Filipinos hailed as Asia’s best student debaters

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Photo courtesy of Aloysius Bresnan

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 1) — Filipino student debaters are hailed as Asia’s best after winning the United Asians Debating Championship (UADC) in Hanoi, Vietnam on Sunday.

Mikko Vitug, Adrian Padilla, and Jaime Siy from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) bested 61 other debating teams.

The trio comprised Team ADMU 2 that defeated a team from the Institute of Business Administration of the University of Dhaka (IBA-DU) in Bangladesh.

The two teams debated on the pros and cons of the widespread narrative that living a long life is inherently good.

Seven of nine judges voted for ADMU 2, while Padilla was also made the finals best speaker.

ADMU 1’s Mika Filoteo, meanwhile, also topped 185 other debaters to bag the tournament’s Best Speaker award.

Filoteo's teammate Ignacio Villareal ranked as 5th, while Padilla and Vitug placed 6th and 10th best speakers respectively.

Vitug said he didn't expect the victory at all, and he's still processing everything that's happening.

"A lot of the debaters at UADC were debaters that I would watch YouTube videos of so that I could learn more about debate, so it was surreal to even have gone against them in my first go at the tournament," Vitug in a message to CNN Philippines.

UADC, the largest annual debate competition for college students across Asia, was held from June 24 to 30th for this year.

It uses the Asian Parliamentary format with three speakers on opposing sides.

Each team will only be given 30 minutes to prepare after the motion is announced.

After that, every speaker has seven minutes to argue their side. One member from each team will then be given four minutes to close their side’s case for the round.

The 16 teams with the most number of wins after eight preliminary rounds will proceed to the breaking rounds. The two remaining teams will then battle it out in the finals.

UADC has been held nine times in seven different countries like Thailand, Macao, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

ADMU joins the prestigious roster of National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and International Islamic University Malaysia for bagging the crown twice.

The University of the Philippines - Diliman was the last university from the country that won the UADC six years ago.

Organizers said the tournament gives young people the opportunity to express their opinions, compete, learn and enhance critical thinking skills.

For Vitug, debate is a great way to strike a balance between both emotion and logic while developing to be more engaging speakers.

"The discussion of our opinions and thoughts about the world often sway too heavily into either emotion or logic. Discussions that are purely emotional often aren't grounded in facts and reality that we can all agree on. Discussions that rely purely on logic seem inaccessible and unempathetic," Vitug explained.