The Philippines won its first-ever World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) after students from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) bagged the top prize.
Hosted by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, from December 27, 2022, to January 4, 2023, the 43rd WUDC saw hundreds of teams representing universities all over the world to compete at the world’s largest debate tournament.
Representing ADMU, BS Applied Mathematics students David Africa and Tobi Leung faced Princeton University, Bulgaria’s Sofia University and Israel’s Tel Aviv University in the tournament’s grand finals. Teams from Harvard, Stanford, the National University of Singapore and the London School of Economics also participated in the tournament.
“It means being able to proudly represent the school, country and continent on the international stage, and show the world that Filipino eloquence and critical thinking have always been world-class,” Africa told CNN Philippines.
The Philippine team reached the finals by beating other international institutions during the nine elimination rounds as well as in other break rounds.
This was the third consecutive year the organization made a finals appearance, according to the college organization Ateneo Debate Society.
“The Ateneo Debate Society is proud to congratulate Ateneo A, David Africa and Toby Leung, for winning the World Universities Debating Championship. The World Universities Debating Championship is one of the largest and most diverse university-level majors, hailing teams from all around the world,” said the organization in a post on its Facebook page.
Other contingents from the university also participated in the tournament, including Ateneo B with Quintin Chua and Aly Barranda and Ateneo C with Bern Advincula and Zen Tiangco.
The annual debating tournament, which uses the British Parliamentary debate format, is considered the biggest debating tournament in the world.
During the finals, the participants were tasked to debate whether it’s preferable to have a “world where all persons have a strong belief in the philosophy of Ubuntu.”
Ubuntu, which translates to “I am because we are,” is an “African philosophy that places emphasis on being self through others.”
Students from Bangladesh’s BRAC University were the champions last year.
Next year’s WUDC is scheduled to be held in Ho Chi Minh City by hosting institutions RMIT University Vietnam and Fulbright University Vietnam.