A TENTH-GRADER from Taiwan on Wednesday emerged as the best impromptu speaker in the 2nd Voice of Asia speech competition international finals.
Joanne Guo, a 16-year-old student from Shin Min High School in Taichung, bested other contestants from South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines in the contest held at the Tanghalang Yaman Lahi auditorium of the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) in Manila.
Guo said she never expected to win because the other contestants were also good speakers.
“I never thought of being the champion in this contest. I didn’t expect I would win,” Guo said. “Right now I feel excited. I was surprised but at the same time I feel amazed.”
The Philippines’ Hannah Faith Saab, a fourth-year student from Oriental Mindoro National High School, finished 1st runner-up, Kevin Jang from South Korea, 2nd runner-up and Nguyen Hung Binh from Vietnam was in fourth place.
Saab said she was thankful and proud for her runner-up finish in the face of stiff competition.
“I feel that I learned a lot of things from this competition though I didn’t emerge winner. I am so very thankful for the opportunity to actually win in an international competition,” she added.
The Voice of Asia Speech competition is a joint project of The Manila Times College (TMTC) and The Manila Times, in cooperation with EAC, and is supported by the Department of Education.
Each contestant was asked to deliver an extemporaneous speech on a specific topic.
Saab plans to take up Broadcast Communication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. She dreams of becoming a successful news anchor.
Dr. Isagani Cruz, TMTC president, said the Voice of Asia competition is aimed at promoting peace among different countries.
“This is the ultimate goal of this competition. It’s about peace,” Dr. Cruz added.
“The idea is about people-to-people exchange. They come together and they become friends with their fellow contestants,” he said.
Dr. Cruz added that he expects more countries to join next year’s competition.
“We’re hoping that by next year we will have a lot more interest. There’s a conflict with the school year, so by next year we will hold it in a different month to make sure that they will come and participate,” he said.
Dr. Jose Paulo Campos, EAC president, said the competition helps build the confidence of the students in speaking before a huge crowd.
“The most important is, it builds confidence for students, especially in our country and culture,” Campos added. In a classroom, the students’ chance to articulate their views is sometimes limited, “and that can be negative. It doesn’t encourage articulating their views and opinions,” he said.
The format of the Voice of Asia “is creative because instead of people speaking about the same topic it’s almost like American Idol [a singing competition held in the United States]. The topic changes from person to person, depending on the position of the last person. You have to be very quick,” Campos added.
The contestants do not have a prepared speech. “In that sense, you have to be quite knowledgeable in many areas,” he said.
Now on its third year, the Voice of Asia started with the proposal of Dr. Cruz and Dr. Dante A. Ang, chairman emeritus of The Manila Times, for an impromptu speech competition.
Students from Grades 9 to 11 take part in the contest.
It began in August last year with the school and division level selection. It was open to Filipinos in 3rd- and 4th-year high school or Grades 11 and 12 for senior high model schools.
This year’s grand winner received a trophy, a medal and a full scholarship for a dual-degree program from the EAC and TMTC. EAC will offer a Mass Communication degree while TMTC offers AB Journalism.
The first runner-up and the second runner-up were awarded a medal and a half scholarship for a dual-degree program, while the fourth placer received a partial scholarship and a medal.