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Aug 21st
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Goodbye with Gratitude and Sincere Piety - Million grains of rice make a bushel; million drops of water make a river

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Goodbye with Gratitude and Sincere Piety
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 Million grains of rice make a bushel; million drops of water make a river
Among the attendees of the day’s event were residents of Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City who was aided by Tzu Chi after suffering from both flood and fire disasters during typhoon ‘Ondoy’s’ onslaught on September 26.

Tzu Chi volunteers were the first to help them the day after the disasters by providing them hot meals and other material necessities like footwear and clothes. Tzu Chi furthered its relief efforts in the Tatalon community by distributing relief supplies and cash assistance to hundreds of families and reinforcing clean-up operations in the entire neighbourhood.

Tzu Chi volunteers, however, were the ones much grateful for the residents of Tatalon who gave them a surprise visit during Tzu Chi Philippines’ 15th anniversary celebration. Nearly 200 Tatalon residents set out on foot to the nearby Tzu Chi office that day of November 8 to give the coin cans they had previously adopted.

Despite their recent miseries, the residents of Tatalon displayed their selflessness and kindness through the coins they have saved up to donate to Tzu Chi. Their donations amounted to Php34,000 (USD733).

“That day was truly unforgettable. That was the first time in 15 years that we received such a meaningful gift. You made all of us Tzu Chi volunteers really happy,” one Tzu Chi volunteer happily said.

Ruth Gonzales, 30, was among those 200 people from Barangay Tatalon who gave donations to Tzu Chi in its 15th anniversary celebration. Gonzales was very delighted to hear the Tzu Chi volunteer’s remark and proudly stood up when they were called by the volunteer in the middle of his speech.

"I am happy. It feels really good to give help to others. It’s our way of paying forward the support we received from Tzu Chi. Even though we were not able to equal the large scale of aid that Tzu Chi provided us, I know that our small contributions will add up to a large amount and will be able to give help to many people in need,” Gonzales, a mother of two, said.

According to Gonzales, the timely aid that Tzu Chi gave the day after the storm has really helped them start their life. She said that they used the money she got to buy her children their needs for school as all of their possessions have been washed away along with their house. She added that the relief items such as thermal blanket, sleeping mat and other household needs were truly useful in such time when they had to sleep outside for a month.

"I am very thankful for the prompt aid that you (Tzu Chi) have offered. The things you gave proved to be beneficial as we were really penniless at that time. Here in Tzu Chi, I witnessed that there is no racial and religious prejudices and they do not choose the people they help. While others discriminate people who have different religious faith from theirs, Tzu Chi disregards differences and just helps all the people in need. Whatever your skin color, social status or religion is, Tzu Chi’s respect is always there that is why Tzu Chi is really the best,” Gonzales, a follower of Jehovah’s Witness faith, tearfully said.

Gonzales had even brought two coin cans that day to be given to Tzu Chi. She said that she and her husband deposit not just 25 centavos but several peso coins everyday.

"The Master said that by dropping a coin everyday, you are doing one act of goodness,” Gonzales explained.

Tzu Chi volunteers then proceeded to hand out red envelop of blessing and wisdom to the attendees. These red packets are Master Cheng Yen’s blessing of wisdom to the public. Each packet contains an image of the Buddha, which symbolizes inspiration and reminder to take care of the environment; six grains of rice that represent the Six Paramitas or ways of practicing the dharma, which according to Buddhist teachings, are the traits a person must have in order to attain the mind’s purity; and a one-peso coin that embody the affinity between the Tzu Chi volunteers and their beneficiaries, donors and friends.

"I will treasure this and use this as an inspiration in helping my fellow-being,” Gonzales said.

Before receiving her red envelop, Lita Mergano was among the hundreds of people who lined up to pour their donations into the two jars placed at the center of the auditorium.

Mergano is a 60-year-old lady who lives alone in a small shanty in Barangay Escopa, Quezon City. Her husband was killed by their drug-addict son in 2008, the latter being in Quezon City Jail at present. Their youngest daughter was also addicted to drugs and has committed suicide years ago whereas their two daughters are both married and residing in Cebu and Pangasinan.

In December 2008, Mergano was bumped by a jeepney and sustained injuries in her head and foot. Her injuries were treated but she was not able to sustain her medications because of her poverty.

Mergano earns a living by buying and selling marked up old shoes but this small business does not give her regular income. In early 2009, Tzu Chi adopted her as a long-term care recipient and is given multivitamins, 10 kilos of rice and cash allowance of Php1,000 monthly.

Despite her meagre income, Mergano is still able to put as much as Php500 (USD10.7) worth of coins in her Tzu Chi coin bank.

"When Tzu Chi helps me, they do so without any qualms. That is why I also don’t have regrets when I give help to others by saving up coins in the coin bank,” Mergano said.

"I am very thankful to Tzu Chi because they saved my life. The help they are giving me is really of great value. I pray that Tzu Chi will grow even bigger and that my life will extend so that I could help other people,” Mergano said.