Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The Henares family of Avon, Connecticut has made two trips to the Scripps Spelling Bee competition since 2007 when his eldest son, then 14 years old, finished third.

The Spelling Bee is held every year in the Metro DC area.

This year, it drew 275 contestants from around and outside the United States, including about a dozen Filipino-Americans and one Japanese-Filipino.

The kids beat about a million other Spelling Bee aspirants to earn a place in the national championship.

Among them was John Paul Henares, the youngest son of John Henares who originally came from Bacolod City. “We home school our children and one of the things we do is network around the community, not just for the Spelling Bee or other academic contests but also in sports so our kids can get together with the other children, and it just happened that were was home schooling group in Connecticut involved with Spelling Bee, so we joined,” John tells us.

His eldest son Joseph finished third in the 2007 Spelling Bee championship. His daughter got as far as third place in the regional competition. “I never expected to get as far as I did,” explained Joseph who is slated to enter Notre Dame where he plans to major in history.

Joseph reveals he made it to the national championship on his 4th attempt. For many contestants, they’ve been here before. It was Andrea Mirasol’s 3rd sortie to the national championship.

Her parents – Amelia and Avelino Mirasol of Vernon, Texas (who proudly proclaim they are town-mates of President Aquino in Tarlac) say it would Andrea’s last because she already hit the age limit.

But for Ricardo and Marivon Secular of Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania, their daughter Isabel still has a crack next year – if she can hurdle the local, state and regional competitions again.

“It’s tough,” Andrea conceded, as she noticed the continued rise in the level of competition in the times she’s made the championships. “There’re a lot of smart, talented kids out there.”

“Out there” includes places outside the US. Yuichi Yoshioka, whose Filipina mother used to join Spelling Bee contests back home, travelled from Tokyo where he won the spelling contest there.

The Scripps Spelling Bee championship in Japan was originally scheduled March 12, the day a powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami struck the country.

After two postponements, the contest was finally held on May 14 which the 12-year-old Yuichi topped, giving them just a few weeks to prepare for the US championship at scenic National Harbor in Maryland.

“We could still feel after-shocks when we left Tokyo,” Ellen Yoshioka told us.

Yuichi speaks Japanese and English with ease and a smidgen of Pilipino. He is one of 29 spellers who didn’t speak English as a first language.

The Filipino spellers didn’t make the final cut although one boy, J. D. Malano of Barstow, California fell just a point short.

“I didn’t make it,” Yuichi explained. “I only got 24 out for 31. I’ll take my revenge next year,” he declares with a straight face.

Then borrowing sunglasses from another contestant nearby, he tries to mimic Arnold Schwarzenegger with his cute, young voice, “I’ll be back!”

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