This pandemic has pushed us not only to get outside our comfort zones to survive, but also to find ways to be productive. It can be discovering a new hobby, starting an online business, or altering routines to change a lifestyle. I’ve also learned to divert my attention by creatively expressing myself through writing and cooking. These two passions also led me to celebrating my God-given talents and gaining recognition through them.

While browsing in Facebook, I read about the contests related to food and writing and got enticed with the prizes. After all, as one of the breadwinners in the family, it would be a great help to win these competitions because the prizes are fitting for my family’s needs. Being the procrastinator that I am, I submitted my entries on the last day of submission deadline.

Father’s Day with San Remo

I’ve read in the post of a fellow blogger that San Remo holds a contest about Father’s Day. Contestants will have to present their cooked pasta dish and compare their fathers to a pasta shape using creative descriptions.

Here is the full mechanics:

Show your love to your dad/head of the family this Father’s Day! Follow these steps to join and win Php 3,000 Sodexo e-GCs and San Remo Gift Packs!

1. Like and follow San Remo Philippines on Facebook and Instagram.

2. Pick a pasta shape that best describes your dad/head of the family, make a pasta dish with it, and tell us why in the caption.

3. Post your entry between June 17-June 28, 2020 on Facebook or Instagram and tag us with the hashtags #PastabilitiesThatShapeYou#SanRemoPH#FathersDayWithSanRemo. Make sure they are set to PUBLIC.

4. The most creative post will get a chance to win a San Remo pasta package and 3,000 Sodexo e-GCs.5. 6 winners (3 on Facebook & 3 on Instagram) will be announced on June 30, 2020 at 3pm on San Remo’s FB and IG Page, and will be contacted via personal message on how to claim their prize.

The greatest catch for me is winning San Remo’s prizes: Pasta and Gift Certificates! I love to cook pasta and I can use the Gift Certificates for my bi-weekly groceries. Very practical right? However, the only sad part about the contest is remembering my dad in the process. I remember after writing the caption, I was crying. I recalled his memories with me and his greatest impact in my life.

Anyway, I thought of choosing the Trivelli pasta just to make it a bit different. Spaghetti is a bit common and I know many will be using it as their contest piece. The others pastas are a bit complex to execute in terms of finding the perfect sauce and making it presentable in social media.

The day before the deadline was my brother’s birthday so I thought of choosing a recipe that can also be a part of his celebration. Believe it or not, it was my first time to cook Pesto. I bought the cheapest olive oil and Basil leaves from the supermarket as these are only extra items in our grocery list. Good thing, I reserved an extra serving after the party for my plating the next day. It was almost gone during his birthday! The Basil leaves I reserved as toppings wilted the following day, so I had to cut celery leaves to improvise.

It was also a pressure to see the other creative and witty entries which are winnable! I am also not an expert in flatlays so I just made use of the available “elements” at home like cloth placemat, pepper grinder, parmesan cheese, and sofa pillowcase. I scanned some pasta flatlays in Pinterest and Instagram to gather ideas.

I was surprised that I was announced as one of the winners in Facebook! Reliving the significance of Dad’s influence to me became the gateway for me to win this contest. I guess the essence of my story captured the hearts of the judges.

Comco Southeast Asia’s Writing to Ignite Blogging Project

This contest is open for all bloggers. Participants are encouraged to share their survival stories this pandemic and the lessons or insights they have learned.

The “Write to Ignite Blogging Project”, ComCo Southeast Asia’s latest initiative co-presented by Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet, and Teleperformance, is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a very long way during this period of crisis. An initiative open to bloggers in the Philippines, it aims to highlight the human spirit by encouraging them to share their reflections and personal plights during the COVID-19 pandemic. To guide them in their writing, they may narrate their story by answering the following questions: (1) How is your situation during the pandemic and quarantine? ; (2) What are you doing to get through the situation? ; (3) What has life taught you? ; and (4) What makes you move forward?

The grand prize is whopping Php 20,000!!! I need not elaborate why I decided to join the contest. After being in blogging hiatus for a couple of months to recover from the loss of my dad, I decided to write again. I collected my experiences during the pandemic lockdown by narrating how I managed to overcome losing my Dad and my close friend Karen, the new hobbies I started doing, plus the lessons and realizations that made me move forward in this crisis. Here’s my full entry:

We’ve heard different stories of hope and despair, and of striving to make ends meet. Each one has a unique story to tell in the face of the pandemic season; whether recovering from the virus, losing a job, discovering a new hobby, overcoming depression, or starting a new business. COVID-19 has changed us in one way or another.

Being the buzzerbeater that I am, I submitted my entry at 11:58 PM on June 30, the first declared deadline. After visiting my dad in the cemetery, I composed my thoughts and requested my family not to disrupt me so I can finish my piece before the deadline. Many talented writers and high -profile bloggers from all over the country joined. I was intimidated to read the stories of people in the same league, knowing they are all good in writing. It takes boldness to write a testimonial article that speaks of one’s courage amid this crisis.

I waited the whole day for the announcement of the winners. Unlike San Remo, it was not stated what time will they release the results on July 7. I kept going back to the website and FB page to check it. Until finally, in between emails at work, I finally read that I was one of the Top 40 among 70 participants! I was literally jumping for joy as I did not expect to be included!

Here’s the link:

It was followed by a virtual awarding on July 14. Among 40 storytellers, I was awarded the 15th place. I feel honored and privileged to be given this recognition. I may not have won the grand prize, but the experience is something to be treasured for a lifetime.

My Takeaways

I remember joining writing contests since high school but it’s either I don’t win or I am always the second runner-up but never the grand winner. I remember I was an almost an Editor-in-Chief in college, but didn’t get the position and cried over the scholarship. But despite these heartbreaks, I still pursued my passion for writing. It is true that God knows the desires of our hearts — He is the author of all these dreams. He is the giver of all these gifts. And one day, He will grant your yearnings according to His own plan and own timing.

Secondly, all the earthly rewards are just fleeting and will be forgotten by people. What about our eternal rewards? If the feeling of receiving these material incentives is overwhelming, what more in heaven?

” Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” – Matthew 6:19-20

Still, I am thankful to God for allowing me to experience this. I am also grateful to my family and friends who have supported me in these endeavors. To Him be the honor and glory.

What contest will I join next? Hmm…