Loida Lewis’ Daughter Debuts in With Child at NY Filmfest


Joseph G. Lariosa


CHICAGO — The independent film With Child, critically-acclaimed during the Critics’ Week of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, headlines the 2015 SOHO International Film Festival New York City at the Village East Cinema Auditorium today.

With Child features Leslie Lewis in her first starring role after creating and starring in a one-woman show, Miracle in Rwanda, based on the life-story of Immaculee Ilibagiza, who survived the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Miracle in Rwanda was viewed by over 10,000 theatergoers in six continents.

It was Leslie Lewis’ jubilant mom, the Filipino-American civic leader and philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, who broke the news about the popularity of her daughter’s film in a three-way phone call with this reporter and her other friend Marlon Pecson, who are both based in Chicago, Illinois.

“Tickets have been sold-out for the first screening,” said the lady lawyer. “Another screening is being lined up.”

Directed by Titus Heckel, With Child tells the story of a blue-collar construction worker Auden Price (portrayed by Kerry van der Griend) and his journey after his wife’s death. Despite protests from his sister-in-law, Auden chooses to raise his four-month-old daughter alone. He encounters challenges as a single dad looking for work, and then soon finds himself spun around by the romantic advances of his eccentric new employer, Petra Dell (played by Leslie).

“Three years ago, Titus Heckel wrote With Child with my friend Kerry van der Griend in mind to play the lead. Kerry suggested me for the role of Petra, and when I read the script, I thought it would be a good fit for my first film as lead producer. It has been an utter joy to work with this team, and I love the message of the film: What we choose now affects our past,” said the elder daughter of Loida, who is a native of Sorsogon City in the Philippines.

A Harvard graduate like her father, Leslie also has an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) degree in acting from the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television.

Leslie, one of the two daughters and heirs of the late Reginald Lewis (the richest African-American in the ‘80s), is also passionate about fitness, being a certified yoga instructor and co-author of the Athlete Mindset Workbook.

Along with her mother, Leslie hosted a $10,000-a-plate cocktail party fundraiser for President Barack Obama in their luxurious Upper East Side penthouse in Manhattan, New York City last May 4.

“There is a thin line between comedy and tragedy, and I am fascinated with the odd appropriateness of comedy in the light of sadness and vice versa. My film straddles this line,” said director Titus, who is also co-producer with Leslie. Titus’ wide-ranging education, which includes a degree in Physics and a Master’s in Theology, gives him a unique perspective on the stories he tells.

With Child is Titus’ first feature film, which began its festival run last year at the largest Asian Film Festival in Busan. Its trailer can be watched by visiting its official website: www.WithChildMovie.com.

Tickets to the North American premiere screening of With Child at the SOHO International Film Festival can be purchased through http://childbridge.eventbrite.com.

Parties who may support the Indiegogo Campaign can visit the website: http://bit.ly/withchild.

The SOHO Film Fest expects to draw audiences to New York City, known for its artistic community and cultural sophistication, helping boost the profile, the sense of pride and the economy of the local community and the city itself.

The Film Fest accepts full-length features, short films and documentaries from professionals and amateurs. It holds screenings and panels, and hosts social events and other networking opportunities for everyone involved. Leading figures from all disciplines of the film industry, including distributors and media, will be in attendance.

The festival features appearances by the cast and crew and holds post-screening Q&A with them.

SOHO Film Fest’s executive director and head of programming is Sibyl Santiago, daughter of Filipino veteran actress and director Lorli Villanueva, and a recipient of The Outstanding Filipino Americans in NY, Arts & Culture Award at the Carnegie Hall.


Joseph G. Lariosa


Filipino Network in Europe Convenes in Malta

Melissa Legarda Alcantara @inquirerdotnet
INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau / U.K. Correspondent
August 7, 2015


MALTA – A network of Filipinos in Europe met here July 31 to August 2 to review their goals of empowering Filipinos overseas and helping promote good governance in the Philippines. It also elected a new board of directors.

The European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD) Annual General Meeting and 2nd European Regional Conference of Overseas Filipinos took place at Hotel San Antonio, welcomed in person by Malta’s President Marie Louise Preca.

Around 80 delegates attended the conference, mainly from Europe, as well as dignitaries from the Philippines such as Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas, Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) under the Office of the President of the Philippines.


The conference is seen as a significant bridge for cultural exchange between the Philippines and Europe, as it provides a channel where European Filipinos can hold dialogue with one another, as well as with government and non-government bodies, on an international platform.

First of its kind

The first regional organization of its kind, ENFiD seeks to engage and empower the Filipino community in Europe, and represent European Filipinos with the Philippine Government as well as with their host countries to the European Union. The organization is now also in the EU Transparency Register.

Among its good governance objectives include: online registration and voting for overseas voters; joining the effort to make China withdraw from the islands in the West Philippine Sea; declaring overseas regions (such as Europe, USA, Middle East) as political districts to enable Overseas Filipinos to stand for office similar to the party list system; and the transportability of European national health service benefits to the Philippines.

ENFiD was born in September 2012 following the first European Regional Diaspora 2 Dialogue Conference held in Rome, attended by delegates from across Europe and beyond. It was formally registered as a voluntary organisation with the Malta Commission on Voluntary Organisations in early 2014.


CFO Secretary Nicolas, accompanied by Director Regina Galias, thanked ENFiD “for having the courage to take up the challenge of continuing the dialogue” among Overseas Filipinos.

Nicolas further exhorted the conference to “continue to serve as the role model for the rest of the Filipino communities around the world,” and to continue “inspiring commitment and honing organisational skills to continue what [was] started from the three successful Global Summits held in Manila in 2011, 2013, and in February of this year.”

Filipinos as friends

Her Excellency Maltese President Marie Louise Preca gave an inspirational speech, which was very positively received by the attendees. She stated, “As Maltese, we look at Filipinos as our friends.”

After praising ENFiD for its “endeavour in promoting and upholding the interests, rights and welfare of Filipinos living overseas”, H.E. Preca continued: “Filipinos living overseas are well respected [and] contribute to the productivity and well-being of [their resident] countries.”

“This is true for the Filipino community living and working in Malta, that I can vouch, which is estimated as nearly 4,500 now.”

Preca concluded: “Malta is grateful to the Filipino workers who conscientiously fill a gap in the labour market.”

Ambassador to Czech Republic Victoriano Lecaros, Consul Jed Dayang (Czech Republic), Consul Rob Bolivar (Brussels), and Consul General Senen Mangalile (UK) represented the diplomatic corps.

Learned much

Ambassador to Czech Republic Victoriano Lecaros said he learned much from the two-day conference by keeping his ears and eyes open and his mouth shut, which elicited laughter.

“It’s something of a surprise what I heard this afternoon about relationships with embassies,” said Ambassador Lecaros. “Make no mistake, the embassies are there to serve the communities. We are not your masters. We are extensions of the Government from back home.”

Consul Jed Dayang spoke about social remittances and cultural diffusion of Filipinos in Europe, assuring participants that an embassy is a “house of Filipinos overseas.”

Consul Robspierre Bolivar covered the continuing saga of the West Philippine Sea, while Consul General Senen Mangalile (UK) enlightened the conference on the Phiippine government’s efforts to stop human trafficking.

Expert speakers

There were expert speakers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other European and Philippine institutions, including President and CEO Alex Padilla of Phil. Health Insurance Corp. who introduced the Phil. Health scheme to European Filipinos, as well as delegates and bloggers from the USA.


Attorney Rodel Rodis of US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG) and INQUIRER.net columnist said: “I think think Europe is critical because what you’re doing here in Europe [ENFiD] is more of the prototype of what we want to see built in other continents, in Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand – more than our experience in the U.S.”

Several artists shared their world-class talents at the conference, including performer Stephanie Reese and musician John Florencio (both involved in the Paris production of Filipino musical “Marco Polo: An Untold Love Story” by Roger Saldo Chua); Maltese mezzo soprano Connie Francis Zerafa; and accompanist Dr Romola Morrow.

New Board

A new Board of Directors was elected to serve European Filipino communities for the next two years. Five new ENFiD Country Representatives were also selected, including members from Norway, Malta, Switzerland, Ireland and Italy.

The full board now includes the following from across Europe: Chair, Gene Alcantara, UK; Vice Chair, Rohlee de Guzman, Netherlands; Secretary, Marison Rodriguez, Czech Republic; Treasurer, Renee Ikdal, Norway; Leonor Vintervoll, Norway; Cheryl Sevegan, Israel; Vanda Marie Brady, Ireland; Virgilio Cuizon, Germany; Nadeen Viloria Shaw, Malta; Rachel Hansen, Sweden; Romulo Sabio Salvador, Italy; Betsy Jance Vonatzigen, Switzerland; and Dennis Mana-ay, France.

Outgoing Board member Msgr. Jerry Bitoon of the Vatican Curia becomes an Honorary Board Member as he gets assigned to the Philippines. Atty. Amelia Alado, ENFiD-UK Chair, remains as Legal Adviser.


ENFiD also announced the winners of the first ever ENFID Essay Writing Contest: Jaye de la Cruz of Netherlands in first place, winning €700; Marj Akil of UK in second place, winning €500; and Richelle Craw of Czech Republic in third place, winning €300.

Special thanks were given to Maltese businessman Kevin Attard of Attard Holdings for his vital role in the success of the conference, as well as ENFiD Malta representative Jaime Bernal and the team from the Filipino Maltese Community. Marie Luarca-Reyes, outgoing ENFiD Executive Director, was singled out for having worked tirelessly to bring the event together.

Melissa Legarda Alcantara @inquirerdotnet
INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau / U.K. Correspondent
August 7, 2015


Filipinos In Diaspora Urge Aquino Not to Join Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China's Maritime Grab An Issue


The Filipino Australian (TFA)


MANILA — Thirty-three Filipino community leaders and their respective groups based outside the Philippines recently wrote President Benigno Aquino III urging him not to join China in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The leaders of the various groups from the United States of America, Australia, United Kingdom, and Europe have expressed their “dismay” that the Philippine Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima signed a Memorandum of Agreement joining China in forming the AIIB.

New York-based Filipino-American philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis, who is also chair of the US Pinoys For Good Governance, heads the groups of signatories.

In their letter dated May 18 to President Aquino, the groups asked: “…how could our government be in partnership with China when she is shamefully defiantly grabbing what does not belong to her?”

China has reportedly been in rapid construction of eight artificial islands within the Philippines Exclusive Economic Zone.


Analysts said that this rapid reclamation is China’s strategy in pre-empting the decision by the United Nations Convention of Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) Tribunal to be handed down sometime in early 2016.

It is expected that the decision on the case lodged by the Philippines against China a year and a half year ago on their maritime dispute would favour the Philippines.

But China is also expected not to abide by the UN Tribunal’s decision.

“By refusing to dispute our case, and subject itself to the UN Tribunal’s jurisdiction, when UNCLOS tribunal decide the case against China, she will defiantly ignore its decision. China knows that possession is 99% of the law”, the groups said.

The AIIB is an international financial institution proposed by China in 2013 to provide finance to infrastructure projects in the Asia region.

According to reports, almost all Asian countries and most major countries outside Asia except the US, Japan and Canada had joined the AIIB as of mid-April.

“Therefore, joining China in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is like a father receiving funds knowing that the funder is raping his daughter. He ignores that he and his daughter belong to one family”, the groups said.

“The Republic of the Philippines is one country, and we cannot separate financial gain from territorial integrity!”

The Bank is expected to be fully established by the end of 2015 after signing of its articles by Prospective Founding Members as from June 2015.


The Filipino Australian (TFA)


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