What we can learn from Raul Contreras’ viral video, for modern day debates
It’s not always that we see young folks engage in a healthy debate, discussing topics that many of us may find difficult to explain. We are talking about the video featuring a 1956 debate that has recently resurfaced and gone viral, where four young participants shared their views and expressed their opinions about many of society’s pressing issues.
We’re now able to watch that time when Raul Contreras from the Philippines, Yoriko Konishi from Japan, Iskandar de Nata from Indonesia, and Judith Reader of UK engaged in an interesting debate, thanks to the unearthed black and white video courtesy of ArchaicMC.
When asked by the facilitator to explain prejudice, Contreras said “when a person loses track of the dignity of the human soul and begins to judge others not on the basis of their being persons but on the basis of race, creed, economic status, that is prejudice.” While Yoriko Konishi from Japan and Iskandar de Nata of Indonesia both shared good answers that were quite on point, Contreras seemed to display the most eloquence in answering the question.
When the then-kids were also asked to explain their viewpoints about liberty and justice, the young Filipino said, “in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, it mentions something about ‘I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible under God, with liberty and justice for all.’ Well, the last phrase just doesn’t solve everything. I mean, with this segregation problem here and the discrimination against colored people, how in the world could you have liberty and justice for all?”
Many were astounded and surprised to see a young Filipino deliver such strong, factually-based views on adult issues, that it was a matter of time before the video went viral. Soon enough, the video caught the attention of Kate Contreras, who explained, through the comment section, that the young man in the video was her father. “Hi the Filipino guy was my father. Was so touched by all the comments and praises. And yes, he was extremely brilliant. Was shocked this video even existed, “ she said. “Dad joined the big advertising firms and eventually set up his own. In his latter years, he was handling crisis PR. He also handled the campaign of Former President Cory Aquino. “
Sadly, Raul Contreras passed away due to kidney failure.
“Your father just became one of the reasons why I’m proud to be a Filipino,” one comment said. While it is refreshing to see how a young Filipino in 1956 spoke with such brilliance and eloquence, some pointed out that this is what’s missing in today’s Filipino youth.
In one Twitter conversation, however, many disagreed and defended the new generation, saying young people today are eloquent and very aware of political and social issues, and that it’s time older people stopped looking down on the younger generation and thinking they’re lazy and unintelligent.
I’d beg to differ. I’ve seen children his age participate in Debate Societies in the Philippines and speak as eloquently or more! The way this young man was an exceptional speaker, so are many in this generation.
— eroom (@immoore_) April 6, 2021
Obviously, you haven’t spent any time with the youth of today. My students are as eloquent and informed, if not more, as this gentleman. Don’t degrade the present generation. Appreciate the past, stuggle in the present and hope for the future.
— SerYo (@SerYohsoSayo) April 7, 2021
One user was quick to point out that smart- shaming, a highly toxic facet of Pinoy culture, is one to blame.
“We can barely hear Filipino teens today expressing their thoughts and opinions with confidence.. that smart shaming could be blame[d].. they think if you’re smart vocally. they tagged you as weirdo or “pabida”. so smarts tend to hide their intelligence instead. “
Another user shared, “As a Student Teacher back in 2018 I saw a pattern with kids in which the moment a student speaks in English, they’d be socially pushed down to the ground with the weight of other people’s glares and stares and subtle discrimination, which I see happen almost every time. It’s a very sad sight to see.”
For some reason, many of us may feel that in the society we live in, to be smart and outspoken is an embarrassing thing. And the sad truth is, all of us have done it at some point.
But it is not that we don’t value intelligence or education, Doc E theory says that it may also be tied up with pakikisama and the culture brought to us by the Spaniards and Americans.
The point is that all of us can do something to stop this toxic culture. Being smart is not something to be ashamed so do not shame anyone for their intelligence.
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