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At Large

Ambassadors of good and goodwill

/ 05:04 AM February 13, 2019

Leaving one’s comfort zone has become a cliché for motivational speakers and self-starters. But what if that comfort zone cushions one in luxury, riches, fame and family? There won’t be any need to leave it, right?

But that’s exactly what two women already enjoying the rewards of public recognition, fulfilling work, generous remuneration and a loving relationship have done—leave their zones of comfort and venture into the unknown and indeed the uncomfortable world of advocacy.

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For their support for the mission of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in the Philippines, actor Anne Curtis and multimedia personality Daphne Oseña Paez were recently conferred the formal title of Unicef National Goodwill Ambassador. Both are longtime advocates, with Paez getting involved with Unicef causes beginning with breastfeeding since 2010, while Curtis was already a “hidden gem” among Unicef’s supporters since 2009, until the agency noticed her advocacy work in her blogs and Instagram posts and asked her to be a public advocate in 2014.

With the conferment of the title, Curtis and Paez join personalities like Gary Valenciano, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Millie Bobby Brown, Jackie Chan, Priyanka Chopra, Ricky Martin, Leo Messi, Liam Neeson, Shakira and Lilly Singh as goodwill ambassadors and “faces and voices” in behalf of the world’s children in need and in trouble. It’s a lofty honor indeed, but one that doesn’t come with any compensation and even demands immense investments in terms of time, effort and heart.

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In a video introducing her to the public, Curtis was shown tearing up as she talked with a sick child and a mother who had just lost her child during a field visit to a public hospital in the Visayas. “You can’t help but share their feelings,” says Curtis, who says her Unicef work has been definitely educational, “especially now that I am transitioning as a wife (she married longtime beau Erwan Heussaff in 2017) and preparing to be an amazing mother.” And should the day come, declares Curtis, “I definitely will breastfeed,” ascribing to her work with Unicef her resolve and her knowledge about what it takes to give one’s child the best preparation for life.

For now, says Lotta Sylwander, Unicef national representative in the country, Curtis has become the “bridge” between the agency and young people, reaching out to teens and millennials (and beyond) through her social media accounts, her gig as a host of noontime TV variety show “It’s Showtime,” and her movies, concerts, advertising work and modeling stints.

Part of her “bridging” work has been participating in local and international marathons as a runner on behalf of Unicef. She has two races on her plate: marathons in London and New York, and the goal of taking part in all six major marathons around the world.

“We are all given our platforms,” says Curtis, “everyone has a soft spot for something. For me, it’s children.”

For Paez, it didn’t take her long or much effort to find her “soft spot” for children, since she already had three girls with newsman husband, Patrick Paez.

The decision to breastfeed her firstborn was born of her belief that doing so was “an act of love that can save a child’s life,” says Paez. So when she was invited by Unicef to be a goodwill ambassador to help push the “First 1,000 Days” law, Paez had no misgiving whatsoever, since breastfeeding promotion was a key advocacy among the measures meant to ensure newborn survival.

Mentioning that she had invited her parents, who both reside in Canada, to be present at the awarding rites, Paez said she wanted them to “see for real that I do good things.” An urban planner by training, Paez visited the Philippines for a project and then found herself in the thick of TV journalism. Today, aside from modeling and endorsement deals, she has her own social media accounts.

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She put this experience to good use when she headlined an online auction of celebrity goods for Unicef, the most successful of which involved the sale of the “Yoda” chair designed by Kenneth Cobonpue for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and used by former US president Barack Obama.

rdavid@inquirer.com.ph

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TAGS: Anne Curtis, At Large, comfort zones, Daphne Oseña Paez, Lotta Sylwander, Rina Jimenez-David, Unicef National Goodwill Ambassador
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