Philippine team wins international debate tournament

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 04 2023 12:01 PM | Updated as of Jan 04 2023 03:45 PM

The Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City. ABS-CBN News/File
The Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) — A team from the Ateneo de Manila University won in the latest World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC), the first time that delegates from the Philippines emerged as victors in the international debate tournament.

Debate team Ateneo A, composed of David Demitri Africa and Tobi Leung, took first place in the competition's grand finals, held early Wednesday (Manila time) in Madrid, Spain.

The duo bested teams from Princeton University (United States), Sofia University (Bulgaria) and Tel Aviv University (Israel) in the finals.

The teams debated whether or not it was preferable to have "a world where all individuals have a strong belief in Ubuntu."

Ubuntu, which means "I am because we are," is a philosophical belief which "asserts that people's identities should be shaped by, and their obligations should primarily be owed to, their communities," based on a presentation shown during the finals.

Leung was named the second-best speaker while Africa ranked eighth. Tel Aviv University's Hadar Goldberg, meanwhile, won best speaker.

Ateneo University President Fr. Roberto Yap congratulated Africa and Leung, who both study applied mathematics, for their win.

"Their win is proof that our debaters can stand head and shoulders above their peers from some of the best universities in the world," Yap said in a statement posted on Ateneo's Facebook page.

This year marks the 43rd edition of the WUDC, considered the world's biggest debating tournament. It is hosted by the World Universities Debating Council.

The competition follows the British Parliamentary format, with the topics being made public only 15 minutes prior to the start of the debates.