurates Pampanga office
By Ben Baquilod
Tzu Chi volunteers, dignitaries, and guests came together for the inauguration of the Tzu Chi Pampanga office on July 2 in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The celebration began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by the signing of usufruct agreement that grants the free use of Tzu Chi Pampanga office, located at 105 Mitchell Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City, for a minimum of 25 years. The signing was led by Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez and property owner representatives, attorneys-in-fact Rong Mou Lou and Qiaoyuan Shi.
“Thank you for joining us on this momentous occasion. I hope that through our harmonious cooperation, we will be able to touch more lives and inspire more hearts to relieve the sufferings of our brothers and sisters here in Pampanga,” said CEO Yuñez.
Among the esteemed guests in attendance were Executive Director of Tzu Chi Global Volunteer Affairs, Stephen Huang, and Ambassador Francis Chua.
Tzu Chi volunteers and guests from Manila and Cebu also attended the event to show their support. “I’m thrilled to be here. I was teary-eyed when Sister Pansy Ho was speaking and I felt very inspired by what they achieved in such a short time,” said Cebu volunteer Leonida Gaerlan, praising the work of Pampanga volunteers.
The expansion of Tzu Chi’ mission in Pampanga began when Pansy Ho and her husband Vincent were introduced to Tzu Chi in 2012 through a charity bazaar. After meeting CEO Yuñez and learning more about the foundation’s charitable work, the couple attended an entrepreneur’s camp in Taiwan in April 2013 and met Tzu Chi founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen.
“When I met Master, my life changed forever,” said Pansy. “I was inspired to take on more responsibilities.”
Upon returning home, they immediately joined volunteer training and were certified as commissioners thereafter. “Before I knew Tzu Chi, I had a bad habit of buying expensive things and traveling abroad every year. But Master Cheng Yen inspired me to adopt a simple lifestyle and instead help those in need.”
In the subsequent years, Pansy and Vincent recruited more volunteers in Angeles and carried out rice distributions and relief efforts for underprivileged communities and indigenous peoples in Pampanga. In December 2022, they initiated a scholarship program with 15 students from Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU).
“When Tzu Chi approached Pampanga State Agricultural University, we were overjoyed,” said PSAU President Dr. Anita David. “And I am delighted to see that these 15 young men and women have become better individuals thanks to Tzu Chi Pampanga.”
Juliana Cabalatuan, a third-year BS Entrepreneurship student, testified to the positive impact that Tzu Chi scholarship has had on her life. Having lost her father at the age of 4 and her mother at 6, she had no one to rely on except her older brother, who struggled to make ends meet with seasonal blue-collar jobs. "My life was filled with darkness, and I had no guidance. Then, Tzu Chi became the light that showed me hope."
"As a Tzu Chi scholar, they provided me with financial assistance, and I also gained valuable life lessons through our monthly humanities class," said Juliana. "My fellow scholars and I are extremely happy that Tzu Chi now has an office here in Pampanga. This means they can help more people like me."
Students like Julianna serve as motivation for Pansy Ho to continue expanding their selfless work in Pampanga, especially now that they have a headquarters for all their humanitarian efforts in the province.
"I want to express my deepest gratitude to Master Cheng Yen because without her virtues and blessings, our Pampanga office would not have become a reality," said Pansy. "My vow is to protect our home here in Pampanga until the end of my days."