PSHS-MC hosts its first Model United Nations

By Eryn Kiunisala and Danielle Malantic

Through a unique perspective, the youth can see what others may not.

This is how Sir Joshua Tarcelo of the Social Science Unit describes what makes the Model United Nations (MUN) special.

MUN is a simulation of UN procedures held by students across the globe, usually from the high school or university levels.

In the Philippines, all of the MUNs held cater to delegates from the university level, such as the University of the Philippines MUN or the University of Santo Tomas MUN.

Held last January 13–14, 2018, the Pisay MUN has changed that.

Christine Okubo, founder and secretary-general of Pisay MUN, initiated it to promote intellectual activism among high school students, while incorporating the importance of scientific diplomacy into MUNs.

Christine referred to it as an educational simulation of UN committees wherein delegates represent countries assigned to them. “The delegate’s goal is to establish his/her country’s stand in an issue and contribute to a resolution or policy. [This] trains the youth in diplomacy and international relations.”

But what makes it special?

According to Sir Tarcelo, MUN serves as an opportunity for the younger generation to embody the principles of the UN by role-playing as a delegate for their assigned country.

“[They] see the world how it is, but [they] create solutions based on their unique perspective that they may see which others may not,” he added.

Cailyn Ong, Student Council (SC) representative for the event, said that the event gives the participant a different perspective.

“If you attend the event kasi, it gives you, like, more of a global perspective. Coming out of the event, you get a different perspective and a different approach, because you hear from different people.”

Caucus of Delegates

Over two days, delegates listened to talks from distinguished speakers Francisco Dy, Chief of Staff and undersecretary of the Office of the Vice President, Clarita Carlos, a politcal science professor at the University of the Philippines, and Tony La Vina, lawyer and former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, talking about topics such as the value of unity, the importance of science in diplomacy, and their experiences in their respective fields.

Delegates also participated in committee sessions, where they got to practice diplomacy and public speaking, training them in the workings and the structure of the United Nations.

The delegates were divided into the four committees of the United Nations: the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the United Nations and Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Through these activities, they were able to prepare for the plenary session, a simulation of the United Nations general assembly, where they presented their committee’s resolutions, tackling issues that member nations face today.

An awards ceremony and a socials night was also held at the end of the weekend.

Issues and Improvements

To be able to execute the event, the organizers worked for months to plan all of the details they needed to make the event work. Despite their best efforts, however, a few problems still arose prior to and on the day of the event.

“We had to create and procure everything from scratch. The event primer and other official documents required weeks of research as we had nothing to base it from,” Christine noted.

“The logistics involved countless purchase requests and phone calls. The [Division of Student Affairs] Office and Procurement Unit shared these difficulties with us so it became manageable.”

Ralph Flores, the Internal Relations head of Pisay MUN, as well as the moderator of the UNESCO committee, cited inexperience as another challenge.

“Some of the chairs weren’t really familiar with parliamentary procedures, standards used around the MUN. So it was a struggle having to orient ourselves with the parliamentary procedure, because all of us were MUN first-timers […], none of us were ever delegates before the actual MUN, except for one or two chairs.”

As for the next Pisay MUN, Ralph hopes for more time to prepare for the event.

“More preparation, because that’s one of the most important parts of the event; making sure that the simulation is as accurate as possible for the delegates so that they won’t be shocked when they go to other MUNs and find out [that] it’s way different from what they were exposed to in Pisay MUN.”

Sir Tarcelo also expressed the possibility of making it a campus-wide event to introduce more students to the MUN.

“I suggested that maybe we could make this a campus-wide event in order for the students to experience this rich event that [not only] gets to exercise their learnings in their STEM subjects, [but] at the same time apply their Humanities subjects in expressing their learnings.”

A Diplomatic Resolution

Overall, the event was enjoyable for those involved.

When asked if he enjoyed the first Pisay MUN, Sir Tarcelo expressed his enjoyment moderating the event.

“I certainly did, working with the organizers and watching them execute their plan, resolve unexpected issues, and at the same time enjoy every moment, made me feel confident that they have certainly grown in character by this event.”

As for the participants, Christine observed that the participants had a lot of fun, especially in comparison to college-level MUNs.

“College level MUNs are nerve-wracking. However, during committee sessions and breaks in Pisay MUN, I was actually surprised to feel no tension amongst delegates. The formality was kept but no one attacked one another.”

Overall, the organizers say that their goals for the first ever Pisay MUN went beyond their expectations.

“I had the chance to socialize with some first-time delegates and they told me that they realized they liked MUNs because of Pisay MUN. They looked forward to joining more MUNs and other similar activities. Veteran MUN-ers also enjoyed the event. These were absolutely rewarding and I could say that out hard work has paid off,” said Christine.

“I think we exceeded [our goals], [because] delegates came from all over Metro Manila. We thought it would be a small event, and it exceeded our expectations,” said Ralph.

At the closing ceremony, Christine reminded delegates of their responsibility to society, encouraging them to engage in opportunities to help them grow and amplify their voice.

So the MUN carries on, to introduce the thinkers of tomorrow to the problems of today.

Photos from Cai Ibarra and Ardy Tagle.

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The Science Scholar

The Science Scholar

The official English publication of the Philippine Science High School–Main Campus. Views are representative of the entire paper.