March 22, 2023

Baguio’s Robert Nelson “Toby” Leung, who recently aced his graduation as a scholar of Philippine Science High School (PSHS)-Cordillera and garnered the highest weighted general average among all PSHS campuses nationwide, has added another feather on his cap, this time again as a debater.
Leung 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 and hosted by Macau.
According to details posted in the official Facebook page of the World Schools Philippines Debate Team, the 17-year-old Leung has 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.
This is the first time the country bagged the title.
Leung is part of Team Philippines whose other members also landed in the “Top 25 Best Speakers,” namely David Andres Bloom from International School Manila who placed fourth overall best speaker; Jacob Peralta of Southridge High School, sixth place; and Riva Gerola Fong from De La Salle Zobel at 11th place.
The team landed as one of the two semifinalists and officially the fourth place, with Singapore at third place in the event topped by Canada and Hong Kong as runner-up.
The Philippines also bagged the bronze medal for reaching semifinals for the second time, which it first achieved in 2012.
This is also the fifth consecutive year Team PH broke into the WSDC knockout rounds, which means it maintains its status as category A team for next year.
Topics debated on include commercialization of space, the right of Olympic athletes to protest, reducing income tax rates for women, and Westernization of elites in post-colonial countries.
“Hopefully, debate becomes more popular and widely recognized as a sport,” the World Schools Philippines Debate Team said in an Aug. 14 post as it thanked those who supported the team.
In its official social media page, the PSHS system congratulated Leung for his achievement.
Leung, who comes from a science-oriented family and achievers, graduated last June from PSHS-Cordillera with a 1.03 GWA, the highest in his campus and the entire PSHS system.
Prior to the WCDS 2021, Toby 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.
In a previous interview, Leung described himself as a normal student with typical study habits. – Hanna C. Lacsamana