My Golden Bronze

by Oliver Carlos

In 1992, I joined an international competition, and by God’s grace, I placed 3rd among thousands of contestants from all over Asia. The contest was sponsored by Asiaweek magazine and it involved 2 rounds- a photo quiz and essay-writing portion. The first round is the photo quiz. We were shown 7 Asian landmarks, and we were to identify which countries the structures were in. In that phase, more than half of the competitors were eliminated. Those who survived the cut were asked to write an essay about which landmark would best represent Asia.

Top right: The Canon EOS 10s, the most sophisticated camera in 1992 (photo from, ctto). Main picture: A sample double-exposure shot using my camera (photo by Jet Castillo)

In Round 1, which is the city identification phase, one photo was tricky. It showed a Catholic church. Many contestants wrote Philippines for an answer, because we are the only Catholic country in Asia. Being a history buff, I knew the picture was taken in Macau, not here. Macau was a colony of Portugal for so long, and Catholicism was introduced there by the Portuguese. I was able to enter Round 2 because of my answer.

In Round 2, I wrote about Smokey Mountain. It was the talk-of-the-town in the early 1990s, as it was Metro Manila’s biggest garbage dumpsite and a huge eye sore too. I wrote that it could represent Asia’s current state- in the name of development, we have damaged our environment, big time. The judges must have been impressed with my idea. The organizer told me that only 2 people placed ahead of me, and both of them were Chinese.

The 1st prize was a trip to 7 Asian cities, while the 2nd prize was an Apple desktop computer. For the 3rd prize, I was awarded a Canon EOS 10s semi-digital camera. It’s worth P30,000 and it was the most advanced camera in the world at that time. It still used film, but it had so many digital features like creating multi-exposure shots. During that time, such pictures were usually done thru darkroom techniques, but my camera can do it with a simple press of a button.

Winning 1st place or 2nd place were great, but I’m glad I placed 3rd because I really wanted the prize I got. God placed me at the perfect spot, for my own good. I was awarded my precious gadget in March of 1992. My parents accompanied me in claiming it at the Asiaweek headquarters in Manila.

Looking back at that experience, I couldn’t believe I won at all. To be selected by the judges among thousands of Asians was unimaginable. Asia is the largest continent, and the most populated one too. I was just a college student at that time, while the other contestants must be professionals, people who usually read Asiaweek. I admit I’m not the best historian or writer, but somehow God has his plans for me.

Recently, I came across a Bible verse that I think is related to this experience. Ecclesiastes 9:11 (GW) explains it all:

“I saw something else under the sun. The race isn’t won by fast runners, or the battle by heroes. Wise people don’t necessarily have food. Intelligent people don’t necessarily have riches, and skilled people don’t necessarily receive special treatment. But time and unpredictable events overtake all of them.”

It’s good to prepare in life, and to do our best in everything. That’s what we should really do. God doesn’t want us to be lazy or just rely on chance for our dreams and aspirations. God wants us to work hard and put our faith in him. After we have done this, it’s all a matter of God’s grace if we would receive what we asked for. He knows what is best for us. He also has his own timing.

Walking with Jesus daily is indeed very exciting and fun. You’ll never know what blessings lie ahead, but for sure there are blessings coming your way. Always remember that you have a Heavenly Father who knows your needs and knows what would touch your heart.



Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.

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Blog is Life

Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.