A vision of compassion in action


One’s eyes could only widen in wonder at how the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation keeps the noble teaching of the Venerable Master Cheng Yen alive.

The Taiwanese humanitarian organization is truly a vision of compassion in action — a tenet that Yen acquired from wisdom passed on through generations of humankind since the beginning of time.

In March 2016, Tzu Chi Foundation’s Eye Center in 1000 Cordillera corner Lubiran St., Bacood, Sta. Mesa, Manila, became the first NGO-owned medical center in the Philippines with state-of-the-art optical equipment for charity services.

“Tzu Chi Foundation in the Philippines is unique compared to the others around the world as we started doing medical missions because that is the need of the time. Tzu Chi always starts with charity cases,” Alfredo Li, chief executive officer of the Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines, told Daily Tribune.

Staffed by Tzu Chi International Medical Association doctors, the Tzu Chi Eye Center operates on pedia, adult strabismus, diagnostic tests, and glaucoma every Tuesday; orbit/oculoplasty on Wednesday; glaucoma and retina on Thursday; and general clinic (cataract etc.) on Friday.

Testimonials from the heart

Due to throbbing pain, 73-year-old Rolando Orbizo from Bagong Silang, Caloocan, had his right eye checked during a medical mission by Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines before the pandemic. As more symptoms developed over the years, Orbizo’s glaucoma unfortunately progressed.

“‘Yung pressure ng mata mo tumataas. Hindi ako makatingin hanggang sa inoperahan na nga ‘yung kanang mata ko (The pressure on the eyes was increasing. I couldn’t clearly see until my right eye was operated on),” he said.

His left eye also underwent laser treatment. He was back last week at Tzu Chi for a follow-up checkup.

“Tuloy-tuloy ang gamutan sa aking mata hanggang ngayon. Seven years na. Talagang tumutulong sila. Maganda ang serbisyo at ang kanilang patakaran. Tanggap nila kung ano ka man. ‘Yung pagtrato nila sa ’yo ay okay din, simula sa mga nurse, doctor at attendants (Treatment continues until now. It’s been seven years. Their service is good, as well as their standards. They treat people well, from the nurses and doctors to the attendants),” Orbizo shared.

Luisa Gonzales, 77, from Tañong, Malabon, was a domestic helper in Hong Kong from 1992 until 1995. What she thought at first was “puwing” (eye strain) was something much worse.

“Nung medyo nagtagal lumalaki na siya. Pinabayaan ko lang. Hindi sinasadya na may kakilala akong nagsabi na baka glaucoma. Magpa-checkup daw ako kasi nakakabulag. Ni-refer nila ako sa Tzu Chi. Nakuha ko ‘yun noong naglilinis ako. Hindi sinasadya na napisikan ng panglinis ng salamin ‘yung mata ko (Then later it became swollen. I ignored it at first until a friend told me that it could be glaucoma. I should have it checked or I might go blind. I was referred to Tzu Chi. I got this while cleaning. I accidentally sprayed window cleaner into my eyes),” she said.

Tzu Chi Foundation’s Eye Center is located at 1000 Cordillera corner Lubiran St., Bacood, Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Due to her condition, Gonzales is exasperated that she feels different than her normal self.

“My eyes hurt, too, sometimes. Nanghihinayang ako kasi hindi ako makapag-lakad ng maayos (I regret it because I couldn’t walk properly),” she said.
With Tzu Chi, Gonzales remains hopeful of a better tomorrow for her eyes.

“Before Tzu Chi, I paid so much for a checkup. It’s a struggle because I don’t even have a job. My husband died, too. I’m just happy with Tzu Chi Foundation kasi ang babait nila at very accommodating (They are so kind and very accommodating). Kailangan lang talaga na matiyaga ka kasi hindi lang naman ikaw ang pasyente dito. Salamat sa Tzu Chi (You just need to wait because there are other patients here).”

Benjamin Pabilandro, 50, from Pineda, Pasig City, was working at a construction site when he developed cataract in his eyes.

“Baka doon ko nakuha ito, sa smoke daw kasi. Inabot na po ng four years ito dahil nag-pandemic. 2019 pina-checkup ko na, nahinto lang dahil lockdown. Ngayon lang namin naasikaso. Mahirap kasi blurred ‘yung nakikita ko, cloudy. Both eyes pa (Maybe I got it from there, because of the smoke. It took me four years because of the pandemic. I started my check-ups in 2019 but because of the lockdown it was stopped. I only got around to have it checked now. It’s hard because my sight is blurred, cloudy. On both eyes at that),” he said.

His right eye went through treatment first at Tzu Chi. He’s still waiting for the schedule of the other.

“Magbibigay lang sila ng mga kailangang isubmit, magtetext sila for another schedule. Bago ako naoperahan, two to three times lang kami bumalik at 30 minutes lang ang naging operation (They will send a list of requirements, then they will text you the schedule. Before I got finally operated on, it only took me two to three times to come back here. The operation only took 30 minutes).”

Despite his condition, Pabilandro remains grateful to Tzu Chi for being congenial and welcoming to people in need.

In 1991, Dharma Master Cheng Yen was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay for Community Leadership. Prize money was donated to China flood victims and Mt. Pinatubo lahar casualties.

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