Monday, April 09, 2007

To speak English, maybe in London

KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson
The Philippine STAR 04/09/2007

The English Speaking Union-Philippines chapter has selected two student representatives for the ESU International Public Speaking Competition to be held in London from May 14 to 17.

Coordinated by the UP Debate Society last Saturday at UP Diliman, in conjunction with the annual Philippine Intercollegiate Debating Championship, the local contest actually produced three winners, including a high school student.

Earning the top slot was Weber Amores, 20 years old, and an Architecture student at Far Eastern University. He will be ESU-Phil's lead representative to the London competition that draws as many as 60 participants from over 35 countries.

Since an ESU member-chapter can field a maximum of two delegates, Sarah Kristine Alanzalon of Malate Catholic High School, who surprisingly placed second despite her tender age of 15, may also represent the Philippines. She actually turns 16 later this month, thus meeting the age requirement, which is from 16 to 20.

That she gained the judges' nod is certainly no fluke. Early last February, Sarah topped the Voice of the Youth impromptu speaking contest organized by Rotary Club District 3810 together with the Department of Education, with Allied Banking Corporation as sponsor.

Named as an alternate after placing third was 19-year-old UP Diliman Psychology student Samantha Ann Tirthdas.

The contestants spoke for five minutes on the theme "Dynamic World." On the judging panel were ESU-Phil chair Ambassador Cesar Bautista, our former envoy to the Court of St. James, who was instrumental in organizing the Philippines chapter; this writer who serves as ESU-Phil vice president; guest judges Prof. Zenaida Martinez of FEU and Edgardo Maranan, prizewinning poet and writer who just returned home after years of serving as information officer at the Philippine embassy in London; and our previous representatives to the ESU IPSC: Ryan Buenafe, Kevin Punzalan and Celine Guinto.

Apart from these three, four other Philippine students have competed in London since 2002 when ESU-Phil first sent a contestant, with Patricia Evangelista of UP Diliman copping the grand prize in 2004.

Pilipinas Shell traditionally supports the Philippine representation in the ESU International Public Speaking Competition. Other officers of the Philippines chapter which gained formal entry into the ESU only over a year ago are Dr. Butch Dalisay of UP as president, Dr. Marlu Vilches of Ateneo as secretary, writer-editor Erlinda Panlilio as treasurer, and Atty. Katrina Legarda as corporate secretary.

At a recent meeting attended by Her Majesty's Ambassador Peter Beckingham, various plans of action were discussed to help promote and enhance the use of English, including the possibility of organizing a video-conference debate between a Philippine university team and one from Hong Kong or Singapore.

We were also delighted to hear from the British Council representative, David Hopkinson, that it has been doing its part in disseminating English-teaching programs. Arranged for local broadcast, for instance, was the "English by Radio" program co-sponsored by BBC World Service, in partnership with Radyo ng Bayan and the DepEd.

Here we help disseminate the following information provided by Ms. Jennifer Domingo of the British Council Philippines:

"The objective of the project is to provide a practical English-language-assisted 'learning-through-listening' program that would be broadcast around the country for use by schools.

"Using the English language curriculum of the DepEd, three radio programs have been initially produced. They are: 1) ALPHABETICUS — designed for Elementary learners (ages 6-8) — a program that includes songs and simple interactive English exercises, and is transmitted over Radyo Ng Bayan at 10:45 to 11:00 a.m. every Tuesday; 2) E-CLUB — designed for early high school learners (ages 11-12) — includes conversation and comprehension exercises, carried at the same time slot every Thursday; 3) E-CLUB Storyland — designed for early high school learners (ages 11-12) — includes conversation and comprehension exercises, on broadcast every Friday."

Launched at the ambassador's residence last August, the English by Radio project features materials that are now utilized by e-PLDT Ventus for the implementation of its English Day Outreach Programs for 2007. Last month, the country's biggest radio network, the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC), began to air English by Radio through its Radyo Natin network.

Future programs will include the E-Club 2: for later high school, with conversation, stories, quizzes and comprehension; Adventures in English: short stories and comprehension exercises; Working English: for those wanting English practice for their work; and Follow Us: English conversation and repetition only — a lesson that concentrates on good pronunciation.

The BC Philippines hopes to re-launch the project in June with DepED's support, so that the program can be integrated into public elementary and secondary schools' daily English instruction.

Per Ms. Domingo: "We are also hoping to partner with other radio stations to increase our area of coverage. We are looking for volunteer radio talents, scriptwriters and creative ideas! Should you have further questions, please feel free to contact Nadine Jacinto-Alberto, consultant/director, English by Radio, third floor, Ventures I Bldg., 7849 Makati Ave. corner Gen. Luna St., Makati City, tel. nos. 899-3324." One may also log in at

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2007 IPSC and Oxford Conference Details

We've received the following details from Ms. Katie Brock in London about this year's IPSC and Oxford events, and we're glad to share the details with you:

The 2007 ESU International Public Speaking Competition
Monday 14 - Thursday 17 May 2007

“Dynamic Earth”

The preparations for the 2007 International Public Speaking Competition are well underway, and we hope that a team from your country will be able to take part. Once again we are grateful to HSBC Holdings plc for its support of the Competition. Please read the below information and feel free to pass it on to any other interested party.

General points

Entry to the Competition
There are two different forms enclosed:
• The Preliminary Entry Form is to be returned to me by Friday 23 March 2007 or earlier by the competition organiser and is to register that you plan to enter one or two students to the competition. We do not require names or full details at this stage. You should also indicate whether you think your competitor(s) will take up the offer of a homestay. This must be confirmed by the student (see below). This means that we can organise accommodation, theatre tickets etc for the correct numbers. Please also indicate whether you plan to send any accompanying adults.
• The Participant Entry Form must be completed by each participant and returned to me by Friday 13 April 2007. This form must be completed in its entirety including flight details before we will accept it. Without it the participant is not considered as registered. If a homestay has already been requested by the competition organiser this must be confirmed by the participant in this form.

The Handbook
I am pleased to enclose the 2007 International Public Speaking Competition Handbook. Each participant must see a copy of the handbook before they attend the competition so that they are aware of the rules and structure of the competition.

• Fees must be paid in advance. Please ensure you complete the payment section of the entry form.
• The programme fee for participants is £180 and covers:
The cost of 4 night’s bed and breakfast accommodation in twin rooms (Monday 14 – Friday 18 May)
travel to and from their homestay (if requested)
Teas and Coffee during the day
All visits outlined in the programme
This fee does not cover
Travel around London and from the airport
Evening meals
the costs of those accompanying the participant: the charge for this is £270 and covers bed and breakfast accommodation (in single rooms) and lunches. If you are sharing a twin room the cost is £180 per person.
• Participants and those accompanying them should bring money for their evening meals, travel costs on the underground or bus around London and any other expenses.

Please note the following points:
a. The theme is "Dynamic Earth” and speakers will be expected to address this theme (they may not, however, use it as their title)
b. Speakers must be between 16 and 20 years old on Thursday 17 May 2007 and be full-time students.
c. Competitors must be citizens of the country they are representing.
d. Each country may only enter two speakers.

Please see the handbook for details.

Please read the guidelines in the handbook; it is very important that all participants are aware of these. Homestays are from Friday 18 May – Sunday 20.

A homestay must be requested by 23 March by the competition organiser when sending in the preliminary entry form and confirmed by the participant when they send in their final entry form. If the participant decides they would rather not take up the homestay the latest date they change their mind is 13 April 2007.

Please make sure that participants do not bring too much luggage with them. They should be able to move it across London ON THEIR OWN on public transport. Additionally some homestay hosts cars cannot accommodate large amounts of luggage as well as several students!

Visas and Insurance
Please ensure that all visa requirements are organised well in advance to allow us time to prepare any relevant paperwork from this end. It is advisable to investigate visa requirements as soon as possible. All participants MUST have comprehensive travel insurance.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any further information.

The English-Speaking Union International Relations Conference
Sunday 15th – Saturday 21st July 2007
Oriel College, Oxford

he ESU International Relations Conference will deal with a variety of issues relating to both International Relations and to Britain's international role in the world today. The aim of the Conference is to give participants the opportunity to expand their knowledge of Britain and to widen their outlook on world issues. It also offers a unique opportunity to make individual contacts with people from various fields, cultures and backgrounds. In 2006 31 delegates attended the Conference and they represented a total of 25 countries. The majority of delegates were young professionals from the fields of trade and industry, law, journalism, teaching and the diplomatic service.

During the week four main topics will be covered: International Relations; Law and Government, British Institutions and International Trade and Industry. Each session will take the form of a short lecture followed by a comprehensive discussion involving all delegates. There will also be a visit to a performance of Shakespeare.

The conference is an annual event and has taken place annually for over 40 years. The venue has traditionally been one of the colleges in Oxford and in 2007, as in the last fourteen years, it will be held in Oriel.

Previous speakers have included Sir Andrew Burns KCMG, International Governor on the Board of the BBC, Lord Watson of Richmond CBE, Chairman, Burson-Marsteller Europe; Mr Edward Gould, Deputy Chairman, The English-Speaking Union; Alan Lee Williams OBE, Director, The Atlantic Council; Mr Derek Wood, QC, Mark Simmonds MP, Shadow Minister for International Development, Ralph Land CBE, Chairman of the Russo-Britain Chamber of Commerce and Martin Bell OBE, UNICEF Ambassador for Humanitarian Emergencies and Former Correspondent for the BBC

Conference fee per participant

ESU Members: £980.00
Non-Members: £1100.00

which includes lectures, accommodation, meals and excursions

Contact: Katie Brock
Head of International and Cultural Programmes
The English-Speaking Union
Dartmouth House
37 Charles Street
London W1J 5ED

Friday, November 03, 2006

The ESU-BC October Workshops

From the Ateneo's Dr. Marlu Vilches comes this recap of the ESU-British Council debate and public speaking workshops in October 2006:

Our guest workshop facilitators were James Probert (Deputy Director of
Education and Head of the Centre for Speech and Debate of the English
Speaking Union) and his student James Dray. Their visit had been
arranged by Gill Westaway, former British Council Director, before she
left for her new post in Sri Lanka in August. Thank you, Gill!

Both half-day workshops took place in the Far Eastern University
Conference Center. The debate workshop (12th October) and the public
speaking workshop (13th October) had 53 and 101 participants,
respectively, from Metro Manila schools. The two Jameses--as I realized
they had been fondly called!--were reported to have been truly
impressive in handling the workshops despite technical difficulties. They
only had a whiteboard and pens (no computer!) but they got the
participants' full attention through their use of various games. They
also skillfully introduced the procedures of the British Parliamentary
Debate and staged a simulation activity (on the subject: "private
vehicles should be banned") which was participated in by debaters from
FEU ORADEC, as well as students from Holy Spirit High School and EAC
Manila. Drawing from their vast and varied experience in public
speaking, James Probert and James Dray also devised exciting games and
challenging exercises to show proper techniques of oral presentation
before a crowd and gave practical tips on how one could improve speaking
skills through daily practice.

Both workshops were graced with the presence of Andrew Picken, OBE, the
new British Council Director, and the FEU co-hosts: Dr. Lourdes
Montinola, Chair, FEU Board of Trustees; Dr Lydia Echauz, FEU President;
Dr Jaime An Lim, Dean, FEU Institute of Arts and Sciences; Dr Isagani
Cruz, Director, FEU Teachers Academy; Prof May C. Garin, Chair,
Communication Department. The FEU Chorale sang the Philippine National
Anthem at the open ceremonies for each of the workshops.

Now, a word of thanksgiving ...

ESU Philippines is grateful to Dr. Montinola and the FEU team for their
great support for the event--especially for making the FEU conference
center available on short notice and for making the guests feel warmly
welcomed (beginning with lunch on day 1).

ESU Philippines is also grateful to the British Council for giving ESU
this rare opportunity to co-sponsor an event that is close to its heart.
Special thanks go to Andrew Picken for hosting lunch (see attached photos)
on 11th October in honor of our special guests, members of ESU Philippines
(Krip Yuson, Kat Legarda, Jimmy Abad, Linda Panlilio, Marlu Vilches), and
representatives of local university debate teams (Patricia Evangelista,
Glenn Tuazon, Ryan Buenafe). Spanish cuisine at Casa Armas wouldn't be
complete without its paella and lengua which most if not all had an
appetite for! Thanks to Nannette Mercado and Alec Ladanga for a good
restaurant choice!

Many thanks, also, to Linda Panlilio who escorted our guests to the Ayala
Museum after lunch. They both appreciated the kind gesture as well as
the book on the Dioramas of Philippine History.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Chairman's Report

(This report on ESU Philippines was presented by ESUPhil Chairman Amb. Cesar Bautista at the ESU International Council Meeting in Marlborough House, London, 13-15 September 2006.)

The most interesting part of the meeting was the country report presentation where experiences were shared and insights on the way forward for each chapter were commented on. There were 43 participants representing some 30 countries in the meeting. The depth and variety of the activities/projects were quite impressive.

I reported on the busy 2005 for our organization which culminated in the formal presentation of the ESU charter from Lord Watson, the ESU chairman, in November. Our membership of 30 consists of representatives from the academe, business and the young professionals, all committed to improving international understanding and opportunities through the proper use of English. The challenge is for ESU Philippines to make a difference in this field. In addition to the doables that we are already into, eg selection of the national candidate for the International Public Speaking Contest, the support for improved debate and public speaking skills via our network of student clubs, and our “advocacy” for the improvement of English in schools, we are considering options where we can play a meaningful role in improving English proficiency especially in relation to making it the “language of opportunity” in today’s world.

A number of proposals have been brought forward by our members include the organizing of a English Public Speaking Contest amongst some elementary schools initially in the Metro Manila area to develop confidence at an earlier age, and the support of a research study on how to improve teaching proficiency, sponsoring British young volunteers to encourage their Filipino counterparts on the use of the language, etc. We can handle only one project initially but with the help of our university students network and business affiliates together with support of media, these initiatives may cover the wider countryside region with time

The suggestion regarding young British volunteers training our students on being comfortable with the use of English has drawn favorable responses from the Filipino professionals in the UK and the British Friends of the Philippines. A similar approach is already in place in Japan, called JET (Japan English Teaching), which is a bilateral project between the two governments. ESU Japan is familiar with the project but is not involved in it. It is a big undertaking and the challenge is whether we can come out with a similar but smaller project. Please refer to their website Former Ambassador Paul Dimond who heads the Friends of the Philippines has been very helpful in explaining this possibility to us.

Another version of this scheme is that the British volunteers shall be on their gap year, to train Filipino student school levels. Filipino professional in the UK together with the British Friends of the Philippines can be tapped to sponsor the plane trips of the volunteer and the business firms to support their local costs.

I made it clear that the above proposals are very much at the conceptual stage and we still have to flesh it out. However, these appear to be in the range of possibilities that ESU Philippines can handle within its resources and expertise.

While each country has its own challenges and peculiarities, the best project will be those where the cooperation and synergy between strengths of ESU chapters can be utilized to achieve a greater impact internationally.

Comments from Other Chapters:

The Chairman of ESU Scotland, Jonathan Dye, found our initiatives of interest to their chapter and would like to be kept informed because they may be able to offer assistance. They presently conduct a “Creatures Writing Competition” which has been a terrific success. They will send us details about this contest for our consideration as an alternative project in the future. I shall send a copy of their project to the ESU Philippines members as soon as available.

The American chapter was also keen to be in partnership with our group. They have outreach programmes that may complement our projects. They would also like to develop a twinning arrangement which could include the contribution of “books-across-the-sea" especially from their West Coast cities. I promised to get back to them as soon as I had the opportunity to discuss it with our members.

The Richmond Branch of ESU USA will host the annual conference of ESU in cooperation with Jamestown’s 400th anniversary on October 31-November 4, 2007. It will be held in Richmond and will have distinguished programs such as a Shakespeare Festival, Churchill Symposium and a panel discussion on ”ESU and the English Language.” They would very much like to have a panelist from us during that occasion. Kindly raise your hand if you will find yourself in Virginia during that week next year. It will be both a national and international event and will involve not just ESU but a wider range of experts.

The next ESU International Council Meeting will be nearer to home—in Tokyo—on October 8-10, 2007. I hope that our chapter will be represented in that meeting. Mr. Masahito Agata, auditor of ESU Japan, was particularly eager to show their projects to our participants during that occasion.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Public Speaking and Debate Workshops

The British Council Philippines and the English Speaking Union-Philippines are jointly inviting Filipino teachers and students to half-day seminar-workshops to be conducted by two UK experts on debate and public speaking: James Probert, Deputy Director of Education and Head of the Centre for Speech and Debate of the English Speaking Union and his student James Dray.

The workshops are aimed at students who are going to participate in debates or debating competitions, of any age from both high school and university, and for teachers who are involved in running debates or coaching debate teams. The public speaking workshop for adults will deal with speech-making and public speaking in general (e.g. oral presentations). Following are the details:

Date: Thursday, 12 October 2006
Time: 1:00-5:00 PM
Venue: University Conference Center, Far Eastern University
Registration Fee: P50.00 to cover snacks

Date: Friday, 13 October 2006
Time: 1:00-5:00 PM
Venue: University Conference Center, Far Eastern University
Registration Fee: P50.00 to cover snacks

For any inquiries about the event, please e-mail Dr. Marlu Vilches at

ESU Philippines also wishes to greet and to thank the new director of the British Council in the Philippinees, Mr. Andrew Picken, OBE, for his support. Many thanks as well to Far Eastern University for hosting the event.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bon Voyage, Gill!

A group of ESU Philippines officers and members got together on Wednesday, August 2, for a dinner in honor of outgoing British Council (Philippines) Director and Esuphil member Gill Westaway, who will be leaving end-August for her new assignment in Sri Lanka.

Aside from Gill, ESU’s special guests for that evening were British Ambassador Peter Beckingham and his wife Jill, who braved the horrendous traffic to join a merry table that included Esuphil chairman Amb. Cesar Bautista, board members Butch Dalisay, Krip Yuson, Kat Legarda, and Marlu Vilches, and charter members Lourds Montinola, Gani Cruz, and Luigi Bernas.

Gill—at one time a teacher of English, and always an exponent of it—will long be remembered in the Philippines as one of the most dynamic, passionate, and committed BC directors we have ever had. Unknown to many (and revealed to us by Gill only at that dinner), her marching orders when she first arrived more than five years ago had been to revitalize the British Council in the Philippines—or face the prospect of a shutdown.

Over those five years, she was able to turn the British Council into an important, helpful, and friendly presence on the Philippine cultural and educational scene. Gill herself became a dear friend to many Filipino writers, artists, and educators, as she plunged into diverse activities to project Britain’s role in this part of the world and the utility and beauty of the English language (while learning and using a good deal of Filipino herself, a most impressive trait).

We will miss Gill Westaway, but we know she’ll be back, and Sri Lanka can only be fortunate to have her. ESU Philippines wishes one of its staunchest members (she was invaluable in organizing last year’s successful launch) all the best, as much as we thank Ambassador and Mrs. Beckingham for sharing with us their time, their insights, and their good humor. Many thanks as well to all who came to our despedida. Mabuhay kayo!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Celeni Did Her Best

From London, our member Ed Maranan reports that "Celeni competed in the preliminaries this morning. She was in heat 1 which included speakers from the main English-speaking countries. She did very well, we thought. Ambassador and Mrs. Espiritu, Loline and I were present for the moral (or morale) support. The two speakers chosen from this heat were the New Zealander and the Australian. The first was a surprise winner, and we thought that Celeni did even better than him. In fact there were some observers--not from the Filipino group--who expressed their misgivings in public. Loline can tell you more about this. As they say in basketball, those are the breaks of the game. Celeni's was a tough heat, but she was very much up to it."

The eventual winner was Konstantin Lazutin of Russia, followed by Arty Papageorgiou of New Zealand. This year’s finalists came from Argentina, Australia, Chile, India, and Malaysia.

Thanks for giving it your best shot, Celeni--mabuhay ka! We'd also like to express our deepest thanks to our London "den mother," Loline Reed, who took good care of Celeni during her stay there, and, of course, to Shell's country chairman and ESU board member Ed Chua, who sponsored Celeni's ticket. The photo shows Celeni between Amb. Bautista and Ed Chua when she received her ticket to London. A million thanks to you all for another valiant effort.