The youth’s voice
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - January 17, 2019 - 12:00am

It was a wonderful experience listening to young and idealistic college students as they competed in the 12th Vicente Gullas Intercollegiate Oratorical Contest last January 14 at the University of the Visayas Main Campus. I chaired the board of judges, which also had Philippine Information Agency’s Rachelle Nessia and Cebu media personality Rosemarie Borromeo.


Eight college students representing tertiary higher education institutions in Cebu expressed their thoughts on this year’s theme: “To conquer one’s own weakness and bestial instinct is the greatest victory of life.”  This theme has provided a wide array of insightful ideas of our young people, expressing their unique experiences, aspirations, hopes and dreams for themselves and for others.

Some pragmatic yet striking thoughts from them include the need for reason and compassion. As we are all animals, however, there are things that separate us from the common creatures—reason and compassion. Reason should hold us back from liking, commenting posts on Facebook on issues about which we have so little information, if not, none by any means. It lets us know not to trust all that is said via social media. It drives us to consider for some time whether certain statements ascribed to specific politicians or personalities are really expressed by said people.

Having a mind and a heart for progress, we can’t remain stuck in our fears, shortcomings and discomforts, in case we spell stagnation, helplessness, and rot. To have a psyche for advancement is to have the outlook for growth.

The contestants were optimistic in conquering one’s own weaknesses and bestial instinct. We must conquer the impulsiveness by thinking before doing something, by being compassionate, because our words are like fallen words, once they have been uttered, we can never have them back. We must overcome our doubts that make us weak, and cast away our wicked ways. We must guard our hearts to dispel our bestial instincts. We are made to win them. We triumph against our weaknesses, we conquer our bestial instincts.

The activity has also served an avenue for the contestants to relive the life of UV founder Don Vicente Gullas. Inspired by his philosophy, the university has endeavored, and rightly so, to identify itself as “the university with a heart.” Love and service to the humanity is its mark yet to be matched by any similar institutions in recent memory. This is not a mere claim, but a reality that has withstood the test of time.

Don Vicente, a visionary, prepared all who minded to listen not to be influenced by the inebriating impact of quest for knowledge by enabling the hardening power of compassion to seep in. He taught that worldly affirmation isn’t vital as we touch lives every day. This is exemplified in the idea that even without the crown, we can at present be kings and rulers nevertheless. This is an idea which finds bolster in the Bible, which urges us not to let the left hand know what the correct hand is doing.

The youth have spoken of conquering their own weaknesses and bestial instinct as they thread the path toward a victorious life. They have spoken not only to their fellow young people but for all of us who want to have a purpose-driven life.

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