Meet this remarkable, driven, and intellectually inquisitive woman and her musings
After her retirement from the family business of hotels and restaurants, Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio went back to the University of the Philippines for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing, which she obtained in 2000. Since then she has edited/coedited six outstanding anthologies. Itʼs no surprise that Linda has received countless awards most notably the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, to name a few. Apart from writing, Linda is also a visual artist. She exhibited her oil paintings in four group shows, and in three solo exhibitions. She speaks Spanish, French, Italian, and basic Japanese. Her past leadership of the Philippine National Committee for UNIFEM, (UN Women today) as its president from 2000 to 2002, and then as chairwoman from 2004 to 2006 shows how sheʼs been tirelessly working in the pursuit of women empowerment.
She was president of the Zonta Club of Makati & Environs from 1984 to 1986, and thereafter became the first Zonta International District 17 Foundation Ambassador. She also served as District Secretary, and was elected Chair of the Nominating Committee. In 2006-2008 she served as International Chairman for Public Relations & Communications of Zonta International. Currently she serves as Chair of the Archives Committee of District 17, and is a member of the ZI Centennial Committee.
Linda muses that she responded to the invitation to join Zonta because she was attracted to its focus on women empowerment. She also saw it as a way of “giving back” to society through Zontaʼs projects that uplift a marginalized sector of Philippine society. It is said that women hold up half the sky hence their importance in the scheme of creation. It is no wonder that Zonta’s goal of empowering women through service and advocacy appealed to her
What makes you proud to be a Zontian?
I am proud to be a Zontian because our organization can make a difference in the lives of women and children through our various service projects and advocacies. Being a member makes me a better individual because it becomes a constant reminder to myself to try to be of help to the marginalized members of society. As a member, one is expected to contribute time, effort and money to our projects. Our service projects also teach members the importance of team work while creating harmonious and close relationships within the organization.
Mrs. Erlinda Panlilio awarded for 50 years in service at Zonta Club of Makati and Environs
What keeps you active in the organization?
A few months after joining Zonta, I was asked to join the Fellowship Committee. Two years later, I was elected to the Board, and four years later, I was elected president of the club. After that, the various District Governors had always appointed me to Chair a District Committee— mostly as Newsletter Editor, or Chair of the PR Committee, and once as Co-chair of the Organization & Extension Committee. These and club meetings and events have kept me active in the organization. My friendship with members also helped as an initiative to stay and be active in the club.
How do the Zonta initiatives and advocacies impact your life and the lives of those around you?
One has to adopt the organization’s initiatives and advocacies and become involved. Our service projects and advocacies have a great impact on the lives of our beneficiaries. Our scholarship program has improved the lives of our scholars by giving them access to better jobs and therefore better lives for them and their families; so have our livelihood programs. Our Marillac project not only heals and takes care of the emotional well-being of the victims of sexual abuse but has also enabled them to get the justice they deserve. I can go on and on.
What do you think is your most significant contribution to the club?
Well, my time is precious, and I have contributed a lot of it, along with my efforts and funds to Zonta’s advocacies. These, of course, consist of spearheading the club as its president, contributing to the construction of homes at the Zonta-GK Village, therefore improving the lives of 35 families. Our Area 5 clubs distributed over 15,000 birthing kits to pregnant women. At one time we had a birthing clinic to help decrease mortality rate due to childbirth infection. Our club was also able refer these battered women to the proper facilities where they could heal and seek legal help.
Which Zonta goals resonate with you the most?
That women’s rights are human rights; saying NO to violence against women; giving women equal access to resources and jobs; equal pay for women.
What do you envision next for Zonta?
Through the organization’s leadership and guidance, we can expect more gains in women empowerment and rights. One of the most important for me is the elimination of child brides or early marriage and NO to violence against women. These two goals, when achieved, will create a better and more humane society for all.