999Bottles has attracted the attention and support of hundreds of people from all over the world. One of our most vocal supporters is Jonathan Eric Defante, who was selected as a 2011 United Nations Citizen Ambassador for his change-inspiring video Changing the World, One Bottle at a Time. A native of The Philippines, Jonathan currently lives in Dubai. But not for long—he is planning to go to Guatemala and help build a classroom out of used plastic bottles.
We sat down with Jonathan last week to learn more about what inspired him to do the video and what lies ahead for him.
Tell us about yourself. How did you become a UN Citizen Ambassador? What did you do before and how has this honor changed your life?
I graduated in Mapua Institute of Technology back in Oct 2009, under the program of Electronics Engineering. I worked as a high-school teacher for about a year. I was 21 back then and in 2011 tried finding work here in Dubai. It was around August that I had the chance to stumble upon a website citing that it was World Humanitarian Day and then the UN had this contest for the Citizen Ambassador. I checked out couple of the previous videos and then I felt that I could do it as well. I had a whole week off before I started my new job as a sales associate in Virgin Megastore and so I used that time to create the video and deliver the idea into a 30-second pitch.
I got a call from New York early October informing me that I qualified to the Top 20 and then, the next day, that I was selected as one of the three Ambassadors, out of more than 500 entries worldwide. Limitless opportunities opened up for me — I’ve been introduced to many great and inspiring individuals and it gave me a chance to connect to people who share my vision and advocacy passion. It made me more responsible and led me to have this dream of helping communities and the environment at the same time.