Fil-Am judge in San Diego recognized as one of the ‘Most Influential Filipina Women in the World’

By: Mary Villegas - Inquirer Manila | October 14,2023 - 05:15 PM

San Diego Judge Rohanee Zapanta

San Diego Judge Rohanee Zapanta

Injecting a little positivity in a world where recent news can be a bit too grim, the recognition of San Diego Judge Rohanee Zapanta as one of ‘Most Influential Filpina Women in the World’ is an inspiring light to many.

Past awardees include former Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, Inquirer’s director of sales in the US Esther Misa Chavez, and former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Gore Cantil-Sakauye.

To be honored in the prestigious “100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World” by the Foundation for Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) this Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 in Prague, Czech Republic is truly a big deal.


“It feels like a warm embrace from my Filipina sisters,” Judge Zapanta spoke of the recognition.

Aside from being a reputable title, this award is also a symbol of unity and empowerment, highlighting women from various careers who are impacting change in the countries they now live in. Zapanta is one of the 19 outstanding women chosen from a set of nominees from 34 countries.

FWN recognizes women who leave an indelible mark in their respective careers and local community. Awardees are nominated by their peers and a chosen group of past recipients.

Why Judge Rohanee Zapanta is worthy of the accolade

What makes Zapanta stand out? Aside from her remarkable resume, including attending cases in the Juvenile Court, she’s also only the second Filipino-American judge in San Diego County. She had been a public defender for 13 years.

Born in Hawaii and raised in San Diego, Zapanta’s goals aren’t just restricted to the courtroom. She also engages with high school students, relaying the symbolism of judges’ black robes and emphasizing how they deliver justice not based on who they are but based on law.

Being an awardee, this San Diego judge plans to use the title to work with global organizations, making short videos that feature Filipino core values through music and film. Her cultural values based on “kapwa” (the Filipino concept of connection and shared inner self) are major factors in her journey.

2012 and 2022 “Most Influential Women” recipient Kristine Custodio Suero says, “When you can see it, you can be it.”

On top of these accolades, Zapanta juggles her time as a mother and a martial artist who practices Kempo during her free time. Growing up as a child of immigrants, her story is a testament to the power of perseverance.


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TAGS: Influential Filipina, judge, Leni Robredo, San Diego

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