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Ateneo bags int’l debate championship

by Leila Salaverria

THE Ateneo de Manila University team won the 43rd World Universities Debating Championship held in Madrid, the first time a team from the Philippines emerged on top in the competition.

The winning team from Ateneo consisted of David Africa and Toby Leung, both BS Applied Mathematics majors. They bested debaters from Princeton, Sofia, and Tel Aviv University in the grand finals held on January 3.

The debate centered on Ubuntu, a philosophical belief that asserts that people’s identities should be shaped by, and their obligations should primarily be owed to, their communities.

“It is the first time ever that a team from the Philippines or Southeast Asia has won this prestigious tournament,” Ateneo de Manila said in a statement. 

Leung was also named 2nd best speaker, while Africa was 8th. 

Marlu Vilches, Vice President for the Loyola Schools and Officer in Charge for the Professional Schools, lauded the Ateneo team for its performance.

“I warmly congratulate David Africa and Tobi Leung for emerging as the first ever Filipino and Southeast Asia champions of the World Universities Debating Championship. May your historic achievement inspire more students to scale ever higher heights of excellence for the betterment of our nation and of the world in these challenging times,” Vilches said.

Ateneo president Fr. Roberto Yap also said the team’s “inspiring” victory brought pride not just to the school, but to the country and to Southeast Asia as well. 

“Their win is proof that our debaters can stand head and shoulders above their peers from some of the best universities in the world. Thank you, David and Tobi, for the immense pride you have brought to the Ateneo community, to our nation, and to the Southeast Asia region. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!” Yap said.

The Ateneo Debate Society congratulated Africa and Leung as well as the rest of the team who joined the international competition. 

“This is the third consecutive time an Ateneo team has made a finals appearance, and an enormous feat that no other Filipino team has succeeded in since its conception,” it said on Facebook.

It noted that the WUDC is the one of the largest and most diverse university-level debating tournaments. 

“What an amazing way to start the year! We’re excited to see what more 2023 has in store for the Ateneo Debate Society,” it added.

More than 260 debate teams participated in the tournament, which was held from December 27 to January 3. 

The WUDC tournament follows the British Parliamentary format where a different motion is discussed in every round. 

The topic is made public 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the round. 

Banner photo credit: WUDC Facebook



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