Miss Universe Philippines 2020 candidate Tracy Maureen Perez of Cebu City considers herself a miracle baby. She was extreme preterm – born at just six months – that she could easily fit in a shoe box.
Her mom was diagnosed as unable to bear a child and will only live until 30. But interestingly, she delivered Tracy at the age of 32.
Her late mom lived until 49.
There were times when Tracy would question herself why she was born and what greater purpose she has in this world. She found one during her growing-up years – to be an instrument for others in living better lives.
Tracy advocates for equal access to quality education. Ever since she was a kid, she has always valued and enjoyed learning. It gives her a sense of fulfillment knowing that she is skillful and knowledgeable about something. This she equates with being recognized as someone successful in the future. Having grown up in Mindanao and moving to a province in Cebu during High School, education was not that expensive. They were happy with simple living and managed to get by. During college, she was lucky enough to be supported and sent to the best university in Cebu. However, she was only 17 when her mom passed away. Uncertainties followed as to the direction of her academic plans.
But with the help of relatives, she graduated as an Industrial Engineer. Without receiving their help, it would have been close to impossible to even finish school. From then on, she promised to work hard so she can be the same person to others – someone who helps them finish their education and reach for their dreams.
As for her usefulness during quarantine, Tracy flew home to Cebu days before the lockdown in Manila. When her province was also placed on ECQ soon after, she spent her time working online for a US company. Family togetherness was at its peak as well inspite of financial constraints in weekly budget. Inspite of that, she was still able to do volunteer work from home – as a backliner for Bayanihan Mission which aims to help neighbors to stay off the streets by providing them food supplies and necessities.
The past two months were reflective periods for Tracy. And this gave her an extra kick of motivation to push more for her cause as soon as the new normal is in place.