Delivering his 8-minute speech that eloquently articulated the theme "I am a leader. I can make a difference", Valdes bested 11 other finalists from the different participating schools. Asked how he felt about being the first Grand Winner, Valdes humbly says, "I feel really honored and blessed! I know everyone prepared for it and that so many people were also behind them in their efforts. I'm happy that I was able to reach out with my message and be heard."
Regina Isabelle Jaimee I. Ranada of Miriam College clinched the 1st Runner-up position while
Christian Earl G. Castañeda, representing La Salle Greenhills, earned the placed as the 2nd Runner-Up. The grand final winners were awarded a Voice of Leadership plaque and a cash prize worth P50,000 for the grand champion, P40,000 for the first runner up and P30,000 for the second runner up. Their respective schools also received the same amount in support of programs that will help propagate leadership among the faculty and staff.
The Voice of Leadership Grand Finals is the culmination of an extensive four-month long search for graduating high school students who can eloquently express the essence of leadership. Twelve finalists took the stage to deliver a speech that can best articulate "true leadership" inspired by integrity of heart and excellent skills, God-centeredness, and accountable and responsible stewardship.
Organized by Viking Cars, Incorporated (VCI), the official authorized dealer and distributor of Volvo cars in the Philippines, and Scandinavian Motors Corporation (SMC), the official importer of Volvo cars in the country, the Voice of Leadership is a corporate advocacy of Volvo Philippines launched in late November 2008. It is a public speaking competition that aims to be a channel for aspiration, recognition, inspiration, vision and action for outstanding high school student leaders. Through the Voice of Leadership, Volvo hopes to discover and hone potential youth leaders that can evoke positive change through their words and actions.
"We are confident that these new breed of brilliant young individuals will think of effective ways to instigate valuable change. Their exceptional minds shall emanate words that will move and inspire people. Words so eloquently articulated that it will innovate and instigate true leadership formation. With the values and character we shared with the participants during the two-day Leadership Camp we are confident that together with the guidance of their teachers and parents, they will grow into their leadership positions as accountable, responsible and God-centered stewards. Their thoughts, words and deeds will be a reflection of their character – the character of a true leader," said VCI president and chief executive officer Atty. Alberto B. Arcilla.
Among the finalists are Geraldine Mae P. Felicio of Assumption College, Miguel Roman M. Perez of Colegio San Agustin, Marinella Regina S. Belen of De La Salle Santiago Zobel, Maldova Mae Marcos, OB Montessori; Beatrice Sheena S. Tan, Saint Jude Catholic School; Rebecca Arianna L. Ambil, St. Paul University Quezon City; Anna Katrina B. Pizarro, St. Scholastica's College Manila; Senando Angelo R. Santiago, UP Integrated School and Joseph S. Chan, Xavier School.
Assessing the performance of the young achievers are leaders in own their right. Heading the judging committee is McCann World Group Philippines Chairman Emeritus Ms. Emily Abrera. She leads a prestigious panel that includes Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 2001 titlist Ms. Zorayda B. Andam, entrepreneur and TV personality Mr. Bam A. Aquino, Philippine Star editor-in-chief Mr. Isaac G. Belmonte, lawyer and, TV host and current chairman of the board of editors of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism Mr. David M. Celdran; and youth leader, and basketball star Mr. Alex Compton.
Hosted by Voice of Leadership Spokesperson Chris Tiu, the evening also featured stellar performances by Broadway star Lea Salonga and the Playshop Kids. Secretary Alfonso T. Yuchengo graced the event as the Guest of Honor and presented the awards to the winners.
Each of the finalists were judged according to content (35%), presentation which includes delivery, manner and body language (35%); mastery of language which includes reasonably accurate grammar, articulation and vocabulary (15%); and system or careful and methodical organization of ideas (15%). Representatives from SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co. tabulated and summarized the scores.
A Voice of Leadership Medal will be awarded to each of the 12 finalists and a cash prize of PhP10, 000.00. The amount of PhP 20, 000.00 shall also be awarded to their respective schools at this level.