Service and Advocacy Projects


Looking Back

Over the last 68 years, Zonta Manila 1 has embarked in diverse projects united only by the common objective of enhancing the status of women in the community. It has made adjustments and introduced innovations to its service projects to address the evolving needs of the communities served keeping in mind that holistic and integrated services which cater to different aspects of the target community’s life would be most beneficial and effective. In the early years, the Club sponsored countless seminars on various topics to improve or uplift the status of women, engaged in literacy program, livelihood and self-help projects, and scholarship for indigents.

In the 70’s Zonta Manila 1 established the Manila Aquarium not only to beautify the Walled City but also to enhance awareness of the wonders of the ocean. A fitting complement to the Aquarium with its rare collection of Philippine fish was the beautiful orchidarium which was landscaped in an adjoining lot in the Puerta Real Gardens. Through personal donations from club officers, members and friends, the Manila Aquarium was maintained for around 10 years. Unfortunately during the 80’s these projects had to give way to the government programs for the restoration of Intramuros.

In 1981, upon request of two (2) Jesuit priests, the Club embarked on the Tondo Feeding Program which was to be its flagship project for the next nineteen (19) years. Began as a feeding program providing malnourished children in the Tondo community, 6 to 74 months old with an early lunch and an afternoon snack with weight gains and other components of the program being closely monitored, it evolved into a scientific program showing, among others, that imported milk could be replaced with indigenous foods, such as tagunton, dilis, tokwa and oil, that would provide the calcium and protein found in milk. A grant to the Club financed a scientific study which showed that when coconut oil is chemically treated with the fatty acids of corn oil, the structured lipid produced, enhanced the recovery of malnourished children when used as cooking oil in their diet. The weight gained by this group of children was significantly higher than that gained by comparable groups of children who were given soybean oil, pure coconut oil or a physical mixture of coconut oil and corn oil.

Following the establishment of the Tondo Feeding Program, it became necessary to acquire a permanent establishment in which to conduct the Club’s feeding and other community-based activities. In the early 90’s the Club acquired a 200 square meter lot from the National Housing Authority on which a 2-storey building was eventually constructed. This was made possible through the concerted and determined fund-raising efforts of Manila Zontians. The Club’s Tondo Center was inaugurated on June 4, 1997.

Over the years, manpower and development training in such skills as bartending, waitering, plumbing and electrical repairs, dressmaking and tailoring, backyard business opportunities, herbal remedies, cooking, bag-making, refrigerator magnet making, making of soap, sinamay and abaca flower making, reflexology, hair science and cosmetology have significantly enhanced livelihood opportunities for women.

The Club instituted the “Impok Piso” and micro entrepreneurship programs designed to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship in the participants.

Scholarship programs for poor but deserving high school students and seminarians have been expanded. The establishment of a Z Club was enthusiastically embraced by the high school students.

The Club sponsored free surgical missions, aptly termed “Alis Bukol”, and provided support for American surgeons performing harelip operations.

Medical examinations to detect tuberculosis and other diseases, along with optical and dental missions have been sponsored regularly free-of-charge.

Campaigns against drug addiction and violence against women have been pursued.

The occurrence of natural disasters and calamities has invariably elicited generous contributions from the Club and its members.

As part of community service, Manila 1 Zontians conduct values formation and catechism classes which on several occasions culminated in mass baptisms.

The Club continuously supported the Nutrition and Health Kiddie Class (NHKC) conducted at its Tondo Center in cooperation with the Nutrition Foundation of the Philippines. The NHKC has abandoned much of the dole-out features of the Tondo Feeding Program by enlisting the active involvement of the mothers in promoting the health and nutrition of their children, while providing basic education in food and nutrition, personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, and reading, writing and arithmetic. From its humble beginning as a single class for 27 preschool children, the NHKC now conducts three classes for more than 180 preschool children.

In order to assist women in depressed communities to augment their meager incomes, the Club enlisted the services of a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) trainer to conduct the Basic Reflexology Course in various locations in Tondo, Quezon City and Muntinlupa. More than 900 participants, mostly women, received a TESDA Certificate of Completion. Many of the participants are now engaged in full-time massage and reflexology as their main source of livelihood, generating incomes ranging from Php200-300/hour. Others have gone abroad utilizing their TESDA Certificates as evidence of additional skills. Many are utilizing the skills learned to provide first aid to ailments of family members. Significantly, many have volunteered to be trainers for succeeding batches. The Club partnered with

Gawad Kalinga in building a community in Fabella Street, Mandaluyong City called the Gawad Kalinga Zontaville (GK Zontaville), thus becoming the first women’s organization to adopt a GK village. GK Zontaville is a three-level housing development consisting of 46 units for 46 families, numbering 177 individuals. Subsequently, Zonta Manila 1 built another community in Pantaleon Street, Mandaluyong City called the Gawad Kalinga Zontaville II. This second project consisted of 20 units for 20 families on land previously owned by the Mandaluyong City Government. Both projects have been completed.

As Manila 1 Zontians have tapped into the Club’s resources and those of its generous members and friends to finance the construction of the housing units and to promote the development of an integrated, holistic, sustainable community based on the principle of “helping others to help themselves”, it joined hands with the beneficiaries in laying the blocks, applying the paint to what will be their future homes, building a resilient relationship based on mutual trust, respect and friendship.

The Club conducted livelihood and skills training programs to prepare women prisoners at Camp Karingal to rejoin society and conducted tutorial programs for abandoned female children housed at the Nayon ng Kabataan, Welfareville.

The Club provided scholarship grants for 80 deserving high school students at the Raja Soliman Science and Technology High School and the Eulogio Rodriguez Vocational High School. Stipends of PhP 5,000 each are used to pay for materials for school projects and other expenses. Inability to purchase materials for school projects had been cited as one of the common causes for a senior student’s failure to complete secondary school requirements. The students typically belong to families with no stable income, the parents being either unemployed or mere casual workers. Approximately 32% are children of broken homes. Despite their poverty, the scholars manage to maintain a good academic standing, with an average of not less than 82.6. Many of the scholars graduate at the top of their class and are the recipients of special awards in academics, leadership, sports and arts. For the school year that ended in March 2011, the top awardees were Zonta scholars.

Z Clubs have also been organized in these schools and have become vehicles for providing the students with lectures on values formation, career opportunities, the law on sexual harassment, the laws on the rights of the child and the law on anti-violence against women and their children.

Having built shelters, and completing the first phase of Gawad Kalinga’s over-all vision of community development, the Club will continue to assist Gawad Kalinga in promoting other components of community development - health, productivity, education, kapit bahayan empowerment environment enhancement and values formation.

The Club has also institutionalized and systematized revenue generation through the holding of its annual Christmas bazaars.

Indispensable to the continued growth of any organization is sustaining membership interest. Zonta Manila 1 has tried to accomplish this challenging feat through the conduct of monthly board and membership meetings at which engaging speakers discuss the current political and social issues as well as a variety of interesting topics ranging from art, music and wine appreciation to setting up an organ bank, and faith healing. Close camaraderie is actively cultivated through the annual Christmas parties, birthday celebrations, other fellowship activities and the solicitous concern of members of the Sunshine Committee. Growth is ensured through the identification and active recruitment of dynamic and committed members.

The Club continued to actively participate in Zonta inter-club, area, district and international activities. Manila 1 Zontians have always been counted upon to attend area, district and even international conferences and to actively participate in musical numbers, fashion shows and other activities showcasing native Filipino talent.

Although Biennum 2020-2022 started on a not too hopeful note on June 01, 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, Zonta Manila proceeded with notable projects such as; provision of hygeine kits to women detainees of Camp Karingal Quezon City Police Department Women’s Facility, laptop donation for a deserving student in a public high school through the Jesuit Sacred Heart Mission in Caloocan City, donation/collaboration with ACED (Ateneo Center for Educational Development) food rationing program, donation of 65 tablets to ASHI (Ahon sa Hirap) for deserving “nanays”, donation of bottled purified water and cash donation for food packs for communities affected by Typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses, donation of tablets to deserving students of three public schools in Quezon City ( Flora A. Ylagan High School, Ramon Magsaysay High School, Jose P. Laurel High School) and donation to Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc or Kasuso Foundation which will provide one year Tamoxifen treatment plan for 20 breast cancer patients, still focusing on empowering women and helping their children. On June 1, 2021, Zonta Manila I celebrates 69 years of zealous commitment to Zonta’s goal of advancing the status of women through committed service!

(Sourced from the article “Zonta Club of Manila” published in the 50th Anniversary Souvenir Magazine written by Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma, Lulu Tesoro-Castaneda & Regina Padilla-Geraldez)