Surprises are usually covered in fancy wrappers, but they do arise in spectacular moments.


We witnessed another surprise in this year’s Division English Camp. This is my second year to serve as a coach.


Last Monday, I was shocked when our Department chairman instructed me to train the second place in the school level extemporaneous speech because the first place was terribly sick. Although the previous contender and I had spent many days for training, the new contestant and I had to start from scratch again.


This year’s extemporaneous speaker was my contestant during the school level. Her name is Jewel. During the finals, she won second place and our class celebrated her victory. But when I broke the news to her for the sudden change, we all accepted the surprise. From then on, we started meeting for our training since the competition would be three days later.


The pressure that the contest was drawing so near, and we felt that the preparation was too short, we braced ourselves to face these unfavorable circumstances and put our trust in the Lord. Favorably, my friends helped in training Jewel, and we brainstormed different topics and we had several critiquing to bring out the best in our extemporaneous speaker.


The day before the competition was a holiday, so we had to train until 5 PM last Tuesday. We started at 7 AM, and talking all day almost made our mind evaporate. During the last hours, Jewel felt like she’s losing her sanity, and she couldn’t work on her topic anymore. In the end, we just gave her an assignment.


On the contest day itself, we still rehearsed in the first hour in the morning. Indeed, she showed an improvement, and she definitely proved that she did her homework.


As I watched her as she delivered her speech, I was really proud to the kind of speaker she has become. I know that she’s really good, but what she showed in the contest was a far great improvement. As I expected, she didn’t show her fear, which I know she has inside, but it’s not obvious as she spoke her toes. She was able to explain the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” She surprised us with her thoughts.


On the announcement of the winners, we were expecting that she might land at the 5th place because she had really strong competitors, but when her name was not called, we were sad for a little while but still hopeful. But God is indeed, a God of surprises. The emcee apologized like Steve Harvey did. He clarified that the 5th place came in our school, and Jewel won the spot. We rejoiced in her victory that out of 16 or 18 students who competed, she rose as 5th best speaker in the Division of Antipolo.


Amidst all the challenges, we overcame our Goliath. I’m so proud of Jewel, and I’m really thankful to God for His limitless favor.


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