Batac City high school conquers Ilocos Norte debate tournamentMar 15, 2018
Former director: "Debate is a tool for youth engagement, improved local governance"
The City of Batac National High School (BNHS) – Poblacion Campus bagged the championship of the first student-initiated Debate Cup hosted by the Ilocos Norte Debate Union last March 10, besting students of the Northwestern University (NWU) – Laboratory High School, Laoag City.
Winning debaters were John Rey Calacal, Efanna Felice Casil, and Hannah Joy Culannay with Jericha Faye Tingson as student adjudicator. Calunnay was also awarded Best Debater.
Meanwhile, Shalin Srikant Prabhaker from the NWU-LHS bagged the Best Speaker Award. On his side were Raul Emmanuel Casil and Aser Lance Pascua, with Vivian Casil as student adjudicator.
The Best Student Adjudicator Award went to Brylle Lancelot Abad from the Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trades (INCAT).
Teams tackled the motion, "'Maria Clara' culture is dead," for the championship round, with the team from BNHS defending the Opposition Side.
In previous years, INDU tournaments were held in cooperation with the Ilocos Norte Youth Development Office (INYDO). This year marked their first independently-conducted tournament.
Mr. Gervy James N. Gumarit, former INDU director, shared that debate not only keeps youth from being apathetic about community issues, but also encourages them to be engaged with tackling these issues as they share their ideas and insights.
"They are helping the people in government and the people in executive seats come up with solutions to consider as they create better lives for their constituents," he explained.
Gumarit was first exposed to debate during his senior year in high school, at a tournament sponsored by the Provincial Gender and Development (GAD) Office in celebration of International Women's Month in 2014.
Later, he was a contestant at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Intercollegiate Debate Tournament (FEMIDT), held in honor of its namesake, a former president of the Philippines. He represented the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).
He named Mr. Herdy La. Yumul, columnist and instructor at the MMSU, and Mr. James Ceasar Ventura, commissioner-at-large of the National Youth Commission (NYC) and former executive director of the INYDO, among the key players in directing and organizing the FEMIDT.
"They acknowledged the role of debaters among youth in the province, so they helped establish the INDU," Gumarit shared.
The current tournament director of the INDU is Norie Rumbaoa, a student of the Divine Word College of Laoag (DWCL).
Imee the most debate-friendly governor
Gumarit also revealed, "Before the governor [Imee R. Marcos] took office, the debating community in the province was not booming, not this popular."
He quoted Yumul as saying that Marcos was the most debate-friendly governor in the country for being one of the few local leaders to sponsor provincial debate tournaments.
"Governor Marcos loved to hear new ideas from the youth, so she continued sponsoring debates – for community issues to be tackled through intellectual discussion and discourse," Gumarit said.
He pointed out how realization of the importance of scholarships through debates paved the way for leadership, athletic, and technical-vocational scholarships to be offered to Ilocano youth in addition to academic scholarships.
Gumarit encourages other youth to engage in debate, at the same time acknowledging that it is a skill to be learned and may be more difficult for some.
According to him, voicing out one's opinions and ideas may be more effective than through other platforms because debaters have the potential to be invited as resource speakers in provincial, municipal, or city board sessions and are thus able to exert more influence in local governance, community development, and in the long run, nation-building.