Uncle Oskie, Uncle Manolo, family & legacy

FROM THE HEART - Gina Lopez () - July 11, 2010 - 12:00am

I feel truly blessed to be born into my family — with its culture that resonates with values dear to my essence: integrity and public service.

This year my uncle, Lopez Group of Companies chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez, turned 80. This year, he also formally turned over the chairmanship of the Lopez Group to my other uncle — Manolo M. Lopez.

The Pasig River Project was the fortunate recipient of his birthday celebration: the planting of 80 endangered trees, the launching of the OML Elementary School, the Lopez Livelihood and Training Center, and The Chapel of Two Hearts — which was Rockwell Land’s gift to him. 

There was also a very beautiful musical presented, titled Undaunted. It actually charted my own family’s history. I was often told that my father, Geny Lopez, was the business man, while Tito Oskie was the academician, the historian. Undaunted was beautiful (though, of course, I’m a partial reviewer!). It centered on the struggle of the Lopez family during the Spanish era, a time when the family ran a newspaper called El Tiempo that spoke out against corruption. During the Japanese occupation, my father and uncles climbed the mountains while bombs were raining down and my aunt was so tired — but my uncle kept encouraging her to go on. The story was told of how during the Marcos dictatorship all our businesses were taken away, my father jailed — and my grandfather died overseas lonely and sad; how he did not see his children; and how his eldest was still in jail. It was inspiring to note that despite all the travails the family always rebounded — thus the name of the musical, Undaunted. No matter the difficulties, the values of family, honor, integrity — God and country always prevailed.

Sitting there in the audience during the musical, I reflected on the issue of legacy. At the end of the day, a legacy of courage and public service far outweighs any amount of money that is handed down. I was glad I had insisted that my sons watch the musical; it was something they could be proud of; it would strengthen what was good in them. I looked at my siblings, my cousins and their children — and the thousands of Lopez Group employees who attended the musical — and realized the impact a legacy of this nature could have on our current and future generations.

Legacy. It comes from the top — and has a spillover effect, trickling down all the way to the bottom. It cascades and becomes a part of life. I again came to realize the tremendous effect a well-led life can have on so many others. I look at my aunt, Tita Prescy, and admire her graciousness. She is such a lady. Her husband Tito Steve Psinakis has always been an example of courage and principle. He fearlessly fought the Marcos dictatorship. I look at my Uncle Manolo — his humor, his simplicity, his commitment to family, his generosity of spirit. And I look at my own siblings — my cousins — and I reflect and conclude this: My life is good. Very good. Family. Legacy. This makes life beautiful and meaningful. These are the building blocks on which a future can be built.

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