Baguio boy leads PHL win in WUDC
There’s no stopping Baguio’s Robert Nelson “Tobi” Leung in making his mark as a young student achiever and debater, after he and his team won the World Universities Debating Championship 2023, the world’s largest debating tournament.
Leung, son of doctors JP and Ana Leung, along with teammate David Africa of the Ateneo de Manila University Team A, made history in Madrid, Spain during the tournament held from Dec. 27, 2022 to Jan. 3 that attracted more than 260 debate teams from all over the globe.
Both are BS Applied Mathematics students of ADMU, where Leung is a second year student.
Leung and Africa bested teams from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, National University of Singapore, and London School of Economics.
During the grand finals, they defeated teams from Sofia University from Bulgaria, Tel Aviv University from Israel, and Princeton University from the United States.
Leung was also named second best speaker while Africa ranked eighth.
Based on reports, the competing teams debated on whether it is preferable to have a “world where all persons have a strong belief in the philosophy of Ubuntu.”
Ubuntu can be described as an African philosophy that places emphasis on “being self through others.” It is a form of humanism which can be expressed in the phrases “I am because of who we all are” and “ubuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” in Zulu language.
The duo was tasked to challenge this philosophy.
According to Scoutmag.ph, in challenging the argument of Bulgaria, the opening government, which said “no man is an island,” “Africa said the primary source of a person’s identity should be the ability to dictate themselves and their primary obligations are to themselves. Leung then supported this motion by further explaining how the ubuntu philosophy “alienates you from your very sense of self” and “discourages you from discovering your own preferences.”
In its official social media account, ADMU announced it is the first time ever that a team from the Philippines or Southeast Asia has won the prestigious tournament.
“My heartfelt congratulations to David Africa and Tobi Leung of our Ateneo Debate Society on their unprecedented, inspiring victory at the World Universities Debating Championship. Their win is proof that our debaters can stand head and shoulders above their peers from some of the best universities in the world. Thank you, David and Tobi, for the immense pride you have brought to the Ateneo community, to our nation, and to the Southeast Asia region. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!” said ADMU President Fr. Roberto C Yap SJ in Ateneo’s official Facebook account.
Leung has been shining as an excellent debater since his younger years while he was a scholar of Philippine Science High School (PSHS)-Cordillera.
He spent his elementary years at Baguio Achievers Academy where he excelled in academics.
He had made history for becoming the first Filipino to be awarded the Overall Best Speaker and bagged the gold medal during the World Schools Debate Championships (WSDC) 2021 held via Zoom from July 26 to Aug. 6, 2021 and hosted by Macau.
Then 17 years old, Leung garnered 73.17 speaker points in eight preliminary debate rounds, besting 372 students from 76 participating countries in the contest considered the Olympics of high school debate.
Prior to the WSDC 2021, Leung and his team competed in the 7th Oldham Cup 2021 from April 3 to May 2 where he was also adjudged Overall Best Speaker and Best Reply Speaker, among other debating competitions for students.
Leung, who comes from a science-oriented family and achievers, also made history for Baguio when he graduated in June 2021 from PSHS-Cordillera with a 1.03 general weighted average, the highest in his campus and the entire PSHS system.
The PSHS System congratulated Leung, describing him as first of its kind and a Pisay-Cordillera alumnus with superb achievement. – Hanna C. Lacsamana