Dubai: A 10-year-old easily warmed the hearts of both the judges and the audience through her rendition of her self-taught interpretation of What Makes You Beautiful by the English-Irish boy band One Direction on Friday.
But, instead of pocketing the entire prize money of Dhs1,500 cash prize, Michelle Samala Pudda of St Mary’s Catholic School in Dubai immediately donated Dhs500 to the scholarship fund of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association-UAE (UPAA-UAE) Chapter.
“I just want to share,” the Filipino-Italian, the youngest among three children told The Gulf Today.
“Nope, I would not use my Dhs1,000 for shopping. I would like to save it,” she added.
On Friday, Pudda, in her own version of Little Miss Santa, was the youngest participant at the second edition of Yan ang Boses (The Voice) contest of the UPAA-UAE.
Held for the second consecutive year and in time for the Christmas party of the UPAA-UAE, the contest is to “generate awareness as well as support for two scholarship programmes” to one of the largest Filipino organisations in the country with 300 students on its rolls.
Apart from being the youngest contestant — the others being UPAA-UAE members or friends - Pudda was the only one who sang without the help of the karaoke because she strummed the guitar.
According to UPAA-UAE president Janice Ong, they are now funding the four-year BS Accountancy course of Jaymar Santillan, a freshman enrolled at the UP-Visayas campus located in the Western Visayan province of Iloilo in Central Philippines.
Their first Adopt-A Scholar beneficiary, Sheara Jane Jalamuddin, earned her BS Biology degree from the UP-Mindanao campus in Davao City, Southern Mindanao, two years ago.
UPAA-UAE also has its Endowment Fund for their future scholars who are selected by the UP Office of Student Services and Scholarship.
Beneficiaries of its 2012 Lapis, Papel, Aklat at Iba Pa (pencil, paper and books among others) project are the pupils of the Calauan Elementary School in the Southern Tagalog province of Laguna in Southern Luzon.
UP is the first public school system and one of the largest universities in the Philippines wherein all of its students are known as ìmga iskolar ng bayanî (the country’s scholars) as their fee is subsidised by the national government.
While the university is a mix of the rich, the middle class and the poor, all of the students are reared in the spirit of community service and spirit of volunteerism.
Hence, just like any UP alumni association, the UPAA-UAE is giving back what its members had enjoyed as students and provides the same to those who are poor but deserving.