Ateneo de Manila Senior High School (ASHS) debaters Naomi Ang (12-Miki) & Anton Abiera (12-Bobola) won the championship at the 2022 Cambridge Schools Finals Day on 20 March 2022, marking the first time in history that an Asian institution has won the prestigious debate tournament. Ang was also recognized as the tournament’s 9th best speaker.
Fellow ASHS debaters David Bejarin (12-Grodecky) & Johann Bernardo (12-Bobola) narrowly missed the competitive break after four preliminary rounds. Bernardo was in Cambridge while Bejarin competed virtually from Metro Manila.
On their journey to the championship, the finalists debated on topics such as environmentalism, social policies, media, and democracy. In the Grand Finals, Ang &Abiera debated on the theme of sociocultural issues and social movements. They ultimately secured the win as the Opening Government in the Grand Finals against Eton College, Westminster School and Wellington College.
Ang, Abiera, and Bernardo flew to Cambridge, United Kingdom on 17 March 2022 to compete in-person at the historic Cambridge Union Building. Built in 1815, it is the oldest speaking Union in the world. It holds a strong tradition of contentious debates and the esteem of notable speakers who have addressed the Union, including the Dalai Lama, US President Ronald Reagan, and Stephen Hawking, to name a few. This is the second time Ateneo de Manila Senior High School debaters have competed at this tournament in-person, with Julia Ocoma& Matti Tan making the Grand Finals back in 2017.
Very few teams get to compete in the Finals Day, as only the top teams of different regional competitions held around the world are invited to the culminating tournament. In the leadup to the championship, ASHS teams competed against debaters from all around the world in the Cambridge Asia BP Southeast Asia Championships, where they landed among the top teams and qualified for the Finals Day. Ang &Abiera were the eventual champions in this regional tournament as the highest-ranking team, while Bejarin& Bernardo also reached the final and ranked right behind them. Ang, Bejarin, and Bernardo were also recognized as the preceding tournament’s Overall Best Speakers in a three-way-tie, while Abiera was named 4th Best Open Speaker.
The debaters extend their gratitude to their families for their unwavering support and guidance. They also thank coaches Tim Gamez, Julia Ocoma, Ryan Oquiza, Miguel Sulit, Miguel Yulo, and their moderator, Luigi Alcañeses, for training them for the competition. Additionally, they would like to thank the ASHS Office of Student Affairs and the Cambridge Union for giving our debaters the opportunity to show their talents. They express their appreciation towards ASHS administrators Mr. Noel P. Miranda, Mrs. Jennifer Alarcon Concepcion, Mr. Luis Allan B. Melosantos and Mrs. Inez Louisa C. Crisostomo for the special considerations granted to members of the contingent. Lastly, they would also like to express gratitude to the Valenzuela City government for financial assistance.
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