UP Debate Society

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The UP Debate Society is a non-stock, non-profit organization whose purpose is to train and field students in the University of the Philippines Diliman to represent the institution in local as well as international tournaments. Its goal is to encourage the fearless and critical analysis of relevant issues in the Philippines as well as in the international scene. The UP Debate Society (UPDS) was established in October 1993 as a full-fledged organization dedicated to debating excellence.

In its 14 years of existence, the Society has received numerous debate and public speaking achievements both in local and international tournaments including winning the title as National Debating Champions of 2006.

Aside from the Society's long tradition of debate excellence, it has also sought to immerse its members in various socio-civic programs. Moreover, UPDS travels around the country to facilitate debate seminars to various high schools and colleges. In the previous years, the UPDS went to Ilocos, Romblon, and Banuar to facilitate large-scale debate seminars. In Metro Manila, the Society regularly holds Fast Forward, an advanced debate and seminar/workshop for both high school and college students. The Society also organizes Take A Stand, a basic debate program to strengthen critical thinking and public speaking skills among the youth.

In 2002 the UP Debate Society officially expanded its thrust by institutionalizing a project to promote the fearless expression of ideas, not just in UP but across the nation. Thus was born the Inquirer Inter-Collegiate Debating Championships, a partnership between the UPDS and the nation's leading broadsheet, the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In 2006. this later evolved into the Philippine Inter-collegiate Debating Championship, a truly national debate competition celebrating Filipino Minds and their Boundless Perspectives.

As it approaches its 15th year, the UPDS continues to get stronger and better at bringing pride to the University and advancing an informed and critical habit among the youth.


The University of the Philippines, as the country’s premiere educational institution, has maintained a long tradition of intellectual freedom. With the diversity of beliefs and ideologies that can be found in the campus, the art of argumentation has long been held in high esteem. Debating has itself become a tradition in the University, as members of the academic and student community seek to resolve their differences of opinion by presenting reasonable and persuasive arguments to various fora.

In such a vibrant environment, there were several unsuccessful attempts to revive the UP Debate Club of the Commonwealth era. But in October of 1993, one attempt finally bore fruit. Veterans of the Pi Sigma Open, an annual inter-college debate competition in UP, as well as several Speech Communication majors responded to Professor Ramona Flores’s call to institutionalize the art of debating in the University by establishing the UP Debate Society.

The formation of the Society was spearheaded by 17 individuals committed to institutionalizing the art of debate by establishing an official student organization in the University dedicated to its practice. Anna Alfaro was the Society’s founding President, while Jonathan Malaya and Katherine Napalinga were elected Vice President and Scribe. The Society’s other founding members were AA Albano, JR Basa, Che Botin, Quelly Cacnio, Rommel Casis, Carol Cezar, Manolet de Jesus, Dennis Edano, Charles Imon, Charo Logarta, Fred Makabenta, Cris Martin, Aileen Salonga, and Mildred Solis. Professor Ramona Flores became the Society’s first faculty advisor. After its recognition by the Office of Student Activities, the UP Debate Society was declared UP Diliman’s official representative to tournaments and competitions here and abroad.

One of the earliest achievements of UPDS was the establishment of the Philippine Parliamentary Debate Union together with the Ateneo Debate Society. Driven by their desire to strengthen parliamentary debating in the Philippines, these two debate societies formed their alliance to represent the Philippines in the Worlds Universities Debating Council, the largest debate organization in the world. Jonathan Malaya of UPDS was chosen as the PPDU’s founding chairperson, while Anna Alfaro was given the position of Minister for Human Resources.

UPDS has also sought to immerse its members in various socio-civic and outreach programs. Noteworthy are the gift-giving to young patients of the National Children’s Hospital and the involvement of UPDS in the Barren Tree Drive during the Christmas of 1998. The Society has also been active in donations to orphanages and children’s home, showing that its vigor is not limited to debating alone.

But it is in debating where the members of the Society have poured their effort and dedication, and this is where the University can be rightfully proud of its Debate Society’s achievements. Members of UPDS have thrice won the Pi Sigma Open Debate Cup, an annual University-wide debate tournament hosted by the Pi Sigma Fraternity.

UPDS has also regularly garnered awards in local and international tournaments such as the National Debate Championships and All-Asians Intervarsity Debate Championship. Both the debaters and the adjudicators of UP Debsoc have been recognized as some of the best both in the Philippines and in the larger Asian and international debating arena. UPDS alumni Dianne Desierto and Arnell Uychoco emerged as the champions of the 8th All-Asians held in the College of St. Benilde during May of 2001, while Tatsuyuki Munetomo was acknowledged as the top adjudicator of the 2nd Nationals held in Ateneo de Manila. Most recently, UPDS dominated the roster of the Top Asian debaters, having four UPDS debaters in the Asian Top Ten. All competitive UP teams also made it to the tournament’s Finals Series, while the Top Philippine Adjudicator is also from UPDS.

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