Born in Emmerton Lane, St. Michael on 28 June 1934; after attending Combermere School, Philemon travelled to the UK in 1956 to pursue a career in nursing. He qualified as a State Registered Nurse (SRN) and Registered Mental Nurse (RMN) and worked with the National Health Service until a career change to working with the Borough of Brent as the Principal Community Relations Officer and thereafter the Principal Race Relations Advisor. He studied Social Administration at the London School of Economics.
Philemon had a number of state appointments including Justice of Peace, Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee of Shenley Hospital and Brent Community Health Council. In addition, he was elected a Labour Councillor in Brent andserved as Chairman of Brent Labour Group. In 2009 he was awarded an MBE for public service in Brent.