Today is the day I can say debate taught me more than what 'Matter, Manner, and Method' could.
When I was a high school debater debating for Ateneo, I knew damn well that I was not the best. I was your average Ateneo debater (Ateneo debaters were supposedly some of the best in the country, but I would not count myself in.), and while there were notable moments (like a very memorable competition in Los Banos) of debate glory towards the end of my adolescent debating career, I was not completely sure if it was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my schooling. Early in my debating life, I resented reading up on world political and economic views, news, and anything else debaters would call 'Matter,' since I thought that the best way to enjoy teenage life was to stay away from grown-up stuff as much as possible.
When I would have a bad debating day, I would blame it on British Parliamentary Debating in the Philippines being in English, and not Filipino, my primary speaking language. I thought that given the chance to have Filipino debates, more Filipinos would be able express the important thoughts easily. Language would not be a barrier for good thoughts.
Earlier today, I was able to see my dream of experiencing Filipino debates, on a national scale. Two credible schools, not necessarily for teaching English, were competing in a debate broadcast on the radio, with Filipino as the primary language. They were arguing about the policies behind Ces Drilon's release, if I heard them right. However, my happiness for the Filipino debates was short-lived since listening to these debaters was a struggle, since they themselves struggled in finding the right Filipino words to support their points, switching to English more frequently than than the conyos a good number of 'real' Filipinos hate.
I ended up rethinking my previous thoughts (which have been lingering in my head for years) concerning debate. What if I was given the chance to debate formally in Filipino? Would I be able to deliver my points better than before, or would I stutter just like the students I listened to earlier? Was I even good enough a debater, to even demand a Language shift early in my career, or to even want to skip researching and rely on my own intelligence in debates?
In any field, I think that we have to master the basics first, before we can move on to the more challenging, and more glorifying things. In sports, basketball players cannot let go of basic dribbling, passing, or the like, if they want to achieve greater things in their career. For God's sake they'd injure themselves if they tried to dunk without the basics. The same goes for debate, and any other kind of thing that needs practice, determination, concentration, and most of all, commitment. I do not think that without reading about what's happening around us, I can give good views in a debate or even in a blog. I do not think that I will have the guts to talk about mentally intimidating things without mastering the medium, or language, that my audience can find useful.
I am sure that even you have got your own activites that need a little refresher. Let us all strengthen the foundations of our work, so we can reach farther things. Who was that scientist who commented that he would not have seen very far without standing on the shoulders of giants?
I need a refresher myself.