Katarina Rodriguez Is The First Ambassadress Of Save The Children Philippines
"I didn't really want to be a mom, not until maybe three or four years ago... From wanting to be an independent, empowered woman which a lot of female millennials want nowadays, I wanted to be a mom. But I promised myself one thing: I wouldn’t have my own children until I made a big difference in at least one other child’s life," Miss Intercontinental 2017 1st Runner-Up and Miss World Philippines 2018 Katarina Rodriguez shared during her heartwarming speech yesterday at the celebration of Save the Children's 100th year held in Crowne Plaza Hotel.
It was a memorable trip to Marawi City in Mindanao that served as an eye-opening experience for this beauty queen. As part of the Miss World competition, each candidate was required to come up with a video presentation that highlights their advocacy for the organization's charity arm, Beauty With a Purpose. Katarina chose Project Become, which "invests in the future of Marawi by investing in its children." By helping build infrastructures such as classrooms, investing in the educators, and providing instruction materials for the children, she believes that peace and progress in Marawi can ultimately be achieved.
On this experience, Katarina said, "It was the first time I understood what it was like to 100% see what’s right in front of you. It changed my life, it changed my perspective, my priorities, my goals, and I wanted to be the voice for the children in the city."
The video, however, was disqualified because of certain guidelines Katarina didn't know about. This broke her heart and made her feel like a failure. She said, “This is my whole heart. Everything I am has been put into this project and into this dream. I guarantee I will only ever speak and show the truth and this video does exactly that. It hurt me that I did not qualify for BWAP more than anything else has in the past because I wanted the world to see what war and violence does to real life people.”
But after returning to Manila from Sanya, China where the Miss World 2018 pageant was held, Katarina was welcomed with a great news that re-energized her to champion the causes she's passionate about: Save the Children Philippines reached out to her and expressed their desire to work with her as their first-ever ambassadress. No words can exactly describe how happy she felt, knowing that there are people who have faith in her and her dream to make a change.
Save the Children was established in the United Kingdom in 1919 and founded by Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton. The organization aims to improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities in 120 countries; it also provides protection for children and humanitarian response when natural disasters, wars, and other conflicts strike. In the Philippines, Save the Children has been around for over three decades now.
In line with the 100th year of Save the Children, the organization launched a centenary campaign and a global movement called "Stop the War on Children," which is aimed at raising awareness on the situation of 420 million children living in conflict zones across the world, including those in Mindanao.
As part of these efforts, Katarina and Save the Children Philippines are also advocating for the implementation of Republic Act 11188 or the "Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act" which was signed into law on January 10, 2019. Under the new law, children are declared as "zones of peace," and should be protected from all forms of abuse and violence.
"We look at children not just as victims of war and conflict but also as champions of peace," Katarina shared. "It’s really inspiring how resilient these children are and how positive their outlook is."
Aside from being the first Save the Children Philippines ambassadress, Katarina is also a peace advocate who has worked with and for other organizations geared toward children's welfare, such as Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid, Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, and Grom Nation.
Photos from @katarinarodri