Monday, May 20, 2019

Enchong swims with kids

Enchong Dee during the Ironman last Sunday. In the right photo shows Enchong teaches a girl the basics of swimming during the GoWell GoSwim program of Sun Life Financial. (SunStar Foto/Allan Cuizon)

HE is an actor who reaped praises and awards for his acting skills and some trophies for being an athlete. But there is more to Enchong Dee than accolades. Behind the spotlight is a young man who lives with an advocacy to help children.

SunStar Cebu interviewed the actor over the weekend when Dee was among the participants of Sunday’s Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific 2018.

Last Saturday, Sun Life Financial held a GoWell GoSwim event at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa with Dee and Iñigo Pascual, the son of actor Piolo Pascual.

Dee and Pascual taught children how to swim.

Dee told SunStar Cebu he has his own swimming program called Handog Palangoy ni Enchong. It is because of his love for swimming that he started the project.

Handog Palangoy started three years ago to give children, especially the indigent ones and those with autism, basic swimming lessons and water safety education.

“I always say, ‘Yong Pilipinas, pinalibutan siya ng tubig, yet we don’t have the education; we don’t have a curriculum kung saan tuturuan yung mga Filipinos na lumangoy.’ So sabi ko, parang hindi nagma-match. So sa halip na magrereklamo ako ng magrereklamo, I’m gonna do something about it (The Philippines is surrounded by water, yet we don’t have the education; we don’t have the curriculum to teach Filipinos how to swim. So I said, it doesn’t match. But instead of complaining about it, I’m gonna do something about it),” said Dee on how his program started.

It was his coach in swimming who inspired him to start the program. He said that his coach kept on encouraging him to start a project that can influence and encourage people to teach children how to swim. Yet, he used to reject the idea because of his busy schedule.

“And then one day, I was in London when I got a text that he (the coach) passed away. So no’ng time na ‘yon, sabi ko (So at that time, I told myself), ‘I want to do something for him,’” Dee shared.

The Bicolano actor started swimming when he was just six years old. His parents would literally throw him into the water. He said that he enjoyed it so much and since then, he stepped up and did competitive swimming. He later became part of the Naga City swimming team.

Dee also remembered being inspired by former Olympian Akiko Thomson, who once shared her swimming experiences with the Naga City swimming team. That was when “The Blood Sisters” actor decided to really pursue swimming.

“I said, ‘You know what? Let’s do it. Let’s represent this country.’ I mean, we have this news about the Philippines in any angle, mostly bad, but if you have kids like my age or kids younger than me who could represent our country in a brighter light, then let’s do it. So I said, ‘You know what? I’ll train properly. I’ll train hard. I’ll inspire people and just do it for the country,’” said Dee.

Inspired by Thomson and the other national swimmers who used to meet his swim team and do a lecture, that is exactly what Dee is doing through the Handog Palangoy program.

At least two children have already approached him to inform the actor that they are pursuing swimming.

He is touring over six cities in the Philippines for Handog Palangoy. He admitted, though, that he could only go to places within or near Metro Manila like Dagupan, Pateros, Batangas and Laguna due to budgetary constraints.

Dee also has another life goal: to swim in the Pasig River.

To do that, the river has to be cleaned first, which is an ongoing project by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as the local government units covered by the Pasig River.

“I want to show to the people that we can swim again in the Pasig River,” said Dee.

The project was organized seven years ago, but until now it has not been realized because every time the river is cleaned by the DENR, it quickly gets dirty again, observed Dee.

Aside from his goal to swim in the Pasig River, some of the things in Dee’s bucket list include doing the full Ironman. Sun Life participated in the Ironman relay where Dee represented the insurance company in the swim leg. Dee also wants to join international marathons.

Another thing that makes the actor busy is writing. Recently, he wrote a book entitled “Basta Trip Mo.” It is a book that shows his travel experiences, encouraging people to travel with their family, with their friends, or even by themselves.

After his teleserye, “The Blood Sisters,” which is now on its last two weeks, wraps, Dee said he wants to do a movie. Star Cinema offered him a part in an upcoming movie, which he is interested in because the theme is something he has never explored before.

With so many other young artists threatening to take his spot in show business, how does Dee keep himself relevant?

“You have to focus on yourself because if I will start looking at the younger ones coming in, baka mapraning na ako (I might go crazy),” Dee said. “And I think, you just really have to be good at what you’re doing. You always have to remember what you’re here for.”


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