Capping off the greatest ride of my life.

I never saw it coming. I never expected I’d be embarking on what would become one of the best two day stretches of my life. Because prior to it all, I never expected that much. I knew I wasn’t able to prepare well enough for what I will embark and pursue to accomplish. But I know this will be my last ride, capping off a great run I had the past two years. Yet, for those two days, everything happened like it was a good night’s dream.

It all began on a Friday, February 28 at the Our Lady of Fatima University campus in Lagro, Quezon City. I took a short bus ride from my home to get there, and it would be the first time I will meet the rest of the team who will be there with me competing at the 2014 UFTE Cup. In last year’s tournament, together with some of my classmates and batchmates, we competed at the Treston International College campus in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. I finished second in the quiz bee competition, losing valiantly to a better man from De La Salle University-Dasmariñas. In the lead-up to the biggest final test I will have competing as an individual, I saw some familiar faces and saw new ones. Winning it all wasn’t in my head. I’d just wanted to put up a great fight. Then almost mid-day, the competition began. I fought against 28 fellow students from colleges and universities across the Philippines. It was a tightly contested contest, I didn’t knew where I am standing with the rest of them during the entire course of the competition. When the dust settled, the scores came out, and I won it! by three points over the lady and a good friend of mine from Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila Lorraine Padilla who beat me in the PHILTOA Quiz Bee last year. I never saw it coming. It was an emotional victory for me as it was the first and only time I won a competition as an individual.

Then more blessings came along for our team, as the Tour Packaging pair of Angela Sonico and Janelle Payumo from class 3T1 won also, while the Domestic Tour Guiding participant Danica Esquilona also from 3T1 won. While Dan Quiaoit and Miya Morelos put up a good fight in their International Tour and Kasuotang Pinoy competitions respectively. The cherry on the ice cream is that we won second place in the overall standings which was won by Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila who won for the second straight year.

Then the following day, with less rest coming into the next competition as the program last night finished unfashionably late into the night. I went in again, took a ride from home to the DENR Building also in Quezon City for the last competition I will embark on, the UP Club for the Environment & Tourism Domestikwhiz 2014. We were coming in as the defending champions where I was also a part of the team which won last year. The team this year, is a bit different from the team I started with the year, since both of them from the original team were unable to go since they were coming off a trip from South Korea. So I came in with a team composed of myself, Camilla de Guzman and Lia Tani both from class 2T3. This year’s competition is smaller than previous years as only 6 schools competed. We struggled out of the gates to start the competition, we had a tough time as our competitors gained ground on us. But we were able to do enough to get into the final round with 3 schools competing. We were happy that we will get a place at the end of the day, then in the final round, we made our move. We were able to recover all lost ground, when it all was said and done! We defended the title! It was a special feeling for me to defend a championship we won. We never saw it coming, yet we were there on top of the mountain once again!

Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
With that great run I had over these two wonderful days, my run as a quiz bee competitor for the University of Santo Tomas – College of Tourism and Hospitality Management came to an end. At the end of it all, the statline I compiled over the last two years:
1-time semi-finalist
1-time Third Placer
2-time Runner-Up (both as an individual)
5-TIME CHAMPION (4 as a group, 1 as an individual)
(4-0 when a competition was held in my hometown of Quezon City)
These would have not been possible without the help of the CTHM Administration led by Dean Tio Cuison, Sir Win Medina, Sir Granado as well as Fr. Roy Rodriguez our Regent who gave me the opportunity to compete not only for the college but for the university. To all my coaches over the years, Ma’am Connie Ang, Ma’am Tin Fajardo, Ma’am Amy Turaray, Ma’am Jane Devanadera, Ma’am Karla Colmenar for giving us the wisdom in all our endeavors during the times we competed, and a special mention to Ma’am Joreen Rocamora (who’s now in De La Salle Lipa) for believing in a guy who wasn’t even in the Top 50 of the batch to compete on the biggest of these stages. To all my classmates, my 4T5 family who have been there to cheer me on even if they’re not in body to be at all my competitions, to my fellow batchmates who will graduate soon, to the people who I joined this journey in, my teammates over the years Ate Kriskyn Cabrera, Ate Marian Buenaventura, Chamille Mercado, Miah Kogami, Camilla de Guzman and Lia Tani. To my family who supported me from the very beginning. And lastly, to God for all the blessings I got over this two-year stretch.
So with all of that, the greatest ride of my life comes to an end. 
This has been Karl Carandang, competing for UST-CTHM signing off.
The ride ends with a bang!
K-Smoove
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