Born and raised in the Sorsogon City, Philippines, Lewis comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her father started one of the country’s largest furniture manufacturing firms, Nicfur.
She attended her secondary education in St. Agnes Academy (formerly Academia de Sta. Ines), the oldest Catholic school in Albay, Philippines.
Lewis graduated cum laude from St. Theresa’s College, a private, Roman Catholic women’s college in Manila, Philippines (that location has since closed). Later, she earned a law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law and was admitted to the Philippine Bar.
Lewis was the first Asian American to pass the American Bar without having been educated in the United States. She is eligible to practice law in the Philippines and New York.
A wide and frequent traveller, Lewis learned to speak English, French, Spanish, and Tagalog. She currently resides in New York City with her two daughters.
Loida Nicolas-Lewis is probably the richest Filipino living outside her home country. She is the chairman and CEO of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc., a two-billion-dollar corporation of 64 companies based in 31 countries. TLC is a marketer of ice cream in Spain and the Canary Islands, the leading manufacturer of potato chips in Ireland, and a prime distributor of beverage in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Thailand.
A lawyer by profession, Loida is also an author, a philanthropist, and an active leader of the Filipino community in the United States. She owns the distinction of having been the first Asian woman to pass the New York State bar exam without having studied law in the U.S. As a businesswoman, she was ranked number 1 among the “Top 50 Women Business Owners in America” by the Working Woman magazine in 1994.
In the United States, she is known as the remarkable woman behind the success of Reginald Lewis, the first Afro-American to hit the US$1B-in-assets mark. In January 1993, Reginald died of brain cancer. So revered was Loida’s love for her late husband and “tutor” that she later wrote a book, entitled “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? How Reginald F. Lewis Created a Billion Dollar Business Empire.” It sold several hundred thousand copies.
Reginald’s untimely death left Loida with the responsibility of raising their two daughters alone and taking care of the family business. She finished her AB course at the Saint Theresa’s College and her law degree at the University of the Philippines.