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SPEJA Feature Writing Winners (ad verbatim)

Theresa Lopez, Undercovered

(Third Place)

Maria Theresa A. Lopez

          Talking about herself and the ups and downs of her life, Ms. Lopez takes a trip to the memory lane.

          As a child, she grew up from a family close to God.  Her mother and father belong to a Christian community, as well as her brother and sister.

          When she started schooling, she has received many awards and is a consistent honor student.  “It’s hard to grow up in a family of five ’cause you have to live up to the expectations of your parents and there’s so much pressure.”, says Theresa.  But even if she found it hard, it didn’t stop her from doing her best.

           In her high school years, she had a hard time adjusting to the changes.  Cliques, dramas, and the likes are all there.  “I used to be an outcast because my classmates hate me.”, she shares.

          Being an outcast is hard and sometimes traumatic.  I asked her how she coped with it.  “Well, at first I asked myself, Why me?  but I realized that I’ve been trying so hard to fit in and in order for me to do that, I have to be someone else.  That’s when I told myself to stop and just be myself and if they don’t like the real me, then I don’t need them.”

          As she takes a sip of water, I asked, “You’ve been through a lot and yet you are sitting here with  a smile on your face like you’ve never been hurt.  Is that one of your strengths?”  She replied, “I guess so.  But my mom and dad raised me to be strong so I don’ think of it as one of my strengths.”  “Well, then what are your strengths?”, I queried.  “Hmm. I’ve always been tough and easy to approach to and I’m loyal.”, she replied.

          Being more engrossed in our conversation, I asked her of her weaknesses.  “I trust a person way too much for my own good.”, she replied with smile twinkling in her eyes.

          I also asked what are the opportunities for her.  “I can adjust to the kind of people I am with.”, she replied.  “When there are opportunities, there are also limitations, so what are yours?”, I asked.  “I get mad easily and sometimes very vulgar and violent.”, she replied while laughing.

         “Coping up with the hardships in life is not easy.  But then again, it’s God’s way of making sure you remember Him.” -Theresa Lopez



Slices of a Busy Life

(Second Place)

Gillian Rey A. Cara

         ” Given the chance to live my life again, I’ll always choose to be my own critic.”

          These are her words to live by.  As I approached this lady for an interview, I can feel her anticipation, laced with anxiety.  As she nervously shuffled around, I felt that she was planning the rest of her day.  That was no doubt though, because she’s one of the busiest people around school.  She’s Gillian Rey Cara, a campus journalist, choir president and science curriculum student.

          And so my interview with her commenced.  I inquired about her abilities with which she responded with a shy smile.  “Well, I don’t have any abilities, but the good Lord has given me the gift of language and the soul of music.”  With that I saw a playful twinkle flash across her brown eyes.  “But that’s not all.”, she added.  “I also has the misfortune to be very clumsy and shy.”  Upon hearing this, I laughed softly.  Because right there and then, I discovered that a student of such caliber also has weaknesses.  “But nevertheless, I still feel very blessed.”  That sparked my interest, so I wished to know these blessings she spoke of.  “Oh that.  Well, I was born normal, if that counts!  But seriously, they say that I’ve got a commanding air that lands me anywhere I want.  But I doubt that.”, she laughed.  However, I noticed that she winced.  I just asked her about it and she said, “Oh, don’t mind it.  It’s just that I have a lot of back pain hat interferes with the relationship I have with my myriad of work.”

         After asking a lot about her profile.  I decided that I must also know her work.  “I juggle between being a jovial choir president, a trusty journalist and a busy student, trying to clock in 32 hours a day.”, she replied.  Cool.  Upon hearing that, I realized- that must be hard.  But here she was, squeezing me and my interview in her long list of activities.  When I asked her how she was able to do so, she said, “You just have to love what you’re doing.  A task becomes a hobby if you’re happy with it.”  With this, I thanked her and we parted.  She immediately dashed off to her next task.  What a busy lady she was.

          As I thought about my encounter with her, I realized that a little time management can go a long way.  Having said that, I view time management as an essential tool to get through the day without mishap.  I learned from her that it’s not just all work and no play.  You’ve just got to work quick, then play!



Who Am I?

(Second Place)

Sarah Grace L. Baltazar

          How well do you know yourself?

          I interviewed someone to see how well she knows herself.  As I asked her what her strengths are, she proudly told me that she is good in singing, writing, studying and playing volleyball and table tennis.  She exhibits a positive outlook in life.  She faces challenges with a smile.  She loves the Lord unconditionally and trusts Him completely.

          When I asked her for her weakness, she answered with a grin.  Her only weakness is seeing her mom and sister cry.  It pains her when she sees them cry making her feel useless and helpless.  She is an adopted child.  The family she has is her mom and sister.  As much as possible, she will do everything to make them happy.  Problems are too many to carry all by herself.  But that doesn’t stop her to pursue her ambitions and dreams.  There are many opportunities around her.  One of her cousins offered help and is willing to get her as soon as she finish her studies.  She can go to abroad and then get her mom and sister after two years.  Problem is, they do not have money to spend on her studies.  So she applied to many schools and took scholarship exams.  Hopefully, she passed one of them.  One threat she has is that they are financially disabled.  That hinders her from everything but she never questioned God and trusted Him for everything.  As of now, she’s doing her best, studying and aiming for the best.

          How well do you know yourself?

            If you are letting problems hinder you from pursuing your dreams then think again.  As for the girl I interviewed, she said that problems are there to make us stronger.  We should let God be the center of our life and give everything in His hands.  He will show us many wonderful things if we believe in Him.  From the bible verse Romans 8:28,  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.



An Interview with a Stranger

(First Place)

Christine Faith C. Gabuya

          We are all united as one; we live in the same place, same time, same planet.  We all have our objectives and not a single one of them are alike.  Similar to our purpose, we too, have our own characteristics, rare and can never be found in someone else.  At least that is what I have pondered after an interrogation with this one person I just recently knew.

          The room was dark.  I sat beside her in the cold draft of the room that was let in by the window panes.  I stood there optimistic, hoping that I would probably get something useful and inspiring from her.  I was at my best- hair combed, face powdered and dressed to impress.  But when I saw her, she was pale.  She had short black hair like me and she was wearing the exact same dress that I had on.  The only difference between me and her is that on her face, one cannot simply trace the gaze of happiness.  Her eyes were dull and stared blankly at nothing.  I wouldn’t believe that I could be a person like that.

         So there, since I was desperate for this article to be included in our school paper, I started the interview right away.

          I sat in front of her.  As  I stared to her face, she stared directly to mine.  It was like at every direction I would look at, her blank gaze would follow.  Despite of this, I started the conversation to break the ice.

          I greeted her good evening and asked if she won’t mind if I ask her some questions for the paper.  She stared long at me before opening her mouth to say something.  She nodded her head and stared at me with a grin.  At this part, I was frightened.  This person was a stranger to me.  I have been close with my family and friends, but this person,  she was completely alien to me.

          I felt the comfort of my chair.  And so the interview started.  I asked her what her strengths and weaknesses are and she answered with a smile that she is just like me.  I whispered to myself in complete shock of how she knew who I was.  I sat in silence and listened to her response.

          She told me that she lives with her grandparents.  Her parents are too careless to take care of her so she lives with her grandparents.  They love and care for her very much so that is why she thinks that is a strength to her.  And in addition, she told me that another strength of her is her deep faith and trust to her friends, family and God.

          I asked her about her weakness.  Pessimism, that is the only word that she spoke of and soon expanded it by saying that in all her life, she was living with the darkness, consuming here all up and she described that it doesn’t seem to leave her alone.

          Finally, I asked for the opportunities and threats in her surroundings.  She told me that opportunities never run out and so does the threats., she dead panned.  She explained that threats often outweigh opportunities.  I wanted her to make clear of what she just said but she might get upset.  But I was so desperate.  So I asked her and found out that opportunity for her, is at the same time threat for her- her school life.  She pointed to me the phone accessories given by her cliques and friends, and also she pointed the slashes she made on her left wrist caused to her by the latter.

          Before I was with my interview, she whispered something to my ear, that I should not let her on my way.  Her black dilated pupils were staring directly into my soul.  I was terrified.

          My grandmother suddenly called out to me for dinner.  I told her I was coming.  I stood up from my seat and in the mirror, I saw the girl disappear before my eyes as I hurried downstairs.

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