Michael Siao and Alfredo Li of Tzu Chi Philippines
MANILA - By providing work for the victims of typhoon “Yolanda,” Tzu Chi Philippines’ efforts in providing a ‘cash-for-work’ scheme helped revive the economy in Tacloban, Leyte, including cleaning up the state university campus in 2 hours.
In an interview on DZMM’s ‘Failon Ngayon,’ brothers Alfredo Li and Michael Siao of Tzu Chi Philippines shared how they were able to collect funds from their members to help typhoon victims in Tacloban.
According to Li, the founder of the Tzu Chi Foundation Master Cheng Yen said the goal of cash-for-work was not to provide doleouts.
"Ibangon natin ang Tacloban through cash-for-work. The minimum wage was P260 per day, but can we give them 300? Sabi nya, ‘Hindi pwede… Let us give them P500. Please emphasize na hindi ito sweldo. Ito ay relief funds.’”
When asked why they chose cash-for-work, they said it gave dignity to those who worked with them and opened a way for stores and shops to run their businesses again.
“Why nagbigay ng cash? First, when we let them work, luminis ang kapaligiran natin. Second, ang mga tao who receive this money...dumaan [ito] sa kanilang pawis. Ang pinaka-importante, at the end of the day, they go to the market…. After two days palang, nagbukas na ang mga tindahan,” Li said.
The cash given out were distributed according to the number of members per family. For 2 members, P8,000; for 3 members, P12,000, and for at least 5 in a family, P15,000.
With 1,000 workers from the cash-for-work initiative by Tzu Chi Philippines, University of the Philippines Tacloban was cleaned within two hours.
When asked how funds were collected, Siao said they asked members from other countries for donations, and gave their thanks with a 90-degree bow.
“It was a challenge. We invited the barangay chairmen to meet with us to tell them the mechanics. We went to the streets in 46 countries, saying ‘Sir, ma’am, konting tulong lang.’ [Then did] a 90-degree bow for every donation to say thank you.”
Li said that the donation they received in the Philippines was a lot, but it still was not enough given the gravity of the situation in Yolanda-affected areas.