Russwin Francisco Niguidula
April 4, 1966, Manila, Philippines
Actor, Singer, Business Owner
Jazz, American Songbook, Spirituals
Russwin Francisco makes his debut as a film actor and producer with the 2020 release of The Girl Who Left Home, a Filipino-American musical feature. His theater credits include the Pharoah in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Lun Tha in The King and I, Simba in The Lion King, Bernardo in West Side Story, Harry Barker in Meet Me in St. Louis, Marryin' Sam in Li'L Abner, and Marley's Ghost in A Christmas Carol. On radio, he performed in a live broadcast dramatic series on DZRH, a well-known station in the Philippines. He sings with a jazz band at various venues in the Washington DC area.
Francisco began singing at an early age when his great aunt, a voice coach who founded the Philippine Concert Choir, taught him his first solo. He sang in school and church choirs as a boy soprano. He received formal instruction in piano and classical voice. Informed by an exceptionally musical family, he is adept at many genres of music ranging from sacred to doo wop. Other vocal coaching included madrigal and barbershop. For more than 21 years, he sang and styled songs with Nuance, an a cappella ensemble. He was a featured tenor soloist of the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington DC.
He also crafted short stories and poetry attaining public recognitions for declamatory and oratorical speech including a national award in extemporaneous storytelling from the Children's Museum and Library, Inc. He wrote and directed a play that won a national competition sponsored by the De La Salle University.
Francisco owns and operates Bite the Fruit, a popular boutique store located in Washington, DC. He co-owned Black Fox Lounge, a jazz venue which frequently received excellent industry reviews during its five-year run.
Born Russwin Francisco Niguidula on April 4, 1966, in Manila, Philippines, he is the second of four children to Tito Santiago Niguidula, an architect, and Perla Florendo Francisco, a restaurateur. He has two sisters, Lorraine and Yvette, and a brother, Lloyd. He moved with his mother and siblings to the United States settling in Arlington, Virginia, in 1982, where he attended Washington-Lee High School.
He enrolled at the George Washington University (GWU), Washington, DC, as a math major but would eventually opt for a business tract instead. After his sophomore year, he took off for 15 months, relocated to the west coast and earned a chef's certificate from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, St. Helena, California. He worked as a salad chef at The Palm on Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles. When he moved back east, he worked two summer stints as the sous chef at The Astral Plane in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
While he enjoyed haute cuisine, he left it to pursue a career in academia. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1989 from GWU and a Master of Science in Information Systems from Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia, in 1995. He worked at Marymount while earning his degrees, first as a Recorder, then as Assistant to the Registrar. After he received his master's, he was appointed Associate Registrar. He was an academic administrator for a decade.
At Marymount, Francisco lectured in information systems and business management. He also taught at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria, Virginia. He was a college professor for more than 15 years. At the same time, he served as chairman of the Registrars' Committee of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area where he coordinated collaborative projects among 12 colleges and universities. He conceived seminars and workshops in various topics including "Diversity in the Workplace," "Managers as Change Agents," "Integration of New Technology" and "Systems Approach to Training." In his final year as chair, he delivered the keynote at the annual conference attended by academics and administrators representing 22 institutions of higher education.
Francisco met Ralph W. Hoar, Jr., in 1987. Hoar established Ralph Hoar & Associates, LLC, which consulted on vehicle safety issues. By the mid-1990s, as the consultancy grew to become an advocacy that provided intelligence for litigation in the public interest for all manner of consumer products, Francisco divided his time between teaching college courses and managing operations for Hoar’s firm. Eventually, the latter required his full attention. As Chief Operations Officer and subsequently as Executive Director, Francisco implemented the firm's website, safetyforum.com, which attracted two million visitors a month—an exceptional feat during the Internet's infancy (pre-Amazon).
Allied with those who were severely or fatally injured as a result of negligence or avarice on the part of automobile manufacturers, the organization's unconventional approach to activism captured the public imagination. Plaintiff verdicts along with court-sanctioned restitutions proliferated. The firm's efforts led to a widely publicized Congressional inquiry and a new federal law that imposed, among other injunctions, criminal liability for top-level executives for decisions they make that cause harm and casualty.
Francisco and Hoar built a home in Arlington, Virginia, which they enjoyed along with their children, Jason and Adrienne, who lived with them two weekends a month, some holidays and in the summer.
In 2001, Hoar succumbed to complications associated with prostate cancer. Francisco helmed Hoar’s company through 2003. Hoar’s death prompted Francisco's interest in the intersection of spirituality and depth psychology which he pursued as his doctrinal thesis.
Francisco possesses a Ph.D. in Epistemological Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). His dissertation, published in 2006, "Individuation and Spirituality: A Cultural Exploration," draws from multiple disciplines encompassing analytical psychology, anthropology, ancient philosophy and religion. Scrutinized from the level of the collective and using teleological analysis, Francisco conceptualized individuation, a fundamental inner process of human development, to discern the socio-psychological profile of a culture. He was a graduate studies academic progress advisor for UCB from 2017 through 2020.
In 2003, he met William C. Scaggs, a civil rights program manager for the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. They held an intimate civil union ceremony in Duxbury, Vermont, in 2006.
From mid-2009 to the end of 2014, Francisco operated a jazz lounge in DC. Although it hosted weekly performances from jazz greats such as Butch Warren, and launched a handful of notable careers as neo-soul artist, Aaron Myers, and saxophonist, Herb Scott, the lounge did not weather the national economic recession. Anticipating the shutter of the lounge, in 2012, Francisco purchased a colleague's languishing retail store. After rebranding and some bold effort, the store's sales have consistently out-paced the nationwide average since he took it over. Moreover, through active involvement, the store is known for its support of community, especially of the LGBTQ.
Throughout his career as an academic, a consumer advocate and lately, a retailer, he maintained his perennial courtship with acting and singing. He successively took on singing and non-singing roles in community theater, jazz and cabaret gigs, and more recently, a cameo in a motion picture. Additionally, he is a patron and benefactor of the arts—funding modest yet exceptional ventures for their authentic, insightful perspectives.
A self-described epicure and an abstract painter, Francisco shares a home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with Scaggs and their rescued Chihuahua, Abigail. He is a newly minted grandfather to Morgan Faye, Adrienne's daughter.
"I will become brilliant, pure light. It is inevitable. What determines my brilliance is how much love I give. What determines my purity is how much love I receive." —Russwin Francisco