Working Weekends (Debate, AIESEC and)

lovely things. Welcome to my life.


Late June this year I made a decision that I knew would change my future irrevocably. Dramatic? Yes. But also true. I stepped into a conference room and found myself saying yes to the challenge and love of debate. I applied to the UP Manila Debate Circle. 

Three things, first:

  1. UPMDC is one of the best organizations existing in our university. I always knew, intellectually, that college debaters operated in a different dimension of sharpness and intelligence than high school debaters. But it was in that conference room, and outside it (during dinners and walks and online), that I saw the genius of the members. Everyone had their particular strengths as a debater and adjudicator, but the tendency to speak out and speak words of quality and impact was common to all. So, good choice. I wanted to be among those ranks of persuasive intellectuals.
  2. I tried applying first year of college. I crashed. I was basically a blob of nothingness my first year, with no org works under my belt. But it was strangely reminiscent of my high school experience –no org in first year, and sudden activism in second to fourth. I’ve been asked for a reason, and I really couldn’t give out an easy one. Why didn’t I continue with my application? I don’t know. It’s irrational. I was scared of the number of people in that small room. I felt boxed in and immobile. But I grew up in the months since, and I grew up just in time to dive head first into this new commitment. I’m definitely not backing out now.
  3. I love debate. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of winning and losing and, more importantly, evolving. You learn in debate. You learn how to speak and how to project and how to be more. And when debate loves you back nothing else matters.

So debate has eaten up several hours of my life which were previously devoted to sleeping in my bed in my house. Gladly given, obviously (but I do regret the outbreak of stress blemishes and eye bags).


I’m sure that I’m not allowed to actually reveal select details about the application process. But it’s been such a constant part of my daily life this past quarter that I need to share it.

For every week after my application began, I went up to the confe room at least once a week and at most 4 times. I never could get the hang of Mondays, and as a result I’ve never sat through a single lecture or even met some of the members.

A lot of the things made applying for UPMDC worthwhile and absolutely not regrettable. For one thing, I improved as a debater and as an adjudicator (I hope). I entered the process with 3 years of debating but 1 year of basically forgetting all about how to do it. I was rusty, creaky, and basically full of myself, and more than that I was definitely not up to the college standard of debating. I had to let go of some hang-ups and high school styles. I had to improve in clarity and in conveying emotion, in progression of arguments and in sharpness of rebuttals. And I still need to improve on all those things and more.

For another, I had the distinct pleasure of interacting with people who I could say are like-minded but also in an entirely different realm of thinking. All of them were smart, even the applicants, and everyone had their own particular flair. It was challenging and intimidating at turns, but it made me want all the more. I want to be part of this circle of intellectuals. I want to experience this “family” deal they were talking about, and which I glimpsed into when I spent time outside members and apps beyond the confe room.

I’m growing up.


Aside: I had to get battle ready. ;)
Aside: I had to get battle ready. ;)

There’s late and embarrassing, and then there’s late and embarrassing. Philippine Debate Open 2013, a tournament open to college and high-school level national and international schools, could have gone much better. It was held August 24 to 26, taking up three days of precious weekend time (though to be fair the week before that had next to zero classes because of typhoon Maring).

Basically, what went wrong? Things began very late. We arrived in the venue, Malayan High School of Science, past 8 with respect to the 9 am call time. The tourney officially moved forward just before lunch time, and we ate lunch first anyways. I think. The food was not very good. Some of the members opted to walk some meters out to grab more palatable meals. The rooms were either not air-conditioned or the air-conditioning units in the rooms were positioned to make you as cold as humanly possible. The adjudicators were surprisingly very, uhm, not good. It infuriated me at several points of the tournament because bad adjudicators led to unjust scores. I expected too much, coming off from high school debate experience. My teammate and I almost didn’t break, because we fell one point short of the sure break score. We got zeroes in rounds when I knew my teammate could never deserve a zero in the first place.

But then again. Some things did go well.

I was partnered with Mr. Elmer, who I never really call Mr., but it sounds cute in my head. He’s definitely a senior member of the circle, but amazingly enough he became my teammate. There was a chance we wouldn’t have even gone through with the tournament, but we did, and I am intensely grateful for it. We proceeded to the octofinals, after crying our hearts out metaphorically, but then again we had hangovers so we never really got past that round. Also my whip speech was really bad, just at a barely above average grade. I got to bond with other members and applicants over bad experiences, weird debates and some spots of good food (bacon cheesesticks!). I saw Mikee again after centuries, and she was really good. At least, she was a better debater than I met her. Different, since she gave a PM speech in the round where we were against each other, but still the same awesome person.

In conclusion, I hope to go to more tournaments all the time. The only thing stopping me is the money thing. It’s expensive as hell.

Credit: UP Manila Debate Circle
Credit: UP Manila Debate Circle


There is something different in the air about college organizations. I’m not sure what it is, but contrasted to the experience I had as a member of SSC Delta Chi, and then SSC DebSoc, being even tangentially a part of UPMDC was a lot easier. College orgs, I think, are a lot easier to be a part of, or perhaps I have simply changed.

I don’t dread going up to the confe room. I could have, but I never really did. I sometimes bemoaned my exhaustion and cried out, exams!, but in the end I knew that the moment I stepped into that room, I’ll be content. Relaxed.

But whatever.

Last Saturday was one of the most emotionally taxing days of my life. In entering SSC Delta Chi, an audition of sorts took place. There were tests for confidence, for willingness (i.e. desperation), for talent. It was public humiliation. Or rather, it pretended to be. My weird and awkward experience in high school org try-outs was nothing compared to the deliberations I and eight others went through. It took so long, though objectively it really didn’t, and it was humiliating, in a sense, because I saw every little thing I was deficient in. I was a bad adjudicator, over confident, had weird and inexplicable hang-ups, stupid on current events. But I had some value, and I did try to defend myself. Moving on–

The point is, there are a lot of things to this org that I have yet to discover. It’s full of traditions and promises, potentials and evolution. I cannot wait to be a part of it, even if only to watch in the sidelines as a non-member.

But honestly, if I don’t get in this semester, I know I’ll try again in the next.

UPDATE: I received a text earlier, and then got a letter, and then. I am now officially a full member of the UPMDC, but. :( Please see Conflicts section for more of my life. My happiness is a bit dampened.


Turn of Events

Things happened very fast. One moment I was happily doing nothing, the next I was offered a chance to become the VP for Outgoing Global Community Development Program for UP Manila’s budding new organization, AIESEC. I am so grateful to Reanne for the opportunity –she’s the president.

Lovely and explanatory things:

  • There’s a lot of jargon to AIESEC. But what is it, basically? AIESEC is an international organization which seeks to maximize humankind’s potential as leaders. Members are honed to become contributors and trendsetters in society. What sets AIESEC apart from similarly-tracked organizations is exchange, which is what my department handles.
  • The EB or Executive Board is currently composed of four people, the president and 3 VPs for 3 departments: Talent Management, OGCDP and External Relations (Marketing/Publicity). The people in our small, baby org are a lot of fun, though I don’t know all of them quite well. It’s a very OrgComm-bodied org, i.e. I am the only Bio student there, and some few non-OrgComm students exist.
  • Some Saturday ago, we had a learning session and assessment center activity, facilitated by our “mother” organization, AIESEC UPD. It was all very cool. I am only wary of the amount of work involved with this organization, and I know that I have a lot of things in my plate, but as I keep telling myself: I am built to thrive under pressure and born to oppose expectations.

Now Happening

This weekend is the much anticipated ACamp! :) It’s only going to be held somewhere here in Bocobo, so there’s not much stress involved in it, but then again, I have an exam on Saturday (Bio lab) and Monday (Bio lec, yeah!), so. It’s also Php1500, and I am not made of money.

Also now happening is the unfortunate unresponsiveness of some of my fellow OGCDP members. I am sad about it. YES SAD.

Edit: AIESEC Enderun UPM Assimilation Camp I’d post more pictures, but the ones I have on my phone aren’t exactly fit for public consumption. ;) I LOVE AIESEC is the conclusion of that weekend, and I am looking forward to the stress, work, benefits and dance parties this org will bring!

Roomed with 1 Enderun and 2 UPM girls! ACamp was so much fun. Can't wait to see everyone again. :)
Roomed with 1 Enderun and 2 UPM girls! ACamp was so much fun. Can’t wait to see everyone again. :)


I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there is nothing I hate more than going back on my commitmentsAt least, the professional kind of commitments. So what’s the conundrum?

The problem stems from three premises: first, I am a biology student, and it means that I am dependent on the whims of exam gods and tyrannic fate weavers, second, I’ve gotten myself into organizations which not only demand time on the weekdays but also on the weekends, and third, I am a minor and a daughter, both reasons for which I am under the gracious yet sometimes limiting hand of my mother.

So? Even with my trusty ColorNotes app (I recommend it!) and its attached calendar-cum-planner, I can’t reconcile and move my life around to accommodate every little event. I can’t predict my academic, debate, AIESEC and family schedule. Compromises and sacrifices have to made, and it makes me feel so bad to lose one thing for another. And yes, sometimes my priorities are quite clear and circumstances make some decisions impossible to circumnavigate, but at the end of the day it still means having to go back your word.

Exhibit A: The weekend of September 21 to 22 is highly stressful for me. Why?

  • Academic: Our exam in Chemistry 18 is scheduled on that Saturday. Solution: move that test to an earlier date. Is this possible? I’m not sure. I’ve only ever successfully had an exam moved to a few hours earlier. I’m also not certain if my reason is valid. Alternative: sacrifice the two other commitments.
  • UPMDC: LIVs, a debate tournament in UP Los Banos. This is an opportunity to train myself for NDC, a competition I hope to attend (and win somewhat). This spans both days. Solution: sacrifice all of the other three.
  • AIESEC: Global Youth Summit 2013 is on that Saturday. It spans the whole day, from 8 am to 5:30 pm. I’ve already registered for it, and the event is a team experience. The goal is to accomplish tasks together with the other members of the Executive Board. Alternative: sacrifice all of the other three.
  • Family: My grandmother’s birthday is on that weekend. My mother’s mother is in a delicate state of health; she’s 82, and just this month she found herself crashing face-first onto the floor. No one was with her in her room, and she woke up to a bruised and fragile face. The doctors have recommended us to move her room and toilet facilities downstairs for her ease and comfort, and to stop her from engaging in her religious organizations as much as she used to. She needs to rest. Further nuance: I haven’t seen her in months. When the whole accident happened, I was debating in PDO while my family went to Laguna to visit her. Solution: sacrifice all of the other three, which I should do. Family first.

In conclusion

I wouldn’t trade these sleepless nights for anything. I’m not even that angsty over our ridiculous Histo 2 exam tomorrow, which basically asks us to memorize 500 million Arabic terms. I am supposedly happy, but really sleepy and cranky because of it, though.

I need to graduate magna cum laude, with lots of good friends from different orgs and classes, with my family by my side, and with excellent standing in all of these organizations. That is all.

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