Joji Ilagan Bian, Champion Educator

Along with the Chairman’s birthday is the founding anniversary of the Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Incorporated. It was a great day not just for Joji Ilagan Bian, but for the people behind the success of the Foundation as they were able to reminisce the start of something great that happened in their lives when they belonged to the JIB family. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Along with the Chairman’s birthday is the founding anniversary of the Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Incorporated. It was a great day not just for Joji Ilagan Bian, but for the people behind the success of the Foundation as they were able to reminisce the start of something great that happened in their lives when they belonged to the JIB family. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” said Nelson Mandela, a statement that will in no doubt stand the test of time. Its meaning is being put into action by individuals who have chosen as their life calling the task of teaching and mentoring.

The capacity to inspire people to be better and strive for their maximum potential is a gift. It takes patience, tenacity and a deep passion to help others. To be a teacher and educator entails a great degree of selflessness, where the people around you matter the most. It stands to be one of the most difficult jobs out there, but Filipina educator and entrepreneur Joji Ilagan Bian has taken on the challenge and is savoring the journey.

Her resume is comprehensive, and she plays multiple roles in education, business and choice government initiatives. These come only next to her familial obligations as wife, mother and grandmother. In no way does Joji feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities brought she has taken on. In fact, she takes pride in them.

“My fulfillment comes with being able to transform lives,” says Joji, who has founded nine schools in the Philippines to date, in the areas of business, tourism and hospitality.

“My school and other businesses continue to prosper as they are managed by special men and women who share my passion and love for my work. My employees are like ‘tiny grains of rice’ as they nourish and nurture all of our businesses.”

Joji comes from a family that emphasizes discipline and hard work. Her father, Jose Ilagan, was a lawyer from Taal, Batangas, and her mother, Ma Celina Javellana Ilagan, a homemaker, from Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Joji credits her parents with having influenced her the most. She tells me, “They always taught me to believe in myself and to always dream big.”

Joji’s entrepreneurial and career-oriented spirit are also reflected in her own family. She is married to entrepreneur George Hao Bian, and the couple has three children and four grandchildren.

Joji Ilagan Bian manages to balance her time between work and family, most especially to being a loving wife to her better half George Hao Bian. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Joji Ilagan Bian manages to balance her time between work and family, most especially to being a loving wife to her better half George Hao Bian. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Her eldest, Dyan Joyce Hao Bian, resides in Vancouver, Canada, and runs her own preschool, The Learning Place. Her son, Michael Hao Bian, runs his own call center in Davao City. Another daughter, Nina Nicole Bian, manages all Bian’s hospitality and tourism schools. Evidently, business and a high priority for work run in the family.

Davao City, a booming metropolis on the island of Mindanao, is where Joji has made a name for herself. She spent her early schooling in the area before moving on the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, graduating with a degree in hotel and restaurant administration. She eventually returned to Davao City and built a career for herself in education and hospitality, while also participating in government, cultural and philanthropic initiatives.

The Joji Ilagan Foundation – College of Business and Tourism is one of Joji’s biggest accomplishments. Outside of this, she is chairperson of several international schools, including the Institute of International Culinary and Hospitality Entrepreneurship (Davao City), the Stockbridge American International School (Davao City and General Santos City ), the Joji Ilagan International School of Hotel and Tourism Management (General Santos City), International Management School of Tourism, Hospitality and Entrepreneurship (Davao City), and Career Institute of Southeast Asia (Davao City).

Joji Ilagan Bian, Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Incorporated (JICCFI) Board of Trustees and the Joji Ilagan Career Institute of Southeast Asia (CAISA) Faculty Members and Staff took a pose with the JIB Sunday school graduates with highest honors during the CAISA Commencement Exercises. This makes the JICCFI even more special as we see every single day an opportunity to learn. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Joji Ilagan Bian, Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Incorporated (JICCFI) Board of Trustees and the Joji Ilagan Career Institute of Southeast Asia (CAISA) Faculty Members and Staff took a pose with the JIB Sunday school graduates with highest honors during the CAISA Commencement Exercises. This makes the JICCFI even more special as we see every single day an opportunity to learn. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Joji Ilagan Bian (Chairman) and Nicole Ilagan Hao Bian (Vice President for Education Development) together with the Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Incorporated faculty and staff were working hand-on-hand to ensure quality education, exceptional service and educational standards to the JIB students. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Joji Ilagan Bian (Chairman) and Nicole Ilagan Hao Bian (Vice President for Education Development) together with the Joji Ilagan Career Center Foundation, Incorporated faculty and staff were working hand-on-hand to ensure quality education, exceptional service and educational standards to the JIB students. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Her work has been duly recognized as she received several awards in recent years. She is a Datu Bago 1997 awardee in business and education, the highest award conferred by Davao City to individuals who have made an impact to residents. Also, she is a 1997 Kabalikat Laang Bising awardee for her promotion of development of technical vocational training in the Philippines.

Joji’s commitment to service is grounded on a deeply religious faith, which she attributes to her mother’s spirituality. “My mother practiced and preached kindness and selflessness,” Joji adds. “I learned from her the virtue of humility. ”

Her tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit come from a drive to help others, and this is shown in her continuous involvement in education, tourism, politics, religious affiliations and business. Despite her achievements, she remains deeply cognizant of the opportunities that have come her way.

The students of Institute of International Culinary and Hospitality Entrepreneurship (ICHEF) wore their prettiest smiles as they pose with the Chairman-Joji Ilagan Bian and the management. A brighter future awaits for them in the field of work as they have graduated in a ‘truly international and truly global’ International School”. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

The students of Institute of International Culinary and Hospitality Entrepreneurship (ICHEF) wore their prettiest smiles as they pose with the Chairman-Joji Ilagan Bian and the management. A brighter future awaits for them in the field of work as they have graduated in a ‘truly international and truly global’ International School”. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Many can teach but only few are worthy be called as teacher. Joji Ilagan Bian’s remarkable love and closeness to children makes her different from other women. Her big heart is what keeps her in the success that she has experienced through time and what makes her loved by others. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

Many can teach but only few are worthy be called as teacher. Joji Ilagan Bian’s remarkable love and closeness to children makes her different from other women. Her big heart is what keeps her in the success that she has experienced through time and what makes her loved by others. (Photo courtesy of Joji Ilagan Bian)

“My life is a tapestry of different weaves and colors, symbolizing the very diverse experiences that give me a wider perspective and understanding of the complexities of life,” she observes. “I have walked the halls of power, as well as dined with the poorest of the poor, and from these experiences, I have learned that it is what we share with others that matters most. ”

Even in the midst of myriad accomplishments, it is her sense of gratitude and keen self-awareness that make Joji Ilagan Bian a role model to emulate for generations to come.

Website: www.jojiilagancareercenter.com

The author wishes to thank Anna Mae Cubelo and Pete Collado for their assistance in the interview.

Video to follow:


Serina Aidasani

Serina Aidasani

Serina Aidasani divides her time between New York and Chicago. She works in marketing communications and public relations.


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