“Every great achievement is the victory of a flaming heart.” If Ralph Waldo Emerson were still alive today, he, certainly would be writing with this woman in mind. Yes, this woman, who inspires awe, and yet her equanimity clasped tightly to her resilience. Her clutching to her principles, amidst antipathies and resistances are indexes of her unparalleled strength, dignity and integrity as a leader. Her firmness is tempered by the gentleness of her personality. She exudes the wisdom of the sages that she can gracefully turn out unexacting and light a careworn and steamrollered atmosphere. Her frivolous and frolicsome personality makes her the life of a gathering, the verve of an event, and the liveliness of a party. Her heart flames with passion – passion for work excellence and passion for unequaled performance, which eventually, without even thinking of it, without even working for it, without even knowing she would get it, she was conferred the Albert Shanker Education Award during the 7th World Congress of Education International in Ottawa, Canada, Shaw Centre on July 25, 2015.
But Dr. Luisa Bautista- Yu, the Regional Director of DepEd Regional Office No. 8, received the award after she has proven to the international community, yes, to the whole world, that she could cast the brightest glow of her influence as a leader, amidst the murkiness of frustrations and failing hope, that she could lead her people to persevere and tenaciously live on, and that she could successfully inculcate in her men the courage to face every trial and brazenly employ the intelligence innate in them. Above all, she has gradually brought back faith and hope when the world almost saw no reason to cling on to these values. This was on November 8, 2013, when a catastrophe stripped her and her men of virtually everything, including several lives. This was the severest test to her resilience, gentleness, wisdom and passion. But Dr. Yu inspired everyone to keep on fighting amidst a life of trouble and difficulties. Her strength of character, her focus and her intelligence were put together as she faced the challenge and vowed to make a difference in the lives of her constituents, most particularly, the survivors. In her acceptance speech, she vividly recalled: “In my long experience as a professional, Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan tested my character as a school leader.
I had to deal with the situation for the welfare of our school children and teachers. Haiyan left Eastern Visayas with about 9, 000 partially damaged and 2, 000 totally damaged classrooms covering 1, 400 schools, affected 25, 975 teachers and employees and 676, 455 learners. About 30 teachers/employees and 530 pupils perished. Being the Regional Director, I encouraged everyone to move on and do whatever we can to rebuild what we have lost. The recovery was not easy. Amidst numerous problems is the challenge for us who were victims ourselves to still be the force in rebuilding not only our personal lives but more importantly, the education sector.” It was the sternest ordeal for her, because Dr. Yu, who felt the necessity to rise up, put on a smile, and appear brave and strong was also a victim. Her family like her men, also needed her. But as her heart bled with pain and snag, she gracefully warded off cynicism from her stance and wore the sweetest beckoning smile she could as she extended her own arms to pull her people up and join her in moving on.
She was a mother, then, gathering her children under her protective wings, as she continually searched for hundreds of missing ones. Now, after two years, while the ruins of Typhoon Haiyan still greet the eyes of travelers, while other government offices and establishments still struggle to recover and rebuild, the Department of Education under her leadership, has gradually moved on, and is now in the nearing completion phase of rebuilding and rehabilitation. In her speech, she gave due credit to the benefactors. She said: “… we made it with the support of our benefactors—Local and International organizations, the Department of Education Family—from the National Office, the different Regions of the country and other Schools Divisions of Region 8, Local Government Units, even private individual and anonymous donors. Because of them, we are continuously inspired to build back the dreams of our school children. This afternoon, I am privileged to say, “Thank you to the World…Thank you to all of you for showing compassion to our school children.” Yes, through these all, Dr. Yu’s concern was never a life of luxurious existence for herself and her family, but a life of service and compassion for the school children, a life centered on building back the shattered dreams of the children.
In the midst of the glory and honor that was bestowed to her on the day of the awarding, Dr. Yu, who has long established a reputation of humility and servant leadership, gave back to the DepEd children, to her family, to her colleagues and above all, to God, the mark of distinction and accolades that she received. “I consider it an honor to lead about 40,000 teachers and one million students of Region 8-Eastern Visayas. This award means a lot to the educators of the Philippines that I represent. But more than this, my biggest reward is knowing from my students that I have made a difference in their lives. “Above all, this award would mean nothing without our Divine Creator who enabled me to be a Servant Leader. To HIM, I owe everything. And for the great things HE has done for me and my beloved country, it is but fitting to give my heartfelt gratitude and honor. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!” The Director concluded her acceptance speech with praises to God for making her an instrument of his mercy and compassion. For these all, she was given two standing ovations by the crowd of topnotch educators and leaders all over the world. And as she walked down the stage, carrying with her the symbol of her excellence, the world joins her in the celebration of her victory – the victory of a flaming heart.#