The Filipino-Australian community in collaboration with Adhika, community groups, and award-winning writer Merlinda Bobis will celebrate the resilience of women and girls in a program called 'Lakas Adhika' in time for International Women’s Month (IWM) in March.

‘Lakas Adhika’, which means ‘strength of aspiration’ in Filipino, will be held on Friday, March 17 from 6pm-8pm at Dooleys Catholic Club in Lidcombe, Sydney.

The program threads together real life stories from women and girls, traditional and contemporary music, poetry, and an exhibition of drawings by children survivors of Haiyan. Bobis has assisted Adhika in developing the program, which she hopes can extend the usual International Women's Month celebration.

During the early days of planning the event, Bobis asked: "But where are the young girls? Why do we just celebrate the women? Shouldn't we be giving as much attention to the next generation that must continue this lakas adhika, this drive for empowerment for themselves and their communities?"

She is in good company. One of the most high-profile advocates of gender rights is former First Lady Michelle Obama who last year launched her own women & girls initiative.

“We are very honoured to have Merlinda on board ‘Lakas Adhika’. Her work will go a long way in giving voice to the stories of women and girls, their victories and their challenges,” said Josie ‘Pines’ Musa, founding president of Adhika, an association for Filipino-Australian radio broadcasters and journalists.

“Being an accomplished and multi-awarded writer, she is an inspiration to the next generation of writers in our community,” she added.

Among the storytellers and singers performing on the night are Christine Torres, Cleo Baltazar, Jasmine Henry and Robyn Russell, with poetry readings by award-winning journalists Violi Calvert and Michelle Baltazar. Bobis will also be sharing her works on women and girls surviving and holding back actual and life storms.

Bobis, whose latest novel ‘Locust Girl. A Lovesong’ won the prestigious Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, hopes that the program can inspire future events that give more space and time to the stories and voices of young people.

The event will also give Tribute to the Adhika 2017 Inspiring Women, with esteemed guests, the Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis, Consul Melanie Deano and the Sonata Singers.

The program runs from 6pm-8pm. Tickets to the event are $30 and includes drinks and canapes.

Proceeds from the event will go towards a school library in Bicol, Philippines, which was devastated by Typhoon Nina late last year.

For ticket or sponsorship enquiries, contact Josie Musa on 0404 631 438, Michelle Baltazar on 0412 906 224, Violi Calvert on 0408 22 77 94 or Cez Lapus on 0416 153 990.


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