Disaster Management

From ‘Roo to Pro

By Mercelita Jandayan-Labial

Hilarious and superstitious  as it may sound but once in my youthful years, I wished to see a sigbin, a mythical creature in the Philippines, which my grandmother described as one that looked like kangaroo. I then believed that if I saw a sigbin, it would bring good luck to me. Apparently, I needed all the luck to quench my thirst for something greater, for something more beyond the horizon, for becoming the best that I can be, being born into poverty. Studying at QUT in Australia, that was my “seeing a sigbin (kangarooo)” moment– it has positively impacted my personal and professional life.

My commitment to do the best I can and  to be the best that  I can be came when I was  selected to participate in SLATES 2012. My visit to Australia ushered in unrivaled opportunities that made me the person that I am now- a better leader, an anchored budding entrepreneur, a teacher trainer, and international speaker and trainer. The friendship and the network I have forged  with the nine other SLATES participants, with the people from QUT and with  the folks in Australia that I have met during my stint  helped me see myself better in a more proactive perspective and build a stronger belief in myself to do greater things, to network, to learn from each other, and to care for one another.

The training and exposure given by QELI on leadership served as my anchor in the leadership roles I assume at present. The knowledge of the educational systems and how schools are run in Australia put me in a vantage point to see how our school system in the Philippines is and how we can improve it. The exposures to different educational systems in Australia and the interaction with educators in different schools we visited gave me a reflective stance and a more informed perspective of the  K-12 Curriculum  and other international curricula. This helped me in my work as a national and an international trainer and speaker.

The international conference on  Shaping Teaching and Learning: The Assessment Factor held on 26 – 27 April 2012 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre paved the way for me to connect to Dr. Yong Zhao who I then met in Ohio after my trip to Australia. My field of work and research is on educational technology and Dr. Yong Zhao was just the right person I needed to meet.

The site visits in Victoria, a state that was badly hit by the wild fires in 2009, and the interactions I had with the school personnel and the agencies involved in disaster management helped a lot  in keeping a project off the ground when I returned to the Philippines. Through the knowledge and insightful inputs of the authorities in Victoria, I was able to see the direction of the project I wanted to pursue which was the: School-based Disaster Risk reduction and Management Training-Workshop. I was able to receive funding from an international institution for the said project and it is now the stand-alone project in the region on School-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM). The Department of Education (DEPED, Cagayan de Oro) made my project as a model for future DRRM projects that the division will undertake. The city government  was interested in replicating the project to cover more schools that were at risk of the effects of disasters.

QUT’s input on inclusive education particularly through the auspices of Mr. Nelson Salangsang who sent me relevant materials, enabled me  to successfully conduct a webinar on inclusive education in developing countries whose platform was made in Washington D.C .and whose audience were composed of  scholars from more than 77 countries in the world last May 31, 2013.

After my stint in Australia, I finished my PhD through a Fulbright scholarship in USA. Truly, the kangaroo opened new  doors  into  a world beyond my immediate circumstances. What QUT relentlessly did bore delightful fruits and made new doors open wide . I am now a pro in doing the things I do best- training people and making them see their greater selves.

I may not have literally seen the mythical creature” sigbin,“ but I have seen the kangaroo; I have seen Australia and it brought more than good luck to me.

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