It has been 5 years since we ignited the passion for debating among the high school students and widen the scope of the debate community in Iloilo City.
The Vice Mayor’s Debate Cup: Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) Inter-High School Debate Competition, the most awaited event of the young Ilonggo minds, falls during the week of the Charter Day celebration of the city. As a partner school, the University of the Philippines Debate Circle (UPDC) takes pride in convening our high school students to the real debate experience which includes 5 elimination rounds from which the top schools will proceed to the final series that will judge the toughest contender among the pool of brave. The winners of the event take home medals, certificates, cash awards, gift checks from sponsors, and most especially bragging rights for being the Champions.
This event started through the initiative of the Iloilo City Government, specifically from the Office of the City Vice Mayor, Hon. Jose S. Espinosa III. Vice Mayor Espinosa wanted something new for the young minds of the Ilonggo community, a competition that will encourage critical thinking of its participants, thus the birth of the Debate Tournament.
For five years since 2012, under different leadership from five Prime Ministers of UP Debate Circle, in partnership with the Vice Mayor’s Office, it has successfully hosted and organized five debate tournaments from which five different schools emerged as champions. These schools are West Visayas State University, Colegio de San Jose, Colegio de las Hijas de Jesus, Ateneo de Iloilo and Iloilo National High School, respectively. Starting with only eight participating schools in its first year, the competition has expanded and now has 16 participating schools. This growth is not just in the number of schools that join every year but also in the involvement of different partners such as SM City and Atria, with them recognizing that the competition and the debate community in Iloilo City is getting bigger and is relevant to the Ilonggo community.
UP Debate Circle is an organization composed of students that share passion into debating. It has been one of the dreams of the organization to spread the art of debating to the Iloilo community, especially to the younger ones. The debate community of Iloilo is still young, developing and admittedly, less competitive than those from Luzon and Mindanao. For the past years, Visayas contingents have been struggling to gain more members and compete not just in skills but also in number. We had that platform when the Vice Mayor’s Debate Cup: SP Inter-High School Debate Tournament was born.
Sangguniang Panglunsod Debates became a leeway for the Iloilo debate community to grow and extend its reach not only to college and university students but also to high schools. The competition itself became the training ground for young and aspiring individuals, of whom, with proper practice and support, has great potential to be an asset to the community. The competition helped UP Debate Circle achieve its dreams faster. More are now aware of what really is debating, the importance of being socially active, encouraged to think critically and recognizes the benefits of debating, both socially and academically. Now, more and younger individuals are engaged and interested to learn debate.
Another good thing that came out from this endeavor is that different schools now in Iloilo City have form their own debate organizations. This lead to the establishment of the Iloilo Debate Union, who as its pioneer project, organized its first debate tournament last August 2016. This is the kind of event that has greatly helped in the continued increase in number of students who have developed their love for debating.
UP Debate Circle takes pride with this growth of the Iloilo Debate Community. Seeing how high school students take on the challenge to improve and be good at debating. The enthusiasm of these students further inspires us to be better and learn more and to have more to share.
It has been an honor to be part of the Vice Mayor’s Debate Cup: SP Inter-High School Debate Tournament.
By: Ms. Jerrica Celendro
UP Debate Circle, SY 2016-2017