From the great vow of creating a huge impact in changing the lives and molding the minds and hearts of the youth, Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines held its first ever Filipino Tzu Chi Youth Still Thoughts (Jing Si) Life Camp which was attended by 332 participants with ages 12 to 25 from Marikina City and Quezon City, May 22-23, 2010 at the foundation’s two offices, the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus (TCGLC) and Still Thoughts (Jing Si) Hall.
The 1st Jing Si life camp
For the first time in Philippines, a local Tzu Ching Jing Si Life Camp is being held for 332 teenagers who are mainly from Marikina City. Inspired by continuous love, the survivors of Typhoon Ketsana have become volunteers and are now bringing their children to join the circle of love. Tzu Ching camp attendee, Paul Denessee Granada: "My parents are both Tzu Chi volunteers. I want to repay them and share the love with others. "
As lunch time was nearing, a Tzu Chi volunteer showed the participants the proper way of using bowls and chopsticks, one of the many cultures in Tzu Chi. The participants practiced what they learned about bowls and chopsticks during lunch time where vegetarian dishes were served.
Volunteers explained that cooking vegetarian meals and being vegetarian is part of Tzu Chi culture that is in line with the important teaching of Buddhism in eliminating of desires and of preventing taking of lives of animals. This is also one of the efforts of Tzu Chi Foundation in lessening the production of carbon dioxide and methane gas; and also to conserve and protect the environment.
After watching the video clips about killing of farm animals like chickens, pigs and cows for human consumption, Mabalhin was inspired to do one special act to make a change. "I am not fond of eating vegetables. When I saw how they (farmed animals) are slaughtered and killed to provide food for humans, I pitied them because if we think hard enough, they are like brothers and sisters to us. From now on, I will lessen my meat intake and I will eat more vegetables."
While 16-year-old Nangka resident Jerizza Pepito shared that "The food is delicious! I learned that you can also incorporate art in cooking vegetables so that it would taste good. I did not know that vegetables could be cooked deliciously. I realized they are not just plain vegetables, they are also very nutritious."
The Publication staff of Tzu Chi Foundation conducted the lecture by showing video clips of the people who are suffering from sickness or who are living an impoverished life. To make the youth realize their blessings, the staff prepared a simple activity where each participant received a small card and a one-centimeter pencil lead which they used to wrote down five blessings that they have in life for five minutes.
Through this activity they felt the hardship of an impoverished student who truly conserves the little blessing she has by using a one centimeter pencil lead everyday in order to write the lectures in her school. Moreover, each one was reminded to be thankful that they could still go to school albeit coming from a family with a modest financial means.
As the participants have come to realize their blessings, the staff asked the youth for a moment of prayer of gratitude. It was followed by an invitation to each one to share their blessings to other people in need through giving some coins to the Tzu Chi coin cans. A total of PhP1, 140.85 was collected for the foundation’s Educational Assistance Program for needy but deserving students from Marikina.
One thing in life that cannot wait
"True filial piety is not only providing material comfort but also showing respect and obedience to our parents." -Still Thoughts from Master Cheng Yen
Chief Executive Officer Alfredo Li shared that his parents died from a fire that burned their house down. This episode in his life was very painful to Mr. Li because he was not able to fully express his love for his parents which he really regrets. "So while your parents are still with you, show them your appreciation and love. Don’t let time pass by without doing so, or it will be too late. Even just through simple things that you can do for them like telling them how much you love them, I assure you that they will be delighted," Mr. Li encouraged the youth.
Paul Denesee Granada, 20, also one of the participants who used to pay no appreciation for the efforts of his parents, was touched when he heard the personal experiences of the speakers. "I realized that they (parents) are sacrificing a lot for my studies. Now, I would like to thank them because no matter what happened and in spite of the faults I made, I still feel their love for me."
In paying back these sacrifices, Granada shared that he is trying his best to look for a job and support his education to ease the burden of his parents. As his parents who are local volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation, he also promised to cooperate in spreading the seeds of love. "They (parents) are also volunteers of the foundation and, as a way to repay all the things they did for me, I will help in giving love to others. This is also a way to lessen the burden in my chest and help my parents."
A new day, a new reflection
While the sun was slowly rising in the sky, the youth participants and all Tzu Chi volunteers, Tzu Chi Youth, local volunteers and staff had already gathered to get ready for the walkathon from the TCGLC heading to the place that serves as spiritual haven of Tzu Chi Philippines, the Still Thoughts Hall in Quezon City.
The walkathon aims to reduce carbon emissions that are destructive to the earth’s ozone layer; serve as morning exercise for the camp participants; and give each one of them a chance to reflect on their lives and realizations.
The Tzu Chi Youth Still Thoughts Life Camp concluded through a sincere prayer headed by Tzu Chi volunteers. They prayed that the camp may serve as an inspiration for each young participant to purify their minds and hearts. Volunteers also wished that this camp may open the hearts of everyone to compassion by praying that the suffering and pain of people who befell victims to different calamities around the world may be alleviated.
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