Tuesday, June 27, 2023

VP Sara has NO Jewish Bloodline!

The online blog Politiko, in a recent post, once more displayed the laziness that many journalists and pseudo-journalists in the Philippines today are wont to be. They rehashed an already debunked claim that the former wife of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, was the child of a Jewish refugee in World War II. Using this "Jewish connection", Politiko and several other columnists have criticized Vice-President Sara Z. Duterte for opposing the request of the American government to temporarily provide shelter to 50,000 Afghans who are former employees of the US government during their occupation of Afghanistan while they fix their papers. The media has reminded VP Sara that her maternal family, the Zimmermans, benefitted from the benevolence of the Philippine government when her Jewish ancestor was one of German Jewish refugees who found refuge in the country during the Holocaust, so why is she opposing giving safe haven to the Afghans? But the question is, were the Zimmermans REALLY Jewish refugees during World War II, to begin with? 

When Vice-President Sara Duterte's father was elected President in 2016, one of the first state visits he made was to Israel. Our relationship with the State of Israel has always been quite special due to the refuge we gave to more than a thousand Jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe. It must be remembered that President Manuel L. Quezon opened our country’s doors to Jewish refugees from Europe during World War II and in so doing saved the lives of more than one thousand and three hundred Jews fleeing the Holocaust. Because of President Quezon’s bold move, known as the Philippines’s Open Door policy, his memory would forever be remembered and known to the Jewish people. He also guaranteed that the world will forever remember that Filipinos have always represented the spirit of compassion, solidarity, and humanity for a very long time, long before the Philippines had official immigration laws or became a State party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, being among the first to voluntarily provide asylum to successive waves of refugees fleeing persecution.

President Manuel L. Quezon with some Jewish refugees in Manila (from The Times of Israel)

So, naturally, their reception for President Duterte and then Mayor Inday Sara was more than just perfunctory; in fact, the Israelis were more than welcoming due to a claim made by PRRD that his former wife, and the mother of his three children, was the daughter of one of the Jewish refugees aaved by President Manuel L. Quezon's Operation Open Doors. The Israelis embraced Duterte and his daughter like one of their own, especially since the Israeli media made such a big deal of the so-called Jewish connection with a Philippine President. 

President Duterte and daughter Sara visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in 2018 (from The Times of Israel).

But all the hoopla about the Zimmermans being Jewish was nothing but the usual unverified oral history in a Filipino family plus the Philippine media's laziness to conduct a simple fact check of PRRD's claims of his former wife's Jewishness. While President Duterte cannot be blamed for believing in the Zimmerman family's oral history, we can put the blame of the media's refusal or inability to verify facts. Here are the facts: Elizabeth A. Zimmerman, the ex-wife of PRRD, was the daughter of two Filipinos: Godofredo Baldazo Zimmerman and Purisima Abellana. Elizabeth Zimmerman's father was born on November 18, 1916 in Hilongos, Leyte, Philippines, baptized on November 25, and died on June 26, 1993 in Davao City, Davao del Sur, Philippines. He was the son of George John Zimmerman and Cristeta Baldazo. Although he used Zimmerman as a last name all his life, both his birth and baptismal records list him under his mother's last name - Baldazo. His birth register in Hilongos, Leyte, while identifying him as illegitimate, does provide the name of his father: Geo. J. Zimmerman.

George John Zimmerman, the grandfather of Elizabeth, was born on January 17, 1890 in Peoria County, Illinois, USA to German immigrants, Michael August Zimmerman and Maria Augusta Wenzel.  Michael August Zimmermann, son of Andreas Zimmermann and Marie, was born on July 4, 1857 in Bayern, Germany and died on July 27, 1925 in Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois, USA. He married Maria Augusta Wenzel on July 12, 1883 in Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois, USA. Michael Zimmermann arrived in the United States in 1882. Michael Zimmermann was a tavern owner and true to his surname, also a carpenter. 

Michael A. Zimmerman

For most of his life, George John Zimmerman worked for Gordon & Ferguson Co. He prepared in Peoria H. S. and earned his AB in Business in Concordia College at the University of Illinois. He was a Phi Beta Kappa and Delta Kappa Chi. He worked with Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. in Chicago; as a Supervising Teacher in Hilongos, Leyte; and was already with Gordon & Fergusan, in St. Paul in 1918. After the birth of his illegitimate child Godofredo in Leyte in 1916, he returned to the United States at the outbreak of World War I. His military registration card describes him as "tall", "slender", with brown hair and brown eyes. By World War II, he was already employed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue in Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa and was already married to Josephine Johnson. He is further described as standing 5'11" in height and weighing 155 lbs. 

Sometime after returning to the United States, George Zimmerman married Josephine Mathilde Johnson and they had 3 daughters: Helen May Zimmerman (married name Allyn), Georgiana Zimmerman (married name Ginn), and Josephine Zimmerman (married name Moseley). Descendants of George's daughters are scattered in Washington, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

The Zimmerman lineage of VP Sara comes from Unterlangau, Bavaria, Germany, and German and Jewish genealogists have written that "Zimmermann" (and its variant Zimmerman) is the German equivalent of the English surname carpenter, as it is derived from the profession. The fact that there ARE German Jews with the name Zimmermann does not make it Jewish in origin. Also, census data from the district of Oberviechtach between 1900 and 1939, of which Unterlangau was a part, shows that the district's population was overwhelmingly Catholic back then, with just a single-digit number of Jews. Furthermore, US census and other records list Michael Zimmerman and his family as congregants of the Lutheran Church.

The Zimmermans as Lutherans

And of course, DNA testing in both the Philippine Zimmermans and their half-relatives in the US have further disproven the Jewish claim. Results from their ancestral breakdown clearly do not show any Jewish heritage. A German-Jewish grandfather (as claimed by Filipino journalists) would have shown up as 25% Ashkenazi Jew, great-grandfather as roughly 12%. But the family's DNA result shows 0%, which means a non-Jewish ethnicity. 

The politics of welcoming the Afghan employees of the US government is not the subject of this article. But journalists and columnists must always make sure that before they use genealogical tidbit to make a political point, they must first do a fact check of the information they simply rehash, otherwise they'd end up looking lazy and stupid. The funny and sad thing is that the "Jewish connection" of the Dutertes came from PRRD's unverified oral history, which the Israeli media simply accepted, and then which became the source of Philippine media, as well. So much for journalistic integrity. 


  1. Great post, Its glad that there are people here disputing this. Using virtue signaling to influence our politics. We the Filipino people decide who we let in to our country, This land is ours and ours alone and we have the responsibility to not let possible security threats in our country. As you heard a while ago we have the chinese problem, chinese workers committing crimes here. It is due to PRDD letting in these freaks. We should always be careful who we let in or else we suffer like what europe is suffering right now. It also pains me to see my fellow country men wanting to be something they are not. I have often heard Filipinos claiming to Be german, jewish, Indian, arab, chinese, American and of course the very famous "my family is spanish" when we all know the spanish didnt breed with majority of us. Also what is the hype with the jew? what is the benefit in being one of the worst punching bags in history.? Not to mention how they are often good schemers. Most Filipinos are Pure austronesian with some maybe having chinese ancestry, but people of old times barely would mix and would rather marry in their own culture. Nowadays people would like to have a foreign husband or wife. I Applaud our ancestors for remaining Full Filipino and we should be proud for not being tainted by other ethncities especially the jude.

  2. VP Sara has NO Jewish Bloodline! (filipinogenealogy.com 6-23)
    Hmm... sorry, I'm not convinced, but, it makes a great headline! The missing, scientific-sounding fact of the required 12% Ashkenazi Jew DNA may indicate no Ashkenazi Jewish decent, even if it's a true result, but in no-way does it deny the family their Israeli heritage. The cool thing about DNA data is that you're allowed to go further back; or more expansive research for earlier familial connections. Someone needs to conduct this research and please enlighten us regarding this. Regarding, “Full Filipino” decent, what exactly is that? On another note, what about the ancient historical Israeli influence on the Philippine culture prior to 1947? Like thousands of years ago? For example the many places & things in PI with Hebrew names, the same ones that invading nations failed to change, like during and after the Spanish-Colonial period for well over 300 years. Israel never conquered the Islands of the sea, so why is their heritage here? If you are really interested in far-eastern history – answer that.