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Cultural Potpourri | Joji Ilagan-Bian, the Australian Alumni Excellence Awardee 2019

This story appears on Page 1 of the June 30, 2019, issue of Mindanao Times. To download a copy, visit www.bit.ly/MindanaoTimes

“It all comes down to passion and determination to make a social impact,” so said H.E. Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson in describing Davaoena educator and business entrepreneur Joji Ilagan-Bian’s hard work and total commitment towards advancing Technical Vocational Education in Mindanao.  The Australian Embassy recently celebrated the exceptional achievements of Australian-educated Filipinos at the 2019 Australian Alumni Excellence Awards.  The annual awards night was held last June 24, 2019, at the historic The Manila Hotel, the site of the first Australian Consulate-General in the Philippines.

Davaoena Purita Arsenia “Joji” Ilagan-Bian was proclaimed the 2019 Alumni of the Year awardee for her “significant contribution to the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) sector in Mindanao.”  Joji Ilagan-Bian established foundations and schools in Davao City, including the first international school in Mindanao that allows students to earn globally recognised certifications.  Her initiatives helped create a favourable business and investment climate in Davao City.  Joji Ilagan-Bian pursues strong collaboration between the TVET sectors of Australia and Mindanao, which includes sending Mindanao-based TVET leaders to Australia for enterprise-based training and benchmarking.  Joji completed a short course on Entreprise-based management and Tech-Voc Education Business Planning at the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) New South Wales.

Hon. Consul of Bangladesh Joji Ilagan-Bian

Joji Ilagan-Bian confidently founded the Mindanao TVET Association with her strong belief in the integrity of the blue collar occupation; and to provide men and women with valuable skills and attitudes for local and global employment.  The hardworking and forward thinking educator, business entrepreneur and philantrophist owns and operates the only school in Mindanao offering an Australian certificate program in Hospitality, Culinary Arts, and Tourism.

Indeed, Davao’s admirable education icon has taken on the “double burden” of caring for her family and home; plus taking the  extra challenge to inspire other people, especially the youth of Mindanao, to maximize their potential to improve their lives and those of their family.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be receiving this prestigious award.

Prof. Abelardo Apollo David, Jr. Special Citation recipient; Consul Joji Ilagan-Bian 2019 Alumnus of the Year; Dr Rene Abesamis, Excellence in Innovation Award; and Dr Jason Alacapa, Young Achievers Award with Ambassador Steven Robinson

I always believe that nothing happens by accident. You are exactly where you are meant to be,” professed Joji Ilgan-Bian as she continued,”My love story with Australia started with an accidental meeting with Ms. Milalin Sarenas of the Philippines-Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility (PAHRODF); and the rest, as they say, is history.  The PAHRODF is the flagship program for supporting human resource management, organisational development and institutional change in the Philippines.

Let me share with you my story. I am the founding Chair of the biggest association of Technical Vocational schools in Mindanao. Back then I realized that so much was expected from us by our students and the industry. Almost 90% of the schools were mom and pop schools run by families who did not have any management acumen.

We gave a proposal to PAHRODF for an enterprise based management and benchmarking to Australia. We all went and studied in Australia and then came back home. There were challenges and problems in reorganizing and implementing institutional changes we faced.”

Consul Joji and Nicole Bian with Ambassador and madam Steven Robinson

“My Australian experience made me appreciate the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) which is highly recognized worldwide due to its strong
focus on industry demands and skills application. The Australian VET enables students to gain qualification for all types of employment and specific skills to help them in the workplace.”

“My schools today have forged academic linkages with the Technical & Further Education (TAFE) institution and now with a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) to offer Diploma and Certificate program jointly with them.
This partnership has been going on for the last 9 years,” informed Joji Ilagan-Bian.

”We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary on 2020. 80% of our students go to Australia for their advance diplomas.

Consul Joji Ilagan-Bian and Ms. Milalin Javellana Director of Australian Awards

For those who have taken this journey with me, I would like to thank all of you — the Mindanao Technical Vocational Schools Association which values my advices as their founding chair; the JIB International Schools Management team; our Director of Studies in Australia, Ms. Christine Williamson, and Ms. Milalin Javellana, and the Australian Awards.  All of you contributed in realizing our collective visions. The MinTVET is now the strongest voice and the largest organisation of technical vocational schools in Mindanao and the Philippines. The JIB International School is the only TVET School in the Mindanao.and Visayas regions that offers joint certification with an Australian RTO,” Joji Ilagan-Bian stated with pride.

Congratulations, palangga.  I am truly proud of you and your accomplishments in bettering other people’s lives especially those of our youth.  May the force be always with you, now and forever.



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