Ten outstanding Aussie-Pinays were recognised in the annual Adhika IWD forum last week. 

Due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, the organisation behind the Inspiring Women Awards hosted the ceremony online, to coincide with their annual forum discussing women's issues such as domestic violence, mental health and gender inequity.

This year's theme was 'Choose to challenge: choose to care', encouraging Adhika members, supporters and awardees to choose kindness as a means to address many of the inequities in life, particularly towards women.

The forum and awards were held over two days and was posted live on Adhika's Facebook page. Under the umbrella theme of 'choose to care', the speakers discussed caring for yourself and others, cross-cultural care, caring for your health in times of Covid-19 and caring for the planet.

As a not-for-profit organisation representing community media, the forum also featured the launch of Neria Soliman's 'The Scent of Dangkalan Leaves'.

To watch the recognition ceremony and see the replay of the forum's program of talks and conversations, you can check out the recordings on Adhika's FB page or click the images below.

This year's awardees are (in order of introduction):

1. Manna Risa Baja–Maniago is an accomplished counsellor, psychotherapist and the managing director of Kairos Group Australia Pty Ltd, an organisation that provides mental health and community care services around Sydney. 

She has written articles for leading magazines, conducted seminars and has been invited as a resource person to help promote the importance of mental health. She has written and published two journals about importance of Gratefulness and Goals. She was the recipient of the 2020 Ausmumpreneur Award for Multicultural Business Excellence.

2. Emma Josefa Becares Matoza  - chief financial officer at a company, nurse and world-class chef. She devoted 45 years of her life looking after her family including her sick mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer’s. 

Emma is the widow of Roberto Matoza and mother to Emily Matoza–Quimpo, Ruth Matoza and Elaine Joy Matoza–Quimpo. Together with her husband, Emma raised reliable, ethical and women engineers.  

3. Ellaine Lamasan - an exceptional Perioperative Nurse Unit Manager who specialised in orthopaedics. She developed new processes and managed new systems within the Orthopaedic Department of Operating Theatres.

Ellaine’s qualifications include a Master of Clinical Nursing (Specialisation - Orthopaedic Nursing); Bachelor of Nursing with Professional Honours (Post Graduate Diploma Level) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

4. Marie Bembie Girado (youth awardee) - PhD Candidate at Sydney University and public servant since 2010 in government offices. She’s a community researcher in multiple fieldworks in the disadvantaged and conflict-affected communities. She was also a researcher at World Bank, Innovations for Poverty Action, Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. and the Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance - De La Salle University.

5. Eunice Andrada (youth awardee) - completed Bachelor of Arts - Anthropology from Sydney University. Her first poetry collection Flood Damages (2018) won the Anne Elder Award for the best debut poetry book of the year.  Her individual works have won the John Marsden and Hachette Australia Prize (2015) and have been shortlisted for the Fair Australia Prize (2018). 

6. Ruby Eaton (Hang Yi Yang) was the lady mayoress of Wyong from 2012 to 2016. She has served in the Wyong Council Multicultural Committee and hailed as a Multicultural Leader of Central Coast.

Ruby was also a board member of Women's Health Centre.

A survivor of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, she’s been the organiser of Chinese cultural festivals for many years.

7. Milagros Lopez, RN - A registered nurse graduate from the University of 

the Philippines, clinical educator at Westmead Hospital for over 40 years, a dedicated teacher, mother and friend to all of the Filipino community.

She was the recipient of the Excellence Service Award in Nursing at Westmead Hospital in 1996. 

Mila was also awarded Best Poster at the 9th National Education Conference for work entitled "The Clinical Resource Nurses; A new Title for an Old Role".

8. Dr. Julie Nunez was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her outstanding contribution to the Filipino community as a volunteer for almost 30 years.

She is one of the founding members of the Philippine Health Care Association of Australia (PHCAA) and has been the President of the Philippine Australian Community Services Inc.  (PACSI).

She was named ‘Blacktown Woman of the Year’ in 2010 and Premier’s Awardee for Community Service in 2011.  

9. Sharlene Gamo is Little Miss Philippines Australia in 2006 (First Runner Up) at the age of three. She’s a university student at UTS studying Interior Architecture. During her first term in the University, she achieved First Place in Design and Technology and has been involved in various voluntary performances and representative sports.

Sharlene has performed at various concerts with artists from overseas and at community events. A Young Ambassador for Culture and the Arts, she has also performed at the Kpop Core Showcase UNSW.

10. Marikit Santiago is a Filipina-Australian artist.  She studied Medical Science at UNSW but later switched and finished Bachelor of Fine Arts, which garnered her the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence. She followed this with a Master of Fine Arts, under an Australian Postgraduate Award.

Marikit had five solo exhibitions and won 26 Awards; the first was in 2009 as People's Choice Award in Hornsby; finalist for the Archibald Prize in 2016.  

She won the coveted Sulman Prize in 2019.

Four of the 2021 Adhika awardees were present during the live broadcast on Day 2 of the forum.

This year's Adhika IWD Forum and Awards was organised in partnership with Kababaihang Rizalista, Inc and held as part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine-Australian diplomatic ties.

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