The last time I entered a contest was way back in college during my quiz bee stints inside the campus and inter-university competition.
My last memory of losing was when I participated in a “Brain Twister” quiz bee in Holy Trinity College in Quezon City (a school near St. Luke’s Hospital) where I just ranked 8 out of 33 participants. It’s a brain drain though. Competing against the toughest kids from the likes of UP-Diliman, UE, PLM, PUP, Ateneo, and etc. brought me in awe. I just can’t believe I’m among them. It was like “Do I belong here” kind of feeling. Doubting as I was, I just concentrated and did my thing. In the end, I lost. Though I would say it's a graceful loss. A real fighter never quits and despite on a losing end, still finishes the battle.
I guess I've had five quiz bees wherein I've participated way back in my college days. It's enjoyable yet brought high amount of pressure as you are prodded to review and review. Again and again.
It has been my attitude every time I join a contest to be hopeful yet expecting less. As I'm constantly reminded of the floods of disappointment if I set the bar one step higher.
And this year, I feel like I'm a newbie once again in a competition. Well, for one, I didn't explore this kind of a battle - writing competition? Are you sure? - that's what I pressed upon myself. I'm not even a communication arts graduate neither had a degree in mass communication or journalism. Though that was my first choice before I ended my high school saga. But, triggered by my strong belief that "To be excellent is not confined only to those who had their expertise in their chosen field, but it also favors the heart of a determined Juan". And so I went in to join this year's Middle East Conference "SFC Reflection Writing Contest".
My love for writing pushed me to participate, plus the support of those SFCs who believed in me boosted at par my confidence. The twist was this, "when I saw the email coming from our yahoo group I got excited and murmured to myself saying "I'll join this one". Few days after, bro. Aris Espanola also told me to try joining and encourage others SFCs to participate as well. And so I did what was asked of me.
But, due to my usual pre-occupied schedule and with lots of things constantly running in my mind, I forgot to make an entry early as it could be. Later when I realized that it was the last day already when I saw I guess an email or an FB notification from the Head Secretariat warning about that day's deadline. And so I crammed a bit. I was like, "Will I still make it?" "Will I still compose a credible entry?. Lots of questions were flowing in my neuron that put me a little uncomfy and unease.
I read again the criteria. We were asked to write a reflection based on the Gospel Reading assigned to each country participating. And the gospel of Mark 12: 38-44 was our assignment. While reading I came across this statement. "Pray before you write so that you'll be guided by the Holy Spirit." So, I did just that. And this was my official entry.
WE OWE IT FROM HIM
"The pure intention coming from a sincere heart of the poor widow affected me the most. It is through our genuine intention which truly matters and not by the amount being presented.
Being Christ's follower, this passage reminds me that life isn't sized up by how big or small we give but by how sincerely we offer. There are riches in poverty that God wants us to realize. We oftentimes view being poor as something to be championed for or eradicate. But in Mark's gospel, it is presented as something to be glorified. That, in reality, the joy in living and of living isn't in the possession of material riches but in our ability to be faithful in transcending the real essence of giving.
This gospel made me realize and reflect that it isn't about what we accumulate that makes us who we are. It is about what we owe from Him that all our actions deeply roots for. He is the giver of all that we need and therefore we should rightfully return with sincerest intention what was originally His. It's because in life, all that we have we owe it from Him."
It was early in the afternoon (on that deadline day) when I finished a 200-words maximum requirements for my entry. Did few revisions and gotcha! I'm done. So, I immediately emailed it for submission to Riyadh secretariat for shortlisting. The idea of shortlisting gave me again the unusual "butterflies in my stomach" feeling. Questioning again my credibility and capacity. The dilemma was that it took another week for the announcement of the final 3 entries for KSA. So the eager heart in me patiently waited.
Then came the announcement after a week of waiting. I was on break when I received an SMS message from Sis. Jodie and she indirectly broke the good news to me by just saying "check your email". Seeing the words had put me in ecstatic mood. I knew that it was a good news. And luckily, I made it as one of the top three contenders from KSA.
Moving ahead, now came the MEC (Middle East Conference) proper. Though I'm hopefull but I've already accepted the idea that "it's not all about winning but the sheer dedication of participating is what mattered to me". And led me to think that in case I win, it is just a secondary thing for me. It's like just a bonus. A topping on a cake.
Finally, our former CFC Couple Coordinator here in the Eastern Part of KSA, who are now based in Doha, Qatar, broke the news to me. Followed by my good SFC friend Joevan Gertes of Riyadh who were present in the conference too. They told me that I bagged a runner-up finish. Though my entry didn't bag the top prize, being given a special award for a runner up finish was more than winning the whole thing already. It's a gift for my fiancee who celebrated her birthday on the 29th of October 2011.. Intangible as it was, she was delighted of the gesture.
This is the testament of my faith put in writing. A concrete memorabilia that propels my spirit to inspire others, to be of person to others. The willful spirit in me who is a hopeful expecting less.
P.S. Originally posted on October 31, 2011