The Spelling Bee

As big, wide eyes focused on Lisa, she marveled at those tiny creatures glued to branches of trees in the wooded spot where their jeepney passed by. She hoped to stop the driver, yet it was not the time to go nuts.

She was competing for a Spelling Bee – in Filipino. She laughed at the idea of joining- but she joined, anyway. Her partner was a fifth grader, senior to her by a year so she assumed as the main contestant.


Lisa was smiling, assured they would nail the first prize. The words were just too easy, it’s impossible to misspell them.

“A-L-I-M-P-U-Y-O”, her partner uttered.

She was right, so did the rest of the contestants. Until:

“BALIKAT,” for the difficult round.

“B-A-L-I-K-E-T”, her partner mangled.

“A’ sounded suddenly ‘E’ to the jurors. Lisa’s hope sank. She tried to suppress the urge to blame. It could not be undone. So she ordered her eyes to wander around the venue: the playground was larger than the one they had in school, more trees surrounded the campus. They also dropped by the marketplace a few walks away. She couldn’t believe they were on a hilly portion of Camiguin, called Mambajao.

Heading back to their home school, she told their story of misfortune, and her adviser had but one comment:

“Had she let you spell, your team would have won.”

It was boastful to agree, but she nodded at the thought. If she could only edit past events. Glorious moments would have been perfectly sculpted.

Nevertheless, the free travel, and the hours away from the four walls of the classroom were freedom  and fun multiplied. She only needed to bear and grin at the distress of telling about “not winning”.

Pursuing glory was still a chase after the wind for Lisa. Piffle.


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