April 29, 2012

The Debate Workshop, in More Detail

Filed under: Uncategorized — by aalanis12345 @ 7:33 am

AS I TOLD YOU IN MY LAST POST, my mother took me along with her to a debate workshop/training for 2nd to 4th year students at Naga City Science High School she was engaged to teach. Since I didn’t have so much to do at home, and it would give me some much-needed exposure so I could join the school’s debating circle, I thought, Why not? Besides, I didn’t really have to join; all I had to do was take down notes.

There were two sessions: the morning session from 7:30 to 11:30, and the afternoon session from 1:00 to 5:00. At first she wanted me to come only during one of the sessions, depending on what time I woke up, but later she decided I could come every session. I realized that both groups were really different despite the fact that they reviewed the same topics. The morning group was larger and therefore more impersonal, and some got to be heard more than others.  The shy ones could take refuge in the faint hope that they couldn’t be singled out for attention. The afternoon group was the polar opposite. But one thing they had in common was that the students really seemed to enjoy it, and there were promising debaters in both sessions. I enjoyed being there, but at the same time I would often feel very self-conscious since, well, they were older. What if I do something stupid? What if they laugh at me? Is my hair decent? Yet all in all it was real fun. Cases in point:

A few days ago, the afternoon class debated on the topic: Should God hate Sweden? While the morning class didn’t really have a “debate” on that topic (they just made speeches) in the afternoon class things got really heated!!!!! The affirmative side defined God as “the world” and said that God should hate them. At that point Lanie* got up and asked, “You say God is ‘the world’. What did Sweden do to the world?”

Yesterday, Mama asked them to form groups of three for a debate. I can’t really remember the groups formed by the afternoon class but here are the groups in the morning class:

1st Match: Team Ba vs. Bremelraux

2nd Match: FPJ vs. Unfathomable

3rd Match: Moron 3 vs. The Avengers

4th Match: Pork BBQ vs. Team Pura

Wacky names!

In the afternoon class, they had this debate about whether countries that have the capacity should clone humanity’s dead geniuses. The affirmative side (The Fudge) said that they should clone only “good” geniuses. The negative side (The Bourgeoisie) replied, “You said ‘good’ geniuses. Well, Adolf Hitler is considered a ‘good’ military genius…at killing people.” Smart reasoning. (The Bourgeoisie won that match.)


Drew was among the high school students who joined the debate training. He was one of the very few kids (actually they’re not really kids) I knew by name. The reason: I had met him several times before.

The first time was when I was in 5th grade at Central. My classmates and I were on the way to the LRV Pavilion to watch a Nutrition Month program. While we were entering it I saw my classmate talking to a boy wearing the parochial school’s uniform. The first thing I noticed was that he looked okay from the side view but not as good from the front. We sat in the row behind him. A few minutes into the program some of the girls told me to ask him if he spoke English. I did so, and then he turned to face me and asked, “Yes, why?” That was all I heard him say until this training rolled around. Later, just before my father came to pick me up from school, I was able to hear his name being called from the stage: Drew Santos.

The next time I saw him was during the Division Press Conference. I was the only fifth grader in the school’s delegation of sixth graders, the majority of whom were girls. During break time, we were all seated on a railing watching the parochial school’s delegation, with Drew among them. It was very hot, but he was still wearing a black jacket. I said nothing while the girls teased him for being gay (but I don’t think he was), for wearing a jacket, and the red design on his wristband. (“He’s really gay. See that? Those are polka dots.” “No, those are hearts!”) The other boys were also skewered. Then I learned that he was going to compete in the same event as me (feature writing, English) I placed third; he placed first.

Then off we went to the regional press conference. As it turned out, he was there, and so were all the girls who teased him about being gay. And I was also right when I predicted they would skewer him more. It was helped by the fact that their room was right next door to ours, though in another building (we were housed in a public school in Baao.) During the whole length of our stay, when they saw him, the girls present would once again call him gay, plus more. (“Drew, have you gone hiking?” [He and the other parochial boys were standing outside, having come from going around town, and he was wearing his jacket] “To tell if he’s gay, tell him to look at his fingernails.”) Like the previous press con, we were both competing in feature writing, but this time the place turned out different: he placed fifth, I placed eighth. Almost none of our delegation even placed at all.

Fast forward between one and two years.

During the 2nd day of the training, I finally got to see him again. I had to join their group since there were too few of them. That half scared and at the same time half thrilled me.

While we were starting the deliberation on the topic, another boy in the group started taking big bites of his Dewberry cookies. After a few minutes Drew said, “You are what you eat. Does that mean that cannibals are the only true humans?” (The other boy was rather fat.) I wanted to counter with this joke, “‘My brother always eats beef. That’s why he’s as strong as an ox.’ ‘Oh yeah? My brother always eats fish but until now he can’t swim!'” But he might have rebutted with, “Swimming is not developed by the eating of certain foods. Strength can, to an extent.” So I kept quiet.

A little while later the fat boy noticed Drew’s very white shoes and said something like, “I like your new shoes.” He replied with, “They’re not new, they’re newly cleaned.” “Still, the word is new!”

That day, we had a debate on, “THBT: President Aquino should remain a bachelor for the duration of his term.” Not only did he do his part as first speaker, at the end he actually commented on the opposition’s arguments when that should’ve been my job (I was whip.)

The day after that, while we were having the debate about Sweden (see above) he passed me this note:

If 80% of Swedish-atheists/agnostics

2% go to church


I wrote back to him that what I meant by 2% was the percentage of members of the Church of Sweden that went to church regularly, not the percentage of the whole Swedish population. In the back of my mind I was thinking, “80+2+10???? That equals only 92, not 100!!! And that is coming from an incoming 2nd year high school student!” But I didn’t say it out loud.

And when he’s debating, oh my God…he’s a really convincing speaker. He can bluff his way around although he may not have any actual substance. In the case of the Sweden thing, for example, I personally believed that God shouldn’t hate Sweden. But after their debate, which ended in a deadlock, I was starting to lean towards the affirmative side!

One of the things I like about him is that he doesn’t stutter when he talks. You see, I stutter a lot, especially when I’m nervous. When I listened to him talk, I wondered if he even got nervous. Here’s another thing: even though my mother says he’s really average, he is really good at appearing intelligent. If only I had that ability! (Some might argue that I’m already intelligent, but “intelligence” is relative.)

I’ll be back later with some more posts, so hold on to your hats!

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.


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