Myrna Aquitana_LighthouseIntroduced by Deputy Consul General Imelda Panolong as “cool, calm and composed” the Filipino American community of Los Angeles welcomed Leo Herrera-Lim as the new Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, whose jurisdiction includes Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

A career diplomat, Consul General Lim arrived on Thursday, April 17, 2014 after serving as the Consul General of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, Illinois where this writer used to live and briefly speaking with him about it as we share common friends in Chicago’s Fil-Am community. He assumes the post left by Consul General Hellen Barber-Dela Vega who is now with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.

In his animated welcoming remarks, Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim describes this new post as a “more challenging” post because it encompasses a wider range of responsibility. As compared to his previous post, Chicago’s Fil-Am community only comprises an area much like San Diego’s 350,000 Filipino constituency. Lims’ vision for the LA Fil-Am community includes a collective “progress together” working relationship. He will leave his door wide opened accessible to those who wish to speak with him and encourages everyone to just “knock” on his door.

During our brief conversation, this writer learned that we share the same Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines, though he belongs to the younger generation while Ambassador Willy Gaa and I were contemporaries. He has a degree in Economics and Law and is married to Fidelis Cariño. They have a son, Leonardo Ignatius and a daughter, Frances Leanne.

Prior to his Chicago post, Leo Herrera-Lim has represented the Philippies in the United States as Second Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. from  1991 to 1998, where he experienced financial interactions with the World Bank Group, Intelstat,  U.S. Department of State and U.S. Treasury. He was formerly First Secretary and Consul in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Consul General of the Philippine Embassy in London from 2000 to 2007.

Herrera-Lim has previously served in various capacities at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila such as: Special Assistant  in the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy (OUP) and in the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration (OUA).  He also served as Director of the U.S. Division of the Office of Legal Affairs and Assistant Director of Treaties Division of the Office of Legal Affairs. He was with the Office of Senator Edgardo Angara and the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan.

Included in his career expertise, Herrera-Lim has extensive experience with foreign government, international organizations and financial institutions. He was also a member of: Philippine Delegation to the United Nations (UN), and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and treaty organizations. He was “intricately involved in the crafting and formulation of Government policies and positions on bilateral, multilateral and special issues.”

In his closing remarks, the very personable Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim thanked the LA Fil-AM community for greeting him with a warm reception. Welcome to Los Angeles, ConGen Lim we look forward to a great leadership. We’re here to support you!  Mabuhay!

On a similar welcoming event, the LA Fil-Am Catholics attended special masses across the Southland on Sunday, April 27, 2014 to celebrate Pope Francis’ canonization of former Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.

At the All Soul’s Catholic Church which is this writer’s parish, the Rev. Joseph Kim Dang Nguyen related his experience as a novitiate during Pope John XXIII’s papacy. Fr. Nguyen recalled that former Pope John XXIII noticed his “different look” but embraced him as “one of his children.”  His unforgettable presence just mesmerized the young novitiate and certainly, that chance meeting will forever be in his memory. Now that the former Pope has been canonized as a saint, Fr. Nguyen knows that he has been blessed.

On the same note, this writer’s high school classmate, Lornia Cruz-Juico was tearful in recalling her family’s personal experience when they had an audience with then Pope John XXIII during their visit to the Vatican. They were also part of the Catholic flock when former Pope John Paul II visited the Philippines twice in 1981 and 1995. Also, on one of in his last visit to Los Angeles, they were all mesmerized witnessing the former Pope John XXIII noticed a disabled boy with no hands playing guitar and he invited the boy to go with him back to Rome to sing in the choir. Lorna’s family are forever grateful to have witnessed and experienced both popes in their lifetime.

For the benefit of those who wish to know more about the two canonized Popes, the parishioners of All Soul’s Church were priveleged to receive a brief background on the two Popes.

Pope Saint John Paul II whose real name was “Karol Josef Wojtyla,  was born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland.  Much of his advanced education was obtained underground after the Nazis invasion of Poland , and in 1942, he entered the clandestine seminary in Krakow. He was ordained a priest in 1946, a bishop in 1958,  was appointed  archbishop in Krakow in 1964, and elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1967. He was elected to the Chair of Peter as Pope John Paul II in 1978. His lifelong devotion to the “Most Holy Madonna” was expressed in his papal motto, “Totus tuus (“Totally Yours), dedicating himself, his papacy and the world to Mary. A groundbreaker in many ways, he was the first Polish Pope and first non-Italian pontiff in four hundred years. He was a worldwide traveler, visitnag places  where no pope had gone before. and opened dialogues with Protestant and Orthodox denominations. He was tireless in his work for the poor  and powerless, speaking out against war, economic injustice  and political oppression. He left the Church more than a  dozen encyclicals and scores of other documents, and beatified and canonized more than a thousand men and women from all walks of life. He died on April 2, 2005, was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on May 1, 2011 and recenly canonized by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014. “

Pope Saint John XXIII’s real name was Angelo Giuseppe  Roncalli, born on November 25, 1881, in Sotto Monte, Italy. “He was ordained a priest in 1904, a bishop in 1925 and elevated to the College of the Cardinals in 1953. He was elected to the Chair of Peter as Pope John XXIII in 1958.” Dubbed as “The Good Pope” he was “perhaps the most influential pope of the 20th century. When he was elected at the age of 76, many thought he would be a short-term caretaker until his successor was chosen after his death. He surprised the Church and the world with his reforming spirit, manifested most poignantly  when he convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962, which laid out a broad new vision and a set of reforms for the Roman Catholic Church. While pope, Saint John XXIII internationalized the College of the Cardinals, revised the code of canon law and wrote eight papal encyclicals. He died on June 3, 1963. He was beatified by pope John Paul II on September 3, 2000 and canonized by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014.

Filipino Catholics not just in Los Angeles but all over the world certainly welcomes the blessed canonization of our most venerable leaders.

Filipino American community of Los Angeles welcomed Leo Herrera-Lim as the new Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles

Filipino American community of Los Angeles welcomed Leo Herrera-Lim as the new Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles