At first glance, you might think that this Miss Universe Philippines 2020 candidate is a tall, young socialite who walks in malls on her stilleto heels and does lunch with other ladies of privileged lifestyles. But don’t be fooled. Paula Madarieta Ortega of Albay is as down-to-earth as she can be – with the fusion of Spanish and Bicolano accent the moment she speaks.
Interesting fact: Paula loved Biology and Genetics so much that she studied to become a Medical Laboratory Technician first. She successfully became one. But after realizing that being stuck inside a lab is not her idea of a fulfilling work, she enrolled at the University of Barcelona and took up Nursing. Caring for and interacting with people is how she feels accomplished. And it is from here where the roots of her advocacy started growing. Universal healthcare is the model she believes in, and what the world should aim for.With the current COVID19 health crisis, Paula realized how the country’s health system is not ready yet. And this is why she volunteered her services at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital and other hospitals in Albay prior to the strict lockdown in Manila. She wants people to know that she is a Nurse and to be seen giving support in medical facilities.
“Besides being a spokesperson and caretaker for Healthcare, I want to emphasize that healthcare is not only about access to hospitals when you are sick. My plan is to promote correct practices to be healthy so not to get sick easily. My wish is for people to have a full life with less physical or mental limitations. That is why simple actions like teaching or reminding people how to have correct hygiene at home, correct cleaning protocols, understanding what is healthy nutrition for children, or the practice of physical exercise for everyone, are all part of my advocacy as well. Basic health practices are the foundation of a healthy society.” said Paula
If only Paula is a Registered Nurse in the Philippines, she knows that she could have done a lot more in this pandemic crisis. She found ways of collaborating with the healthcare system through online platforms. She has been helping her province – through the initiative of Jojo Bragais – that provided materials (such as alcohol, masks, gloves and other PPEs) to the frontliners in Albay. Using personal savings, she also donated through the online platform “Go Get Funding” and other causes she supports like “Meals for covid-19 healthcare frontliners”, “Caritas Philippines” and “JCI Greenfield Philippines”.
“I will be honest and not brag or lie about being a frontliner by profession, as I did not have the means or chance to practice it this time. I really had a hard time accepting this, as many times I felt frustrated and anxious because it is part of my inner core to help others. I really do mean this, -I have reached out to people I know, suggesting to volunteer in the hospitals in Bicol, as I could stay in our family house there, but the lockdown is strict and I was trapped in Manila.”