— Oscar M. Lopez
Chairman, Lopez Group Foundation, Inc.
Historically, the Lopez family has always practiced the concept of private business reaching out to their communities, and to the nation in general, not only in times of calamities but as regular and customary behavior. It is behavior they have accepted as the norm rather than an idiosyncrasy.
Today's Lopezes can trace their roots to one Basilio Lopez,a Filipino-Chinese mestizo and one of those early entrepreneurs who made the Jaro-Molo area of Iloilo Province one of the most dynamic and prosperous communities in the country in the mid-1800s. He was the cabeza de barangay, the district leader and tax collector for 20 years, and in 1850, was elected gobernadorcillo or mayor of Jaro.
The first Eugenio. Kapitan Eugenio J. Lopez
and Marcela Villanueva Lopez.
One of Basilio and Sabina Jalondoni-Lopez's 16 children, 10 of whom reached adulthood, was the first Eugenio Lopez, their eldest son, whose entrepreneurial ability was well-known. He had the first steam-powered sugar mill in Negros at a time when sugar prices were soaring in the world market. He also accumulated thousands of hectares, mostly in the virgin lands of Negros, which he and his eldest children operated or leased to other planters or sold at a profit.
When a province-wide famine struck Iloilo in the 1870s due to drought, locust infestation, and the dislocations caused by the shift from rice to sugar as the dominant agricultural produce, Eugenio and brother, Claudio, organized a Lopez family relief operation, distributing rice and money to the countless families who flocked to the Lopez homes for help. Eugenio even had to sell an hacienda to help hundreds of people, many of whose children and other family members were dying from hunger and sickness.
Oscar Lopez dialogues with a family at the
Paliparan resettlement in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
During the height of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II, Iloilo experienced a severe food shortage, as foreign troops were commandeering most of the food supply. Ramon, another son of Eugenio, began to push a cart through the city streets, distributing rice and fish. His niece lent him a hand. She sold some of her diamond jewelry to help raise funds for the relief effort. From the proceeds, they were able to feed hundreds of starving children every day.
This balance between the two sides of Eugenio and his family - big-time entrepreneur accumulating wealth and land on one hand, and public leader with a strong sense of social responsibility and the public good on the other-is a trait that would appear and reappear in the future generations of Lopezes.
From philanthropy, the Lopezes and their companies are now a leader in the Philippines when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, showing significant focus in poverty alleviation, education, environment, and health - aligned with the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs).