DUBAI: An Abu Dhabi-based emergency medical technician (EMT), who became the first Filipino male triathlete to finish the recently held Ultraman Florida 2019, has, through prodding by the Philippine Consulate, entered his bid to win Citizen’s advocacy campaign dubbed “#MyBetterStartsNow.”
Romeo III T. Puncia said he will use the Dh25,000 prize to build a youth center in Palawan as well as buy medical supplies and hold educational, sports and feeding programs for the tribal communities of the island.
It all goes back to 2005 for Puncia when a friend encouraged him to spend time volunteering and working with the tribal communities of Palawan. “Little did I know that this decision would give me an eye-opening experience that exposed me to a new way of life. I believe this is was the beginning of My Better Starts Now moment,” Puncia said.
“People of that region lead a fairly simple lifestyle, which I fell in love with. This was also when I recognized the urgent need those people had for educational services and medical supplies, which is why I resolved to visit this place once every year to hold feeding programs as well as provide them with leadership training and keep them up to date with current events,” he added.
At present the project is run mainly by himself supported by a group of college friends who volunteer their time.
“Whenever I visit the Philippines I’m joined by my circle of friends who go out to Palawan to help hand out supplies and volunteer in executing other activities. We are effectively helping over 10 tribal communities in the Palawan region, consisting of over 1000 people,” said Puncia, who has been given an award for his deed during last year’s Philippine Independence Day celebrations.
“The Consulate General thought my story/initiative was quite unique in the sense that it focused on charity that deserved recognition and was inspirational. Therefore, when Citizen’s My Better Starts Now contest was announced on The Filipino Times platform, I was forwarded the link by the Consulate General and encouraged to take part,” he narrated.
Citizen’s #MyBetterStartsNow contest, which was recently launched, encourages people with inspiring stories to come forward and share them. Three inspiring stories will have the chance to win Dh25,000, supported by Citizen to further their initiative.
“If I am chosen to win the Dh25,000 cash prize, I will build a youth center in Palawan, and purchase medical supplies for tribal communities, hold educational programs as well as other programs including sports and feeding.
“It would also be nice to organize the first Tribal Sports Festival for the indigenous people of the region since they also love sports. We’re in need of fund for these programs. I pray that I will be chosen or considered for this so that we can achieve and execute the programs,” Puncia said.