ASHS Debaters reign supreme in Asia after ASDC triumph
The Asian Debate title is back home in Ateneo High School! Comprised of Ateneo de Manila Senior High School students Renz Reyes (12-A), Luigi Alcañeses (12-A), and Hans Gonzalez (11 HUMMS-Hoyos), Ateneo 1 was crowned champion of the 8th Asian Schools Debate Championship (ASDC) in Malaysia on June 11, 2016 after emerging victorious throughout the competition's nine rounds. In the Grand Final, they debated against Singapore Debate Development Program Team 1—a top debating institution in Asia—on the motion, “This house regrets the rise of alteration products and services targeted to alter one’s skin.” The ASHS debaters were on the affirmative side of the motion. Before a panel of nine judges, they were declared as the new champions on a 5-4 split decision. Renz Reyes was named Best Speaker of the Grand Final—the first time in ASDC history that a Filipino has achieved this award against a foreign team. The win is especially gratifying for Renz Reyes, who came very close to winning ASDC in 2015, after losing the Grand Final by only one vote on a 4-3 split decision against a team from Malaysia.
Ateneo 1 also set another record by becoming the first Filipino team in ASDC history to emerge after six preliminary rounds with a perfect, undefeated record. Ateneo High School, as an institution, also tied the record for being only the second high school in Asia to win at least two Asian Championships. AHS last won ASDC in 2010, represented by Vincent Soriano (4A 2012), Javier Pablo (4A 2013), and Anton Sison (4N 2013). That AHS team in 2010 was the last Filipino team to bring ASDC debating glory to the Philippines. AHS also holds the record for having the most appearances in the ASDC Grand Final with a total of five (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016).
Renz Reyes was also named as the 4th Best Speaker in Asia, while Luigi Alcaneses was named as the 5th Best Speaker in Asia. AHS also reaped individual awards in the Novice Category as well, for first time debaters at ASDC. JC Cruz (12-L) was named 3rd Best Novice Speaker, Carlos Tiu (12-A) the 7th Best, and Red Nadela (12-A) the 8th Best Speaker. Cruz, Tiu, and Nadela—all representing Ateneo 3—also earned the distinction of breaking into the Novice Semifinals.
Team Ateneo 4, comprised of Lorenzo Lazaro (12-A), Phil Javellana (12-H), and Matti Tan (10-A) was the only other Ateneo team to break into the very difficult elimination rounds. After pulling off many upsets over several strong teams from all over Asia, they faced eventual champion Ateneo 1 in the quarterfinals, where they lost on the slimmest of margins on a 2-1 split decision. Team Ateneo 2, comprised of Nicky Solis (12-B), Ervin Grana (12-L), and Paulo Valencia (12-N) competed in ASDC as well, and ranked among the teams with the highest total individual speaker points. Though they were unable to make the final eight teams, they were still remembered by many as a Final Four team in last year’s ASDC.
The other major achievement of the Ateneo contingent was delivered by Ateneo Junior High School (AJHS) Grade 10 student Matti Tan, who won 1st Place Overall in the Public Speaking competition segment of ASDC. This competition involves making brief speeches on a variety of topics, often comedic in nature. This year’s Public Speaking tilt proved to be the most intense in ASDC history. Against over 100 participants, throughout 3 preliminary rounds, a semifinal, and a final round of the 9 best public speakers, Matti Tan became the first Atenean and only the second Filipino ever to win the competition. His wit, charisma, and quick thinking helped him score the highest total marks in the judges’ criteria. Luigi Alcañeses also reached the finals and was awarded a trophy as the third place winner. Hans Gonzalez, JC Cruz, and Phil Javellana all made the Semifinal stage of this segment of the competition.
The team of Reyes, Alcañeses, and Gonzalez has won every debate competition where they have been teammates. The Asian Championship is their fourth debate championship as a team, winning the Balboa Cup, Ped Xing Debate Competition, and Rotary National Debate Championship last school year. Another truly impressive statistic is that this team has not lost a single debate round in these four tournaments, compiling an impressive 30-0 cumulative win-loss record.
The ASDC is the most prestigious debate competition in the entire Asian region. Debaters from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, India, China, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and other countries compete annually for a shot at being crowned reigning Asian champions. The 8th ASDC was hosted by the Methodist Boys School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from June 5 to 12, 2016. The tournament used the Asian Parliamentary Format, which features two teams of three members each debating against each other on a particular motion. This year, 44 teams battled it out through six preliminary rounds, after which the eight best teams competed in 3 elimination rounds.
The AHS debaters were accompanied by coaches Miguel Ventura, Henry Fernando, Bas Claudio, Josiah Encinas, Jim Bulan, and Clyde Maramba. The team would like to extend its gratitude to Mrs. Hannah Bautista-Gonzalez and Dr. Rosalina Palanca-Tan, who accompanied and supported the team in Kuala Lumpur. The team also extends its gratitude to its moderator, Mrs. Fe De Jesus, of the ASHS English Department, for her constant mentorship for the team. Finally, the Ateneo Debaters extend their sincere gratitude to Mr. Noel Miranda of the Senior High School Office of Student Activities (SHS OSA), Ms. Kristine Valdellon of the AJHS OSA, and the entire high school community, for its logistical support, without which the journey to Malaysia would not have been possible.
The team is currently preparing for its upcoming tournaments as a new debating season begins.