Young Zamboangueña ArizzaNocum off to international speaking contest PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00

(Here’s an update about young ZamboangueñaArizzaNocum who will be competing in London, UK, in an International Public Speaking Competition this week as one of the 3 Philippine’s representatives.  A scholar at UP Diliman, Arizza is the 19-year-old daughter of Armand and Ann Sahi-Nocum. The Nocum Family is now based in Manila where Armand runs the only legal PR firm in our country.
Sharing today in Pep Talk, A Story To Tell, her story she wrote in her blog.)

When I registered to compete in the Search for the Philippine Representative to the International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) this year, I told myself not to expect anything.

Why should I expect? Two years before, I also competed. I ended up in second place and lost to Bryan, a brilliant debater from De La Salle University who wove a vivid story about Chinese Filipinos.  Why expect? I had a whirlwind in my head concocted by engineering formulas and statistics projects. A five-minute speech that had absolutely nothing to do with my course would be a big change.

Without any expectations, I attended the competition organized by the UP Debate Society in February. The theme chosen was "to be human is to discuss". I was more prepared to listen than to speak. I told myself that, whatever happened, I would force myself to examine the speeches of the competitors, identify good elements that I can emulate and listen to the stories they have to tell. This way, win or lose, I would have something to take home.

Honestly? I was blown away.

One contestant spoke about the experience of her father in prison. One contestant spoke about the oppression experienced by homosexuals. Several spoke about the time they had spent volunteering in community development. One girl talked about hijabis- veil-wearing Muslim women - and the perceptions that accompany them. One brave young woman shared her story as a single mother.

It was then that I realized that it was not just a speech competition I was attending; it was an opportunity to witness the human narrative in so many different colors. Every five-minute speech throttled me, inspired me, made me ask questions.

As for my own speech, I talked about something that was close to my heart. To build up on the theme, I talked about how discussion was essential to making the Bangsamoro agreement effective and sustainable. Only when we consider the past, the circumstances and the aspirations of every stakeholder can we build this framework for peace.

That one day magnified for me what "to be human is to discuss" truly meant. Each one of us had a story to tell and each story was meritorious in its own way. However, since it was a competition, the judges had the difficult responsibility of naming three finalists who would compete to become the Phil. representative to the IPSC.

I was truly honored that one of those three finalists was me.

During the final round held at the Ateneo, I carried out the same mantra: no expectations. This time, the theme was "Imagination is more important than knowledge". It would just be the three finalists, the judges and the electric power of communication in one room.

The two young women who I competed with were brilliant in their own ways. Lara delivered a heartwarming speech about her father while Mikaela shared an experience from her childhood that resonated with her in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. I wrote a speech about technology and how it could be imagined into ways that, like Mika touched on, would help us cope in the event of disaster.

After we shared our speeches, the judges deliberated and then invited us back into the venue. When they had announced that I was selected as the representative, I just felt lucky. After all, we each had our own stories to tell. It was only a matter of styling the words and the delivery to appeal enough to each judge's preference at that specific moment for that specific theme. 

Without any expectations, I gained something that was far more important than winning: a sense of wonder. The stories that have been told showed people who did not cow under the weight of hardship. The stories that have been told restored my faith in the underlying goodness of people. Humanity embodies imperfection, weakness and diversity, but take it all in and you will stand in awe.

This is the attitude I bring with me to the competition in London next week. Just a few hours from now, I will be leaving for the UK. I'm bringing my courage, my identity, my message and the story I know I must tell. I will leave all expectations behind.

(Arizza Nocum is a student, leader, and advocate. Much of her life's work is a product of her being a "hybrid"; her mother is a Muslim while her father is a Roman Catholic. ArizzaNocum is the Overall Head of KRIS Library, an NGO aiming to make education more accessible to children in poor and conflicted areas in the Philippines.
Arizza is known for her leadership of education and peace organization, Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library or KRIS Library. She was recently awarded the 2013 Cobra Energy Drink Pinoy Hero Awards for the youth category and is one of the youngest nominees to the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World by the Filipina Women’s Network. She was also recognized as one of the five global recipients of the 2011 Zonta International Young Women for Public Affairs Award.  She is an Industrial Engineering student in the University of the Philippines – Diliman (UP). She is also the founder of Good Karma Shirts, a fund-pooling initiative for social responsibility projects.In her free time, Arizza aspires to be a connoisseur of films.)

For Arizza. "Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.” Joshua 10:8 (NLT)