Bart W. Édes opens the championship dinner of the Philippine Inter-collegiate Debating Championship

Bart Edes Photo

Isang maalab at maligayang pagbati sa inyong lahat! Ikinalulugod namin kayong makasama ngayong gabi.

Welcome to the Championship Dinner of the Philippine Inter-Collegiate Debating Championship!

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” So said Mahatma Ghandi, the face of India’s struggle for self-rule in British colonial times. Employing well-chosen words – and nonviolent civil disobedience – Ghandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Ghandhi was a debater who challenged injustice and the status quo.

Debate provides significant benefits for individuals and for societies. It teaches the principles of tolerance, nonviolence, and respect for different points of view. In doing so, it can help close the gap between minority and majority cultures, and other groups divided by animosities of one kind or another.

Debate demands critical thinking, effective communication, and independent research and teamwork. It teaches skills that serve students well in school, and later in the workplace. Debate also enables people to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens of democratic societies.

As you have certainly recognized, students who debate are better able to critically examine the statements of their leaders, and to make carefully formed judgments about crucial public policy issues.

While Ghandi is most closely associated with his native India, he first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. Many years later, another champion of social justice in South Africa, the Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, once stated: “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.”

And improving your argument is something that you all have been doing in the period leading up to this Championship.

The Asian Development Bank is thrilled to be hosting this event, and delighted to welcome the 60 participating debate teams and 300 debaters.

I would like to thank the University of the Philippines Debate Society for organizing another exciting edition of this annual event, and to recognize the president of the UP Debate club, Weston Lee.

This Championship provides a dynamic forum within which Filipino youth can explore and analyze various issues relevant on a national and global scale.

If you have not already done so, please serve yourself a plate of food, and get a seat for the main event – the final debate between the Blue Eagles of Ateneo de Manila University, and the Fighting Maroons of UP-Diliman. I am eager to see which side aligns more closely with the old English proverb: “Use soft words and hard arguments.”

I wish both sides the best of luck. And for everyone: Mabuhay kayong lahat at magandang gabi muli.

For more details on the social media buzz created by the event, follow us on Twitter and search #PIDCxADB.


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