Filipino named best debater in Asia
MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino was recognized as Asia's best debater at the United Asian Debating Championship (UADC) held in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Tied for the top spot with Sajid Khandaker of Bangladesh, Andrei Buendia bested at least 219 other debaters from countries across Asia on Saturday, August 5. Buendia is a fresh MA graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).
"I feel like this is a great way to end a career that began with so much frustration. 2017 was really the year that all the hard work paid off," Buendia said.
Mika Filoteo from ADMU was also named as the 10th best speaker of the competition. Meanwhile, a team from the National University of Singapore won the championships at UADC.
The UADC is the largest competition in Asia using the Asian Parliamentary (3v3) format. It is held every year and has participants from around 12 to 15 countries. Around 70 teams competed in this year's UADC from July 28 to August 5.
The last time a Filipino took home the best debater title was when Pearl Simbulan of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman won in 2012.
Buendia, 21, said debating has helped hone his communication skills and logical capacity. He started debating when he was in 3rd year high school.
"It helps me defend my answers to professors, and allows me to communicate my ideas with adequate analytical rigor," he added.
The Ateneo Debate Society was one of only two organizations to bring two teams into the open break, the phase in the competition shortlisting the top 16 teams advancing to the final series.
UP Manila, UP Diliman, UP Los Baños, University of Santo Tomas (UST), De La Salle University (DLSU), and University of Asia and the Pacific also sent teams to the international competition.
At the UADC, teams from ADMU brought home the following awards: 1st and 10th best speaker, first runner-up, and semifinalists. UP Manila, UP Diliman, UST, and DLSU were all octofinalists.
Debating in the PH
For Buendia, debating teams – especially those from the provinces – have yet to gain more support both from the public and the government.
"I firmly believe that the Philippine debating circuit is one of the most competitive circuits in the world... I have met debaters from Visayas and Mindanao who are so talented but have never stepped on the national stage simply because of funding," Buendia said.
To millennials who are thinking of trying their luck at debating, Buendia has a simple message: Go for it.
"More than the skills you gain, the community is also one of the most welcoming communities out there. You gain more than just medals. You also gain lifelong friends who share your love for critical thinking," he added. – Rappler.com