Ateneo de Manila University

WATCH: Winning argument of Ateneo team at world’s largest debate tournament

Russell Ku
WATCH: Winning argument of Ateneo team at world’s largest debate tournament
(1ST UPDATE) 'Community is a shackle that alienates you from your very sense of self, discourages you from discovering your own preference, and emboldens the worst forms of tyranny,' says Ateneo student Tobi Leung

Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this story, the word “unity” was used instead of “community” in the subhead and in a paragraph below. This has been corrected.

MANILA, Philippines – Third time’s a charm! Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) applied mathematics students David Africa and Tobi Leung brought pride to the Philippines for winning the World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) 2023 in Madrid, Spain, on Tuesday, January 3.

The Ateneo team debated against the proposition that it is preferable to have a “world where all persons have a strong belief in the philosophy of Ubuntu.”

“These obligations manifest badly. They always have and they always will,” Africa said in his argument. He cited the difficulty of speaking up against the status quo, people having less time to explore their own identity, and possible escalation of conflict.

Ubuntu, which means “I am because we are,” is an “African philosophy that places emphasis on being self through others.”

“Community is a shackle that alienates you from your very sense of self, discourages you from discovering your own preference, and emboldens the worst forms of tyranny,” Leung added.

He added that “a vast majority of people” tend to fail to honor their own obligations, even in the smallest ways as there are “other things that preoccupy them by matter of necessity.”

Africa and Leung’s victory marked the first time a Philippine university won the WUDC, which is considered the world’s biggest debate tournament. This is also the third consecutive time that the Ateneo made a grand finals appearance in the competition, said the Ateneo Debate Society.

WATCH: Winning argument of Ateneo team at world’s largest debate tournament

Ateneo is also the second Asian university to win the competition after Bangladesh’s BRAC University in 2022. Previous winners of the WUDC have been dominated by universities in Oceania, Europe, and North America.

Leung and Africa were also named the second and eighth-best speakers respectively.

ADMU President Fr. Roberto Yap said in a statement that Leung and Africa’s “unprecedented [and] inspiring victory…is proof that our debaters can stand head and shoulders above their peers from some of the best universities in the world.” – Rappler.com

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Russell Ku

Russell Ku is a digital communications specialist at Rappler, believing in the power of stories to build an empathic society. Outside of work, he dives deep into pop culture, especially the world of K-Pop.