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RAISE THE VOICE FOR THESE...
Mighty-talkin' champions

THEY came up to the quiet stage. They had a big thing to say and they had to have a big voice for it. They also had to keep the audience from falling asleep.

At the grand finals of the 5th Voice of Our Youth National Impromptu Speaking Competition, nine finalists from high schools around the country showed why they deserved to be mighty-talkin' teenage champions.

Each finalist had to go up on stage and make a speech on why folks should bother to go to college when drop-outs like Microsoft's big boss, Bill Gates (now the richest man in the world) and even our own Prez Estrada seem to be doing better than everyone else. They had less than an hour to prepare and memorize their speeches then it was a slow countdown to possible verbal victory.

The finalists had their own styles. Some just went up to the mike while others took the mike and walked around the stage. Paraluman C. Cruz, 16, of St. Scholastica's College, Manila, didn't even use the mike. Later, she would be declared National Champion.

First off, Luna got the audience's attention by asking them to raise their hand if they wanted to go to college. Of course, everybody did. Then she explained why they should, making the audience laugh a couple of times along the way.

"It's not just fun," Luna, a member of the St. Scolastica debate varsity, later said to us after the awards were given. "Speech-making is cool because you really get to learn about issues. It definitely helps your self-confidence and it organizes your thoughts," she added.

The other finalists are runner-up, Elgen John T. Ignacio (Mindanao State University, Iligan City), Ruthie E. Del Castillo (St. Joseph Academy, Mandaue City), Iris Camille C. De Castro (Canossa Academy, Lipa City), Ester Claire Socorro S. Don (St. Scholastica Academy, Bacolod City), Ana Christi A. Grageda (Chevalier School, Angeles City), Florence Marie R. Hassig (Sumulong Memorial High Schoo, Antipolo City), Shirley Ann C. Perez (St. Paul School of San Rafael, Bulacan), and Mary Martha O. Reyes (School of Saint Anthony, Lagro, Quezon City). Christine C. Rivero

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