Hannah Faith Saab of the Oriental Mindoro National High School won the national finals of the second Voice of Asia contest held on Wednesday at the Tanghalang Yaman Lahi theater of the Emilio Aguinaldo College in Manila.
Intelligence and eloquence were put to the test as 20 finalists from various regions competed in the national elimination round.
The finalists were winners from the regional level, and the top will advance to the national finals.
The students were asked “Who would be a better teacher in the English subject, an American teacher or a Filipino teacher?” Each contestant was given three minutes to prepare and another three minutes to answer.
Saab said that an American teacher may have an edge a native English speaker but she emphasized the qualities of a Filipino teacher who knows how to connect to a fellow Filipino.
During the semi-final round, Saab refuted the statement “It is better to study in a foreign country than in your own country.”
As a well-traveled student who has been to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong and actually sat down in classes to listen to the teachers in these countries, Saab said that it is still more fun to study in the Philippines.
“It’s really a matter of how the teachers communicate to the students,” She said.
During the finals, the five remaining students had to listen to a recorded speech. One speaker had to react to the recorded speech then another speaker had to react on the previous speaker’s statement and so on.
Reacting on ‘how education affects the lives of every individual, ’ Saab started her statement with a parody of a famous movie quote, “the Philippines is like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’re gonna get.”
“Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, every individual is good at something and is weak at something. So I think, that’s what the government aims to address with the K-12 program, which is setting us on track with what we’re really good at,” she said.
Saab will represent the country in the Voice of Asia International Speech Competition in February 2014.
The competition is facilitated by the Department of Education.
“The quality is better in this year’s Voice of Asia. The competition is more intense compared to last year. Last year, the winner stood out, it was hands down.
Now, there are a lot of strong speakers and it will be a tough decision to choose the winner,” said Dr. Isagani Cruz, the president of The Manila Times College and one of the judges in the event.
The finalists are Jamaica Ramos and Jaime Punzalan Mariano from Region 2; Jean Dominique Forlin and Marienne Bealine Halili from Region 3; Jaymee Ann De Tomas and Deriq Bernard Tribdino from Region 4-A; Hannah Faith Saab and Clairdey Beatrice Leachon from Region 4-B; Lean Rafael Cordera and Paul Mackey Marfil from Region 6; Alyssa Palencia and Jan Andre Aquino from Region 7; Prince Darius Una and Laurin Grace Dy from Region 8; Christopher James and Matthews de Carlos from Region 11; Liezel Mae Catadman and Kyra Marie Du from Region 12; and Lovejoy Tuguinoy and Bea Mandapat from the Cordillera Administrative Region.
Another judge, Dr. Bayani Santos Jr., who is a professor and Doctor of Philosophy, was impressed with the young students for exuding confidence and intelligence at such a young age.
“I could not believe it. The delivery and content of their speeches is very impressive. The vocal quality, content and stage presence of some of the contestants seemed like they’re professionals,” Santos said.
The contestants were understandably nervous despite weeks of preparation. “We underwent training such as vocal exercises, posture and movement training, and I was given a fact sheet by my coach,” Tribdino said.
“I was very nervous. This is my first speech competition so it’s understandable that I felt nervous. I researched different topics with my coach and did one on one sessions just like the competition. I think everyone is good and we are all on equal footing right now,” Palencia said.