Elizabeth Zimmerman

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Elizabeth Zimmerman
Elizabeth Zimmerman 2018.jpg
Zimmerman in 2018
Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman[1]

(1948-04-14) April 14, 1948 (age 72)
EducationAteneo de Davao University
(m. 1973; civ. ann. 2000)

Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman[2] (born April 14, 1948) is a retired Filipina flight attendant and the former wife of the Philippine’s 16th President Rodrigo Duterte.

Early life[edit]

Zimmerman was born on (1948-04-14)April 14, 1948[3] in Davao. Her paternal grandfather was a German Jew who migrated to the United States. Her parents are from Hilongos, Leyte and Tuburan, Cebu.[4] She attended Ateneo de Davao and worked as a flight stewardess for Philippine Airlines.[5] Zimmerman is Jewish.[6][7]


Zimmerman ran for city councilor of Davao City in 2001 but was unsuccessful.[2] She joined the Biyaheng DU30 bus caravan which went around Visayas and Mindanao, in support of her former husband's presidential bid in 2016.[2][8]

Personal life[edit]

Zimmerman was married to Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte (who later became President of the Philippines) for over 25 years. She has three children with him, including Paolo and Sara Duterte. She filed for a civil annulment in 1998. For a few months at the time the annulment was filed, Zimmerman had been living with her brother in Manila but occasionally visited Davao City since her children with Duterte were still studying there. Duterte has admitted that his ex-wife left him after she caught him cheating. The civil annulment was granted in 2000.[5] After the annulment, Zimmerman remained friends with her former husband.[9] She chose to continue using "Duterte" as part of her surname despite the annulment, saying that her marriage with Duterte has never been declared null by the Roman Catholic Church.[2] She has 8 grandchildren, 5 from her son Paolo, and 3 from her daughter Sara. She also has 1 great-grandchild.

In August 2015, Zimmerman was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.[9]

In October 2016, Zimmerman successfully recovered from cancer. She then became a breast cancer advocate. “Because God gave me a second chance in life, I should advocate for this very noble cause, to become a source of awareness, support and hope to others who are suffering the same as I did,” she said in an interview.[10]


  1. ^ "Lawyer on Duterte: 'It ain't over until it's over'". ABS-CBN News. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Calleja, Niña (17 April 2016). "Campaign road trip reunites Duterte, ex-wife". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  3. ^ Gitgano, Flornisa (15 April 2016). "Duterte drops by Cebu to see ex-wife on her 68th birthday". Sun Star Cebu. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  4. ^ https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/67125
  5. ^ a b "'Philandering' Rodrigo Duterte cause of marriage annulment". Rappler. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  6. ^ Ranada, Pia (4 October 2016). "Jewish community applauds Duterte after apology". Rappler. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  7. ^ Mendez, Christina (5 October 2016). "Duterte: No offense meant, my ex-wife is a Jew". Philstar.com. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  8. ^ Alconaba, Nico (5 April 2016). "Duterte's ex-wife joins 'Biyaheng DU30' campaign in VisMin". Inquirer Mindanao. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  9. ^ a b Caduaya, Editha (29 November 2015). "Duterte and ex-wife: The ties that bind". Rappler. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  10. ^ Abinales, Patricio N. "The grace of Elizabeth Zimmerman and Sara Duterte". Rappler. Retrieved 2020-07-05.