Ambassador Patricia Ann V. Paez (second from right) with founder of the Jewish foundation “From the Depths” Mr. Jonny Daniels (extreme left), film director Mr. Noel “Sonny” Izon (second from left), and Jew Socio-Cultural head in Poland Mr. Arthur Hoffmann
Part of the audience during the film showing
“An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines” premiered on 17 July 2016 at Sala 2 of Palac Kultury’s Kinoteka in a well-attended event.
In her welcome remarks, Philippine Ambassador Patricia Ann V. Paez recalled that as early as the Spanish inquisition in the 16th century, the Philippines had already accepted a number of Jewish refugees.
She added that the Levy brothers escaped from Alsace-Lorraine, France during the Franco-Prussian War and said that after the Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glasses”), President Manuel Quezon offered refuge to the Jews in Nazi Germany.
Subsequently, President Quezon made available 10,000 visas to the Jews for travel to Philippines where he built a housing community in Marikina and allocated hectares of land for them in Mindanao.
Ambassador Paez also said that in 2009, the “Open Doors Monument” to recognize the Philippines’ humanitarian support to the persecuted Jews in Nazi, Germany, was unveiled in 2009 in Rishon Lezion.
The 90-minute documentary film is about the virtually unknown story of how the Philippines, in cooperation with American and Jewish Allies, were able to save more than 1,300 Jews prior to 1941. The film focuses on the stories of survivors and their children, and their experiences while in the Philippines during those tumultuous times.
The event was organized by Mr. Jonny Daniels, founder of From the Depths Foundation and Mr. Arthur Hofmann, Chairman of the Socio-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland.
The documentary film was written, produced and directed by award-winning film maker Mr. Noel “Sonny” Izon and co-produced by author/historian Dr. Sharon Delmendo. This is the third film in his World War II trilogy “Forgotten Stories”.
The film is an international HD production filmed on location in the United States, Europe, the Philippines and Israel. Survivors and their children are the main storytellers. Filipino and American eyewitnesses to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines between 1941 and 1945 also served as resource persons.
The film will also be featured in this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival in Manila, in Capetown in November, and in Tel Aviv in January 2017. Ambassador Neal Imperial of the Philippine Embassy in Israel and Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago were also among those who gave their insights in the film.
Mr. Izon posing with the family of a Holocaust refugee
Ambassador Paez with Mrs. Kathryn Izon and Ms. Bonnie Harries
Mr. Izon (center) together with Mr. Jack Simke (third from right), a descendant of a Holocaust refugee and Consul Randy B. Arquiza (extreme left) and members of the Filipino Community in Warsaw