Chicago sisters dominate Fil-Am essay-writing contests | Global News

Chicago sisters dominate Fil-Am essay-writing contests


Florence Almeda won first place in this year’s Philippine Independence Week Committee Essay Writing Contest. PINOY

CHICAGO — Writing talent must run in the Almeda family because the two Almeda sisters, Francine and Florence, have each won first place during 2014 and 2016 essay writing contests held by the Philippine Independence Week Committee (PIWC).

The topic given at the 2016 PIWC Essay Writing Contest held in Chicago was the “advantages and disadvantages of using email.” Twelve students participated in writing an essay on this topic.


Florence Almeda, a sophomore at the University of Chicago Laboratory School chose to argue the cons of email, and took home the first place prize.


She writes, “In order to truly enjoy relationships and build lifelong connections, we must take a moment to step back, sign out of our emails, close our computer screens, and open our hearts to others around us.”

A lot has changed since Florence’s parents’ younger days. She recognizes the need for email to be able to function in this day and age.


Francine Almeda nabbed first place in the PIWC Essay Writing Contest in 2014. PINOY

“For many people of my age, it’s hard to believe that our parents did not grow up with the same type of technology. I would estimate that there has not been one day this entire year that I have not checked my email.

Almeda says she was taught how to type starting in the Third Grade and she hated it.

She understands that email is just a type of technology, but not a good medium to use to interact with peers. She writes, “The increased use of technology, including email, has served to raise a generation of youths that are prone to insensitivity and resistance to face-to-face interactions….” She cites how people can be “rude” when they use email and not have to face the consequences of their actions.

Alternatively, other students argued the pros of email.


Karla Tejero, a freshman at Yorkville High School, explained, “The use of e-mail allows the recipient to receive the message in a timely fashion. This is critical, especially if the email includes important information.”

Tejero won second place for her essay, “E-mail: The Efficient Way of Communicating.”

She writes that the use of email can inform people of immediate decisions, such as if a manager would like to cancel a meeting.

Tejero argues that email can save time and gasoline. She writes, “Instead of driving to the post office and going through the excruciating and long process or sending a letter, one can simply send his/her letter with the click of a button. “

The top five essayists received a cash prize on June 18 during the PIWC Gala at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel. The third, fourth and fifth place winners, respectively were Reijhay Vargas, an 8th grader at Lincoln Jr. High School, Benjamin Lortie, a freshman at Streamwood High school, and Nichol Rivas, a 7th grader at Joseph E. Gary Elementary School.

The cash prizes ranged from $250 to $50 and were presented to the essayists.

Jo Wee Sit, overall chair and judge of the PIWC Essay Writing contest, found these student’s essays inspirational.

The participating students are Nicole Rivas, Seri Cho, Florence Almeda, Alianna Bulanhagui, Joseph Lortie, Benjamin Lortie, Christian Luciano, David Rivas, Valerie Silvano, Reijhay Anthony Vargas, Kayla Tejero, and Maya Leighton. They each received $20 for their participation in the contest.

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Two years ago, Florence Almeda’s sister, Francine, won the essay writing contest on the topic of “living the American dream” with her essay “Sparks: The American Dream.” In her essay she wrote about her mother’s sacrifices of studying very hard and overcoming challenges to make it to the top of her class in medical school, giving her the opportunity to come to the US to work as a doctor.

TAGS: Francine Almeda, University of Chicago Laboratory School

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