2021. It was a rainy week in the cabin. My running nose mirrored the sound of dripping rain. Outside, the wind was blowing cold. Inside, my body was shivering from high fever. I forced myself to sit up, keep my eyes open and finish reading the stack of papers in front of me. I dozed in and out. My drugs were stronger than Ambaguio’s barako coffee. I kept reminding myself, “Focus! these kids deserve a fair and thorough review of their works.”
1997. I heard my name being called. Once. Twice. “First Place, Feature Writing, Violet Lucasi of Saint Mary’s University.” Was it really me? I looked around, just incase someone else had the same name as I. I felt someone nudging me and people were clapping. Why me?! What were the judges thinking? Just a week ago, a teacher told me, “you’re not a good writer”. It was my first ever writing contest and I won. I was in 6th grade.
Back to 2021. I could not imagine that one day, I get to judge in a Division Press Conference. I felt honored to be able to get a glimpse of these young creatives’ hearts and minds. I re-read each entry as I blew my nose with every turn of a page.
Dear young writers, you are indeed the future voice to the voiceless. Whether you win or lose, this does not take away your ability to change your circles and communities with your pen, papers, phones and laptops. Keep writing, keep creating!
To our teachers and writing mentors, you are doing the world a great favor, molding the minds of the next generation. Do not give up on the strong-willed, do not lower your standards for the achiever and do not lose hope for the seemingly dull-witted. Your greatest rewards await you when they come back years later saying, “thank you for teaching me how to write.”
The winds kept getting stronger. My fever won’t budge either. I tallied my scoresheet and prayed I judged fairly. Attached Excel file. Sent to 2021 Online Division Journalympics Committee. I drank the last of my medicine, sank back on my pillow and closed my eyes. The rain continued to pitter-patter as I dozed into a deep slumber, dreaming of students jumping up and down as winners were announced. Tomorrow there will be a sea of clouds.