By Masiding Noor Yahya
Over 100 young and talented debaters and public speakers from different schools within and outside Bicol are expected to join the first online Bicol-wide public speaking workshop and competition named after Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima on March 27, Saturday, from 1pm to 7pm, via Zoom video conference.
Dubbed “Leila de Lima Cup,” the public speaking workshop and competition spearheaded by the Universidad de Sta. Isabel (USI) Libertas & Debate Society with the theme “Amplifying our Voices through Public Speaking” registered participants from junior high school, senior high school, and college levels.
According to the USI Debate Society, they named the event after De Lima not only because of her excellent public speaking skill but also because of her courage to speak out and fight against injustice.
“Leila de Lima is a public servant, a Bicolana, a speaker, a legislator, but most importantly, she is a woman who carried the blood of women before her, who carried the weight off oppression from men who were threatened by the power she holds.”
“She is a woman who was silenced for being vocal, for being critical, for standing out. She was defamed and scandalized by men who ruled the walls of power,” USI Debate Society posted on the official Facebook page for the event.
“There is a Leila de Lima in you and every one of us. That is exactly why she is the perfect figure of public speaking that defies the odds and rises above the shackles to tremble the incompetence in public office,” they added.
USI Debate Society said that the aim of the “Leila de Lima Cup” is to change the world through sharpened words that are “strong enough to break glass ceilings, yet passionate enough to draw others in raising their voice too.”
“In our status quo, public speaking is the sharpest weapon that can pierce through any plains of dialogue and discourse, with our words and ideas as our bullets, aimed to penetrate barriers for a far greater cause,” they said.
De Lima, who remains unjustly detained over trumped-up drug charges, is expected to give her opening remarks for the Leila de Lima Cup to be delivered by her youngest brother Vicente “Vicboy” M. de Lima II.
Several personalities are expected to grace the online event as speakers, namely, Hans Xavier Wong, Executive Secretary of the Philippine Debate Union (PDU) and youth Petitioner against the Anti-Terror Law; Mikee De Vega, former PDU President; and Bobby Quitain, lawyer, law professor and Catholic lay preacher.
De Lima, who hails from Iriga City, Camarines Sur, said she is humbled by the efforts of USI Debate Society to spearhead an event named after her which showed their support for her causes.
“I am grateful for the organizers and dedicated individuals behind this inspired Leila de Lima Cup. I know that investing efforts in the talents of youth can make a great difference,” she said. (PR)