Academic, mother and MCWH RAP Manager
Lilac is a gender equality advocate and advisor, university lecturer, Philippines cross- cultural trainer, and a devoted mother of two school-aged kids. She is passionate about promoting women’s rights in all domains of her life and she just so happens to be our new Research Advocacy, and Policy Manager!
What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Backyard gardening. I’m not really a huge gardener, but I enjoy watching vegie seeds grow, stem, fruit, and then cooking, eating, and then composting what remains. My kids love it, too
What is your best quality or attribute?
I’m resilient. I can give my all for a particular cause or ambition. I can get hurt badly, but I also can stand up and start afresh, enjoy the slow walk, without losing the vision.
What is the best part of your day?
Preparing and devouring my cacao drink in the morning. It’s made of organic cacao powder and nibs, with some milk, virgin coconut oil, salt, cinnamon, and peppermint oil.
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty. The ability to accept, listen and love you without conditions.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Hold your head up, because you are capable and beautiful. You’re not perfect, and nobody is. Give and live the best version of yourself every day. If you feel awkward, and did a mistake, it’s okay to laugh at yourself.
What’s your favourite word in any language? Why?
Kabilinggan. It’s an Ilonggo word that loosely translates to ‘self-worth.’
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
To ‘prove’ that I am a capable person. My credentials from overseas say it all, but being a woman from a non-English and white background, I feel that I have to show evidence that I was really good.
Can you describe a time when you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant or refugee background?
I was on my way to catch my flight in Germany, and somebody noticed my luggage tag destination Philippines. He smiled at me and asked, ‘did you come here for love’? Embarrassed but also adamant, I said, ‘I came here for a book project.’ He gave me his business card and said, ‘if you want to return for love, let me know.’ He was working in a match-making company, and I was obviously conceived as potential mail-order bride.
For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background? I consider myself as a transnational migrant. I speak several languages, and have the capacity to empathise with other migrant/refugee people. Many times, people typecast me in the position of weakness, but actually, we have so much strengths and capacities.
If you could invite any woman (dead or living) to dinner tonight, who would it be?
My maternal grandmother Rosita. I was her favourite, and she gave me 100% attention when we’re together. She was an awesome story-teller, cook, church choir member, and matriarch.
Name a book or film that changed your life.
So many. But I would mention the Bible and the Merriam Webster dictionary. During my growing-up years, we didn’t have a lot of books at home, but we have these. Reading these have transformed me to not just love books but libraries.
Do you have a song/music that inspires and motivates you?
Joey Ayala is a Filipino musician. His lyrics and the way he uses indigenous instruments are just soul-penetrating. His subject ranges from environment, to peace, equality, immortal love, I especially love his song ‘Walang Hanggang Paalam’ [literally, “Never Ending Goodbye”]. It talks about being together in the same struggle while physically distant from each other.