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This Pinay Just Won A Major International Speaking Competition

Congratulations, Jazmin!
PHOTO: Facebook/English-Speaking Union Alumni

Jazmin Tan Jabines made the Philippines proud when she won first place at the at the English Speaking Union’s International Public Speaking Competition. Her winning speech, titled "One Hour at A Time," focused on the lives of OFWs. Jazmin is the third Filipino to win the contest, after Gian Karlo Dapul (2008) and Patricia Evangelista (2004).

Cosmopolitan Philippines spoke to her via email to find out more about her journey: 

Tell us a little bit about your background in public speaking.

Public speaking has always been an interest of mine. My main exposure to public speaking comes from debate, since I've been debating competitively since my first year of high school; I'm entering my fourth year of university this August. In my freshman year, I decided to apply for the University of the Philippines Debate Society, and was thankfully accepted. Only recently did I venture out into different forms of public speaking, so I decided to try out for the English Speaking Union’s local search for the national representative.

What made you decide to join the competition?

Actually, this is my second year of trying out for the English Speaking Union's local search. Last year, I made it to the finals of the local search, but was not selected as the national representative (last year's representative is a massively kind fellow; his name is One Diaz). I needed to grow as a speaker so I spent the past year preparing for this year's search, more enthusiastic and less anxious this time around.

I joined mainly because I believe I had what it took to share the Filipino story on a global stage—a story about immigrant families having to rebuild their lives across the oceans when someone leaves.

I knew that I had to at least make it to the finals of the International Public Speaking Competition to share the Filipino narrative inspired by a personal story, and thankfully, I did.

What was the application process like? 

The search for the Philippine representative took place last February, and it spanned two weekends. On the first weekend, almost a hundred participants delivered a prepared speech on the theme "Great Artists Have No Country" for three preliminary rounds, until the top three were selected. The top three were then supposed to prepare a speech for the theme "The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Invent It," which they would deliver next weekend in front of the English Speaking Union's board here in the Philippines, chaired by Ms. Gigi Virata. (Yes, that means we had only one week to finalize our speeches.)

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The English Speaking Union in London provides these themes, which every local chapter uses for their local search. I delivered a similar speech to what I gave in the IPSC finals last February; I mainly talked about the Filipino diaspora and how families need to reinvent their ties with their loved ones who leave. It was the speech that got me to London.

What happened next?

As soon as the euphoria wore over, serious preparations needed to be done. I had to prepare for three rounds—two prepared speeches on the themes I mentioned earlier and an impromptu speech. I had two months and a half to rewrite my speeches, so the entire month of March was dedicated to revising my speech about great artists, then followed by my preparing for the final speech the rest of the period. I was under the guidance of the esteemed Krip Yuson and Butch Dalisay who constantly gave me suggestions and tips for improvement. Several friends of mine also gave their input which was exceedingly helpful.

Of course, the process of revision wasn't as linear as it seemed. I made major revisions to my speeches only two weeks before the competition began, after I realized potential flaws in the speeches. I wrote in a mad rush until I was finally content and proud of what I had written.

Somewhere in between March and April, I received support from the British Council Philippines who helped me procure my visa for the United Kingdom. They have always been good partners with ESU Philippines, so they were more than happy to endorse me as a candidate.

According to your FB post, you spent a week with 53 other candidates. What was that experience like for you?

The cultural exchange was incredible. It's hard to believe that all of that took place within a week. Everyone became close and intimate so quickly, mainly because everyone was eager to learn from their fellow participants. For me, the main fruit of IPSC weren't  actually the rewards from the competition, but the friendships we left with; the world feels smaller now knowing that two people from vastly different parts of the globe can find points of unity in a bitterly divided world.

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What's your next goal?

After I finish my degree in Accountancy (if I'm hopefully not cut from the course), I plan to take a second degree or Masterals either here or abroad. I really want to have a technical background in writing which has always been my passion. When that's finished, I'll probably take up Law. And when that's done—well, I haven't decided yet. After all, our futures can still be written, right?

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