By Josephine Darang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE LAST time I was in New York, in September 2008, my friend Loida Nicolas Lewis was proudly telling me that her daughter Leslie Lewis Sword was doing a one-woman play based on the book written by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a woman who survived the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, where almost a million Tutsis were massacred by members of the rival Hutu tribe.
“Miracle in Rwanda” will finally be shown in the Philippines in July 2010 at the Insular Auditorium in Makati, after its world premiere at the Theatre Zone in Naples, Florida, then at the New York Soho and other cities in the United States and other continents. Produced by the Lewis College in Sorsogon, the evening performance on July 16 has been bought by the Cofradia de la Inmaculada Concepcion Foundation through vice chair Danny Dolor. Executive producer is Roger Chua.
For tickets, please text Liza (secretary of Loida Lewis) at 0919-4103770.
Leslie Sword, a graduate of Harvard and UCLA Schools of Theater, Film and Television, plays the role of Immaculee and delineates the roles of six other characters. The award-winning actress is the daughter of Fil-Am philanthropist and civic leader Loida Nicolas-Lewis and the late lawyer Reginald Lewis. Leslie crafted the play with co-creator Edward Vilga after Leslie traveled to Rwanda with Immaculee.
Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during the three-month slaughter that began in April 1994. For 91 days, she and six other women huddled silently cramped together in an undiscovered extra bathroom in a local pastor’s home. Loida told me the women constantly prayed the Rosary while they were there. The “miracle” was that the women were able to survive, and that, for Immaculee’s part, she was able to forgive the murderers.
For the past 30 years, the Catholic Women’s League of Silay, Negros Occidental, has been teaching catechism to public school students. In 1981, the San Diego Parish catechetical committee invited pianists Della Gamboa Besa and Annie de Guzman for a fundraising concert called “Tribute Musical,” in honor of the late Perla Velez Gamban. It was Gamban who raised funds to support and maintain the tremendous undertaking of bringing God to public-school children.
The program is presently under the auspices of the Catholic Women’s League of Silay. Della and Annie were asked again to perform in a “Homecoming Love Offering” on February 13 at the Jose Locsin Civic Center. They performed an all-Filipino repertoire. In charge of the event were CWL president Evalyn Tan and directors Ma. Rosa Gamban and Ruska Gamban.