Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Filipino Kid Champion In Spelling Bee In Florida

(The Filipino Express) - ORLANDO, Florida - After one of the longest Central Florida spelling bees in recent history, 11-year-old Philippine-born Miguel Gatmaytan recently won top honors and a trip to the nation's capital with the word cossack.

The boy smiled, shook runner-up Sophie Jupillat's hand, then sat down while his father and others rushed to take his photo. A few minutes later, the victory seemed to sink in.

"Yes!" he shouted, pumping his arms in the air.

Miguel, a sixth-grader at Osceola Middle School in Marion County, survived 38 rounds of spelling challenges and beat out 13 other competitors to win the 48th annual Central Florida bee, the Florida Sentinel reported.

The youngest regional spelling champion in more than a decade, Miguel's victory earned him a spot in the National Spelling Bee in May.

"I feel awesome," Miguel said after he had been handed a trophy and prizes, which included $2,000 for travel expenses to Washington, DC.

Miguel's father, Carlos, described his son as a voracious reader and straight-A student who always seemed to have a gift with words. The family moved to Florida from the Philippines three years ago, and the trip to Washington for the 80th national spelling bee will be Miguel's first to the nation's headquarters.

After 24 rounds, Miguel and Sophie, the Lake County champion, were the last two spellers left, and they battled for the top spot.

Aplomb. Basilica. Fiefdom. Pinnacle. Adumbrate.

The two students took turns spelling them right, among other words, to go another 14 rounds.
Then Sophie misspelled

vagary. She sat down, and Miguel returned to the microphone. Miguel spelled vagary correctly, then won when he also aced the word for a Russian peasant who served in the Czar's cavalry: c-o-s-s-a-c-k.

Miguel said he had never entered a spelling bee before this school year but studied nightly once he decided to compete. His parents helped by drilling him on words they found in spelling books. He won the Marion County bee, continued studying for Thursday's competition and said he plans to do even more for the national event.

The regional bee was held at the Orlando Sentinel, which sponsors the event. It featured winners and runners-up from eight Central Florida county spelling bees, though two contestants did not compete Thursday.

It took 21 rounds to whittle the competitors to a final four. Those four spellers included the youngest in the pack, nine-year-old Benjamin Rice from Port Orange Elementary in Volusia County. Benjamin spelled a long list of words correctly and brought smiles to the audience when one of them was precocious. He was knocked out in the 23rd round by reticence.

Kaitlyn Johnston, a student at The First Academy in Orange County, came in third. She tripped up on the word apparition in the 24th round.

Sophie, who is home-schooled, said the bee was fun and nerve-wracking and she hadn't expected to place as high as second in the regional competition.

Miguel also said he was surprised by how well he did.

"I thought I was a good speller, but I never thought I'd win the district," he said.

Sophie had two chances to win when Miguel misspelled contrapuntal and, then in the next round, also missed plenary, but she also spelled both wrong.

The national bee, sponsored by the newspaper firm the E.W. Scripps Co., is scheduled May 30 and 31. Last year, it included 274 spellers, all winners from regional bees. The 2006 national champion won with the word ursprache.

Wendy's restaurants was a sponsor of the Central Florida bee, providing the contestants with prizes and giving $1,000 to the winner's school. The Sentinel provides the travel money for the winner, among other gifts.

Born Like A Frog?

(Sun Star Bacolod) - A NEWLY-born baby boy from Escalante City who was diagnosed having "anencephallus" died over the weekend.

The first child of couple Alex and Leonisa Mabida of Barangay Mansablay, the boy was born Friday night in Sitio Cabalawan, Barangay Poblacion, Sagay City, with congenital defect.

The boy's cerebral hemisphere was completely missing as well as his eyebrows.

His eyes were completely bulging very similar to that of a frog. That's why he was likened to a frog.

Negros Occidental Provincial Health Officer IV Luisa Efren said the case is likened to that of an "anencephallus".

Anencephallus, according to a medical research from an internet, is a disorder that results from a neural tube defect occurring when the cephalic end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of pregnancy, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.

Infants with this disorder are born without a forebrain, the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres (which include the isocortex, which is responsible for higher level cognition.)

The remaining brain tissue is often exposed – not covered by bone or skin.

Infants born with anencephaly are usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with a rudimentary brainstem, which controls autonomic and regulatory function.

In an interview over dyHB-RMN Radio in Bacolod, Leonisa narrated that she was once harvesting vegetables in their backyard when she accidentally slipped and fell on the ground.

She theorized that the accident might have caused the physical disorder of the baby.

According to Leonisa, she never heard the baby crying except that she saw tears from her eyes after a midwife showed him to her.

Her husband, however, said the baby's physical appearance was a result of his wife's love of eating frogs during her pregnancy.