Danilo Jr Vidad
Danilo Jr studied Security, Peace-building and Diplomacy MSc.
Prior to studying at Loughborough University London in 2017, Danilo was an active officer in the Philippine Armed Forces, a role he continues now, as well as a security officer to the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.
What were you doing before you started your master's?
I got my Bachelor's Degree in the Philippine Military Academy in 2008 and got commissioned in the regular force as an ensign in the Philippine Navy in the same year. Upon graduation from the Academy, I was assigned to different areas throughout the Philippines, from the northernmost end to the conflict areas in the southern islands.
I had chances of attending foreign training in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; engaged in bilateral exercises with foreign navies; and impartd my knowledge through classroom discussions with my fellow navy officers.
In 2016, I applied for the competitive Chevening scholarship and got selected in 2017. My first choice to take my master's degree was, of course, Loughborough University London!
Why did you choose to study at Loughborough?
I chose the Security, Peace-Building and Diplomacy MSc at Loughborough University London because Loughborough University offers opportunities to learn from some of the UK's leading professors and innovators. I was convinced that I could obtain the perspectives, skills, and network that will allow me to help my nation address regional security issues as well as the local conflicts.
I believe that Loughborough University has the right tools to widen my perspective on how to approach different security concerns and learn the methodologies in addressing security, peace-building and diplomacy on both the global and regional levels.
How did you fund your studies?
My study was fully funded by the Chevening Award of the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. From the tuition fee up to my everyday living, I got everything I needed with the help of the Chevening Award.
What do you enjoy the most about your time at Loughborough University London?
The thing that I enjoyed the most is the diversity in so many aspects of university life. Having classmates from different corners of the world allowed me to learn new ideas from people with different perspectives in our classroom discussions. From these discussions, I learned diverse approaches in looking into things using different perspectives. The vibrant classroom discussions enabled me to share my views on different topics at hand. Through these, learning is not only based on the professors' viewpoint, but also from the bright and diverse students from all over the world.
In terms of university support system, aside from the traditional support given by Loughborough such as mentoring and advise from staffs, I built so many relationships with a diverse group of students from different courses. My diverse university friends became part of my important support system. Beyond the university walls, we help each other cope with living in a foreign land for most of us. The friendship we established surely lasts a lifetime. Believe me, it's almost two years after graduating and we are constantly in touch with each other.
Describe a day in the life of a postgraduate student on your course
A day in the life of a postgraduate student and as a Chevening scholar studying my course, begins with preparatory reading ready for my classes in the afternoon. This eases the whole day as it makes me confident in participating in classroom discussions. Discussions cover different theories which involve case studies on international security, peace-building and diplomacy. The course explores the link between national and global security and the role of peace-building in developing multi-layered communities and nations.
Course assessments (mostly academic essays) is a constant in university life. If you make reading and writing a habit, these assessments will just breeze without you noticing it. Speaking of assessments, don't worry as I was not also used to writing critical academic essays before I entered Loughborough; the university dedicates an academic adviser for you to learn all of this together with your other academic requirements.
Going to the campus (which I never get tired of!), has plenty of options; you can take the underground, ride a bike or stroll in Queen Elizabeth Park to the campus. You are never out of recreation options as there are plenty of sports facilities nearby. You have the whole Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to run to, you can swim in the official London 2012 Olympic swimming pool at London Aquatics Centre, or you can work out in the Copper Box Arena. Hanging out in nearby pubs for a pint of beer by the canal side is always an option to hang out with friends.
Remember, postgraduate courses through the Chevening scholarship, are not solely about developing professionally and academically; it is also networking extensively, experiencing UK culture and building lasting positive relationships.
If you could give one piece of advice to a postgraduate student, what would it be?
Maximize the learning, meet new people and maintain the friendships and personally experience being in Great Britain!
How has Loughborough University London inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?
Having been a serviceman in the Armed forces for more than a decade, I have encountered fellow servicemen from different nations through military exercises, training, seminars and other social gatherings where the common goal is to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relationships. After my master’s degree at Loughborough University London, I now feel more confident in engaging in these kinds of international defence interactions to improve and develop foreign relations.
Loughborough taught me that improving international relationships is a never-ending endeavour; at the same time, it taught me to critically analyse the different international security relations that countries engage in. Loughborough inspired to be more engaging and at the same time critical of the international security engagements which the Armed Forces of the Philippines may be into.
One day, I hope to be one of the policymakers or leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP). The knowledge I gained from Loughborough will be instrumental in uplifting the AFP’s current capability in terms of international relations and addressing contemporary regional security issues that my country will be facing.
Can you tell us about your career journey so far and the organisation you are currently working for?
As a Philippine Navy Officer, I have been assigned to various units of the Philippines’ Armed Forces. During the first few years of my career, I was assigned at the forefront countering terrorism and insurgencies at the Philippines’s southernmost islands; in different Navy ships patrolling the Philippine seas. A significant accomplishment was when our team captured rebels during the Sabah Standoff in 2013.
I was transferred to different parts of the country and eventually to the Philippine Navy Headquarters. Compared to my previous posts which are comprised of numerous naval operations, this one is more on administrative work and resources management. I was then transferred to the Presidential Security Group – securing the Republic’s President was our primary task. And in 2016, I was detailed as a close-in security officer to the Vice President of the Philippines.
In 2017, I got my scholarship from Chevening and took my master’s degree at Loughborough University London. In 2018, I went back to the Armed Forces and was assigned in the Peace and Development Office; the office in charge of monitoring, assessing and recommending sound proposals to address the different peace tables that the Philippine Government is currently engaged in. After a short stint in the Peace and Development Office, I was reassigned back as a security detail to the Vice President.
Presently, I consider my career journey as one which is on the early path of leading the different Armed Forces’ units in the future. Through different positions and assignments, learning and growing go hand-in-hand in preparing for my positive roles in the next years to come.
What do you love the most about your current job?
I believe that serving the nation is an admirable thing individuals can do; living a life of service is noble.
Borrowing the words of Allen West, 'the armed forces exist solely to ensure that the nation is safe so that each and every one can sleep soundly at night, knowing there are guardians at the gate'. This is the essence of my profession’s existence – my job. This is what I love about my current profession – guarding not just the gates for everyone to sleep safe and sound but also securing the future as well.