ATENEO de Iloilo-Santa Maria Catholic School SHS debate team remained undefeated after emerging as champions in the 2nd Inter-School International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Red Cross debate competition last August 12, facilitated and hosted by the Red Cross Iloilo Chapter at Robinson’s Place Jaro.
With a 3-0 winning streak and a twice-to-beat advantage in the finals round, Ateneo went on another head-on match against Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (CSCJ) after competing with them in the semi-finals round.
“I didn’t have any strong feeling because I knew the debate was won. The team prepared well and executed the game plan perfectly. I was happy for the team, but I expected them to win,” Lcid Fernandez, one of the debate team’s coaches, said after the win.
Joshua Allyn Espartero garnered his very first Best Speaker award in the finals match while Nicole Faye Caña for the Best Debater award.
“Honestly, it was something that I didn’t really expect but still it was really fulfilling. Fulfilling in a sense that I really worked hard for that. Memorized a 870-word speech within 2 days, practiced delivering it every hour, and even became my bathroom song with the frequency of how I delivered the speech. So winning a finals best speaker really made everything complete especially with us bringing home the bacon. It was simply surreal,” Espartero stated.
The speakers were Erica Tabuena, Joshua Espartero and Nicole Caña while Keanna Sun, Shaula Go, Trixelle Juan Tong and Demboy Gumboc were the researchers.
“Between being a researcher and a speaker, you’d think being a researcher would be the less stressful choice, but although we work in the background, we experience the same amount of pressure and nervousness when we stepped on that stage,” Sun said.
The team also received medals, certificates, a trophy and a cash prize worth 10,000 pesos for being the champion of the competition.
“As someone who had literally zero experience with debate, I had doubts I’d be helpful and that at some point I’d break down from all the stress, but to be able to do something that I’ve never intended to do was a once in a lifetime experience. Overall, I don’t regret joining even though it cost me so many late nights, missed quizzes and money,” Sun added.
Fernandez, who is also an alumnus of the school and is now the official moderator of the ADI-SMCS SHS Debate Club, was with the team and guided them until the finals. His message for them was to keep going, do not be content with that win and help usher in the next generation of Atenean debaters.
“I’ve been with the team for around a month and I’ve formed a bond with them. They’re the team I spent the most time with and they also worked the hardest. I watched them stumble, doubt themselves, and fall flat at times. This is why I am immensely proud because I saw where they started, the adversity they went through, the fortitude to push through,” Fernandez added.
The debate competition lasted for a month with five participating schools, each team consisting of three speakers, three researchers and three reserves. (Ripples/News article by Trixelle Johanna Juan Tong. Photos by Pixelate.adi)