“If I would be given the chance to choose one superpower to have, I will definitely choose the power to control and read minds.”
This was one powerful line that struck me most from the recently concluded English Language Oratorical Contest organized by the College of International Relations of the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila and KSearch Asia Consulting, Inc. I suddenly realized that all things happening in this world are caused by how people think and how they translate their ideas into action.
In more ways than one, the 12 finalists in the competition held last Monday, February 23, at the university’s Mini Theatre, invariably underscored such cause and effect syndrome as they tackled the sensitive topic of how people of different countries respond to violence, especially those inflicted by terrorists. Now on its eighth annual edition, the competition last Monday created anew a forum where orators from the College of International Relations demonstrated their special talents and abilities to take on a sensitive topic and deliver their respective stands on such sensitive issues. These, after all, are in keeping with the objective of the competition, i.e., to create a compelling need for our youth to develop fluency in the English language so as to express with passion and impact their sentiments about issues of national consequence.
The contestants made direct reference to three major events that stirred the sensitivities of most people in the world: (i) the horrible killing of 12 French journalists working for Charlie Hebdon, a satirical newspaper, which ostensibly mocked the Islamic world by its comical cartoon of the image of their prophet, Muhammad, (ii) the notorious Maguindanao Massacre where scores of Filipinos, including several journalists, were murdered, and (iii) the recent merciless entrapment of our national police contingent while on its mission to capture a notorious terrorist where in the process 44 commandos belonging to the elite Special Action Forces perished.
It was commendable how each of the participants capably made their respective stands on the issues, as it was also interesting how their views differed in a constructive sense in how France, and practically all of Europe in general, responded to the Charlie Hebdon horror compared with how the Filipinos reacted to the Maguindanao atrocities. One contestant stressed that regardless of how big or small the number of people are killed, the main responsibility of a state is to protect and promote the national interest of its people. Most of the contestants highlighted how France made a bigger difference in its quick and comprehensive response and how the French government showed its resolve to serve justice to the victims. They compared the somewhat weak widespread reaction from the public regarding the Maguindanao massacre and went on to criticize the prolonged determination of the case against the perpetrators, thus delaying any form of justice to the victims. They thus expressed their scepticism that a similar lack of urgency might happen in rendering justice to the tragedy that befell the 44 SAF fatalities.
All the 12 finalists gave a good account of themselves – detailing the factors that made up their viewpoints and articulating themselves with remarkable proficiency in the English language. First place winner Riza Grace Celiz quickly engaged her audience, making them relate to the importance and urgency of providing a system of security for every citizen every minute. It is vital, she argued, that the citizens are convinced that their government leaders have their protection and safety in their priority. When such sense of security is empty, she added, the forces of evil inevitably surface.
It was only last year that I, too, was a finalist in this KSearch-inspired and sponsored oratorical contest, so I couldn’t help but listen to this year’s batch of contestants with bated breath and much enthusiasm. Now that I am in the so-called “real world” of business and with a company that eminently values the importance of good English communication skills, I can attest that, indeed, superior English communication skills will give you a distinct competitive edge. As I now belong to Ksearch, I am proud that our firm continues to support this admirable activity. We especially commend Ambassador Dean Reynaldo O. Arcilla for his own relentless determination to help the CIR students to become proficient in the English language. He had inspired me no end to love and appreciate its beauty and benefits.
Aside from the thrust to promote proficiency in the English language, the oratorical contest project allows the students to be challenged to address and tackle large issues that carry elements of national and even global consequence, as well as being compelled to take their own positions on the issues which they must defend. In the process, one’s research skills with special attention to seeking certain facts and figures are inevitably equally sharpened as well.
Our Chairman, Mr. Mario T. Mananghaya, represented KSearch in the event. My office colleague, Dave Paje, also a previous finalist in the competition some four years ago, made the “real-world pitch”, urging the student audience to be serious at improving their English skills, this being so vital in job search and career progressions whether in the private or public sector. Mr. Mananghaya spearheaded the panel of Judges which was composed otherwise by the senior faculty members of the College of International Relations.
KSearch Search Associate
Lyceum University of the Philippines , College of International Relations, 2014