Romeo lll T Puncia (second from left), one of the five winners, receives his award from Paul Raymund Cortes (third from left) during he Bayanihan Festival 2018 in Dubai yesterday. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Filipinos in the UAE should exemplify the spirit of Bayanihan or communal unity this Christmas and all year round for the younger overseas Filipinos to emulate, a diplomat on Friday said.

Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes encouraged his compatriots to demonstrate the essence of Bayanihan, a Filipino tradition that depicts collective cooperative heroism for a common cause, during the Bayanihan Festival 2018 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“The Bayanihan is a perfect example of how we can bond together, collaborate and partner despite differences in opinion and perspectives … beyond the difficulties and challenges, for so long as we bond our efforts and vision and purpose, nothing can break our spirits,” Cortes told the crowd.

“And this is exactly what Bayanihan means. We are trying to show the rest of the community and more especially, our younger overseas Filipinos, what it means to have a united Filipino community. Remember, our responsibility is not to impress each one. Our greater responsibility is to show the second generation Filipinos that they have a model — our generation — to emulate.”

Worth emulating as well were the five recipients of the Dakilang Bayani Award 2018 (Noble Hero), the highest recognition given by the Philippine consulate to notable Filipinos who have rendered selfless service to the community in various fields.

Romeo III Puncia, one of the awardees, is an emergency medical technician in Abu Dhabi who “races for a purpose”, which is to serve indigenous peoples in Palawan, a province in southern Philippines.

“My wife and I save almost 20 per cent of our monthly income to help the community once or twice a year. I make sure to serve the tribal community through medical missions and sports trainings because they need it the most,” Puncia told Gulf News.

“In the future, we hope to build recreational facilities, auditorium, and schools for them.”

Another awardee was Sheryll Bacay-Agbing, an HR business partner in Abu Dhabi who has an Adopt-a-farm advocacy in southern Philippines.

She said: “We don’t need to have an award to serve the community but if you are given one, it’s an additional recognition and it’s a privilege and honour.”

Bacay-Agbing and her partners have adopted almost 156 hectares of farm land in the Philippines and connected Filipinos in Dubai with underprivileged farmers to support the agriculture sector in the country.

“OFWs here who invest in the project feel a sense of pride and compassion and the virtue of being able to help the farmers in Mindanao. It’s a 360-degree value chain and more than 36 families of farmers are benefiting.”

The other awardees were Dr Sharon Mendoza-Dreisbach, Assistant Professor at Skyline University College and cancer survivor, Jenny Gonzales, the HR manager of United International Private School, and Jose Reynante Papel, Shopper and Customer Marketing Specialist Manager — Unilever Gulf.

Eight students from various schools were also recognised as ‘Huwarang Estudyante 2018’ (model students). They were Jose Lorenzo Barbara, Christine Janel Sora, Irish Paula Tinaja, Jemaimah Shyn Aludino, Mary Angeleica Gella, John Kenji Perez Roxas, Cyrill Kiersten Cecillano, and Mariae Marseille Pornan.

Several community activities were also held featuring Filipino culture and heritage and love for music and arts such as the Christmas Lantern Making contest, Singing Contest, Cosplay, and many more.