Mariquita S. Castelo
The word Soroptimist comes from two Latin words"soror" meaning sister and "optima" meaning best. Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best.
The first Soroptimist club was formed in 1921 in Oakland, California, USA by women who were interested in volunteer service but who were prohibited from joining all-male organizations. From then to the present, members have continued to achieve the best for women through various programs of service through Awareness, Advocacy and Action.
In 1928, various clubs in the United States formed a federation now called the Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA). Much later, SIA admitted new clubs from South America and Asia. Today, SIA has about 1,430 clubs with 38,171 members in 19 countries and territories, including the Philippines.
The beginnings of Soroptimist in the Philippines can be traced to two women – Mariquita S. Castelo, a Filipina and Betty Beck Prosser, an American – who shared a commitment to serve others and uplift the status of women. Together, they worked for the establishment of the first Soroptimist club in the Philippines.
In a beautiful ceremony on April 1964, the Charter Members of SI Founder Manila were inducted by then SIA President Pluma Batten and on May 5,1966; the Officers were installed and the Club Charter was presented in a ceremony held at the Malacanang Palace with then First Lady Imelda R. Marcos as the guest of honor and speaker.
From Manila, the spirit of Soroptimist spread to Davao, Baguio, Naga, Cebu, Cabanatuan, Iriga, Malolos, Daet, Dagupan and the rest of the country. Soroptimist thus flourished in the Philippines with 84 clubs and 2,020 members, continuing the same spirit of service that lives on through the untiring efforts and commitment of current Soroptimists.
Soroptimist International comprises four federations worldwide:
Soroptimist International of the Americas
Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, United States of America
Headquartered in Cheshire, England
Women and girls have the resources and opportunities to reach their full potential
and live their dreams.
Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.