Priiti Mae Bandril: Teacher, Advocate & Bill Author of the SPED Bill of 2017

A teacher, an advocate, an author, a leader, a person of pure inspiration. Have you ever met anyone that are all these? I have. Meet Priiti Mae Bandril. She’s a 19 year old from Marikina City currently studying in Miriam College Quezon city, taking up BS child development and education minor in special education. She’s doing her practice teaching at the Miriam College Child Study Center. She’s also a teacher who wants to change the world for the better, and wants to inspire others to do the same.

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(Photos courtesy of Facebook)

Priiti was a co-delegate of mine at the Philippine Model Congress, and her passion for change and her determination for mental health and SPED awareness definitely inspired me. Here, she’ll share her story on her journey and how she was able to entice change to society in her own way.

Since when were you passionate about mental health/special education? What inspired you to become an advocate of this?

Since I was a child, I really loved and enjoyed pretending to be a teacher whenever I play. That’s one reason why I chose education. During a family reunion way back in highschool, I’ve met a distant cousin of mine (a cousin of my cousin from another side). This boy is already 17 y/o yet he’s just learning how to walk… Then in a snap, he’s already pulling my hair.. I was really shocked and hurt and scared at the same time. After that happening.. Knowing that he has special needs i realized why did it come to a point na he’s already 17 meaning he wasnt given early intervention when he was younger?

I was scared, I had these notions that this will be hard. But I went for it. I chose SPED as a major. Not knowing what might happen in the near future.
 
Then there were times that I almost gave up.. But as I was immersed with different people with special needs, I gained motivation once again.. Sabi ko, if walang maglalakas loob na tulungan sila, paano na? 
I (also) remember yung quote na be the change you wish to see in the world.
How’s your experience so far in taking up SPED and how’s your experience so far with teaching students at Miriam?
As we go through our lessons, learning theories and concepts here and there, it all boils down to practical application eh. When it comes to our ojt (what we call practicum), you have to think instantly eh, how can I help this child? How can I touch their lives and be able to make a difference? Na kahit To follow 3-steps rule lang matutunan niya.. Kahit hindi na To add and subtract numbers… Or kahit for him to be toilet trained okay na. 
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(Photos courtesy of Facebook)
As a bill author of the SPED Bill of 2017 at the Philippine Model Congress, what did it feel like to be able to spread awareness to others? How was the process of writing the bill?
As an author of the bill, I actually feel one step closer to inclusion, to an inclusive, discrimination-free community. That’s my main goal kasi eh, that as early as grade 1, children will be aware of PWDs and that there would be no bullying, stereotypes, marginilization and stigma about disabilities and special needs. I felt empowered as well because as a youth leader, I believe we can already do something to address these kind of issues.
As a teacher and advocate, how can you encourage other people to become part of the solution for mental health here in the Philippines? What message do you have for them?
As an educator, I do really believe that mental health shall be given attention to. We shall not pressure our students nor tell them that they’re just overreacting. We must understand that there are these kinds of things; anxiety attacks, depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts and so on. Being able to hear about depression and suicide, as individuals, we should educate ourselves, read about mental illnesses and learn about the signs and symptoms. As an advocate for SPED and mental health, I believe we can raise not just awareness but also stop the stigma and help these people overcome their fears of being judged. Mental health is just as important as physical health. We may not see the symptoms of such disorders immediately that is why we have to let them feel that it is acceptable and we can do something about it.

 

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“As a teenager, growing up, I thought moodiness, unexplained crying, sleeping difficulties are just part of puberty.. little did I know that there is such a thing called mental health which is just as important as physical health. We must understand that there are such things like anxiety attacks, depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts and so on. And I believe we can raise not just awareness but also help stop the stigma and help these people overcome their fears of being judged…

Hindi lang kami “nag-iinarte”
Hindi kami “nag-ooverreact”..”

 

Priiti serves as a true beacon of light to fight for what we believe in and to stay passionate about things we stand for. Her story sheds light on the importance of perseverance and encourages others to have a will to create good change to society.

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