Weeks of mental exhaustion, sleepless nights, and emotional stress – all for a block of wood. At first glance, it didn’t seem special, but for the debaters of the University of the Philippines Debate Circle (UPDC), the words “Sinag Cup Champions” embedded in this simple trophy immortalized them as the best representation of the country’s peripheries and opened the door for them to be recognized as skilled debaters who struggled for years to succeed in the Philippine debate circuit as a result of their own effort and sacrifice. It had become the prime achievement of the UPDC to win the Sinag Cup at the 2019 Philippine Intercollegiate Debating Championship, especially in the highly competitive arena of collegiate debate, contending with different universities nationwide.
Beyond the accolades and competitions associated with it, debating is a platform to take part in a larger dialogue about the world at large. At the heart of the UPDC is the desire and passion to discuss relevant issues not only to become more aware and to gain more knowledge, but also to develop a deeper understanding of how these issues impact individuals, and society.
It is understandable that people tend to prioritize their own lives and desires at present over the problems of the world, but the UPDC believes that the skills that one learns in debate allow us to move forward with our eyes wide open to the bigger picture and bring us one step closer to a better future.
Debating communities across the Philippines are struggling to sustain themselves amidst problems which include the lack of public interest and access to opportunities, but despite all this, the UPDC has remained steadfast in its mission to promote and empower the youth to take part socio-political discussions which develop their skills in public speaking and logical thinking. For years, they have been actively conducting debate seminars in various schools in Iloilo City and organizing debate tournaments like the recently concluded 2019 Visayas Universities Debate Championship.
In order to widen the scope of the organization’s efforts, the UPDC proudly announces its official partnership with Daily Guardian. The debate organization aims to use the news outlet as a platform to objectively present important viewpoints and sides in current real-world debates in a format that is simple and easy to understand. More importantly, the UPDC views this as the perfect opportunity to share their stories and their passion for debate with the local community.
Back in December of the year 2000, a group of students from the UPV College of Management volunteered to compete at the Paragon Cup, a national debate tournament organized by the Paragon Scholarship Foundation. At this time, former UP President Francisco had previously called for the professors across the UP system to promote debate. In response to this, the dean of the UPV College of Management created a debate committee in order to spearhead their efforts in establishing a debate team for the college. Despite being relatively new to debate, the team won against Central Philippine University in regionals and proceeded to nationals where they won against the team from UP Los Baños, but later lost in their debate round against UP Diliman. This experience proved instrumental to the formation of the UP Debate Circle as we know it today. Encouraged by the performance of the team at the Paragon Cup, the UPV College of Management Student Council even organized the college’s first inter-batch debate tournament on February 2001, and in the first few weeks of the year 2002, the UP Debate Circle was formally recognized by the University of the Philippines – Visayas as an official student organization.
Where are we now?
Now on its 17th year, the UP Debate circle has continued to make huge strides in the field of debate. It has organized several local, regional and even national-level debate tournaments over the years. Students from schools across the Philippines have traveled to Iloilo City just to participate. The debate organization has also spearheaded efforts to teach debate in various schools all over Iloilo in order to further share their love for the sport and pass on what they know to the younger generation of students. With regards UP Debate Circle’s Performance in debate tournaments, its teams have been competitively debating in the national circuit for several years now and have consistently been performing well.
Moving forward, the organization faces many obstacles which range from the lack of interest of the local members of the youth, the current low population of college students as a result of the implementation of K-12, and the financial challenges of running an organization that regularly sends participants to various debate tournaments all across the country. These struggles may seem daunting, but the UP Debate Circle has never been a stranger to difficult circumstances. To this day, its members passionately pursue the sport and develop their skills so that they can not only compete at their best but also pass on what they know to the generations of debaters to come. Ultimately, the debate organization aims to stay true to its roots and to continue to develop the local debate community while also remaining competitive in the national debate circuit.