Salute to our PH Frontliners: Our COVID-19 Warriors

YAPAK Winners: Salute to our PH Frontliners: Our COVID-19 Warriors

Written by: Romeo Jr. M. Yumul from Pampanga

The Filipino voluntary group called YAPAK in London founded by Elija Villanueva, Angelica Macabangon, Regina Parente and Junart Nieva hosted a Spoken Word Poetry Competition last June 2020. YAPAK's primary purpose is to instil to the youth from all over the world the Philippine values: For the Love of God, People, Nature, and Country, to honour their respective families and contribute to society.

"Challenging and defying yet what a serendipity!" This is how I can describe the YAPAK Spoken Word Poetry Competition 2020 with a theme of "Pagsaludo para sa mga lumalaban sa Covid19". YAPAK has seen a light in the middle of darkness; They have seen a glimpse of hope even during this adversity that we are facing.

It was the perfect time to shape every youth who has the capability and ability to make poetry. There were about 300 youths from different parts of the Philippines who joined the SWP 2020. They boldly and confidently faced their fears to represent their provinces or places. The competition’s board of judges were composed of 29 Filipinos from different industries and parts of the world.

Elizabeth Gabriel one of the top finalists shared “I guess anyone wouldn’t think twice to say that the YAPAK Organisation is an exceptional group especially in motivating the youth to manifest their talents and to represent our respected culture with great pride and honour.”

Jerome Esguerra mentioned “Joining this contest was a brilliant experience. It helped me a lot, not just because of the prize I received. It’s because of the opportunity to show my talent to a vast audience. YAPAK helped me to improve my performing and writing skills.”

Lance Francisco mentioned, “From scratch, my spoken piece found its way not just to bring an opportunity to me, but to inspire every person who fights continuously against the pandemic.

Emmanuel Enriquez commented, “Considering the saddening reality of this unexpected pandemic, the spoken word poetry artist role is vital. This exclusive competition will equip artists with real-world tips and methods on how to use the power of our voices and desires to craft compelling narratives that capture not only the mind but also move the heart.

Martin Naling shared his views about SWP 2020, “ For almost half of a decade in this art form, I found out that there’s no absolute formula for writing a spoken word piece. However, I understand that for you to become a better writer, you must be a good listener at all times. When I say “listening”, it is not limited to the things you usually hear every day. Have you tried to listen to your own fear? To your own pain? Pain has no sound, but you can hear it scream.

The competition was like a fire burning. All the contestants did their best, which made it difficult for the board of judges to decide the best pieces. Every contestant has the passion to make it to the finish line. Just like any other competition, the contestants did their best, yet there were still those who stood out and were honoured and named winners.

Christian Padil said: ‘I was starting to lose my passion. I’ve been in a stage where I lost my confidence and trust in myself that I can still write a good poem because I stopped writing for many months. Don’t lose your passion just because you have the feeling that no one believes in you. You should be your number one fan and if you believe in your talent and skill, others will follow. It’s not about how many people believe in your talent, it’s all about how you believe in yourself.

Those who won the very first YAPAK Spoken word competition were Christian Padil (1st Placer) and he receives the following prizes: a cash of Php 6000 with 3D and 2N stay at Savoy Hotel Manila (worth of Php18,000), a scholarship grant from Asean Caribbean Open Institute and a Freckenham Award of Merit. The 2nd placer Jerome Lois Esguerra receives a cash of Php 4000, Scholarship grant and for 3D and 2N stay at La Carmela de Boracay. The 3rd placer J- Paolo Jabagat receives a cash of Php 3000 and scholarship while the special awards: Martin Naling (Judges Choice Award), Emmanuel Enriquez (Impactful Poem Award), and Lance Francisco (Best Solo Award).

All the Top 15 finalists received a cash as well as mobile prepaid load from the organisers

In conclusion, enhanced community quarantine is a struggle, yet this brought us to where it all started- to God and our home. This taught us lots of lessons to bring throughout our journey and a serendipity because it gives us a new page of a book to write on. The race is not yet over. The fight is not yet done.

For more information about YAPAK visit their website at www.yapak.org

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