Story of Lopez dynasty told in sparkling musicale
SUNDRY STROKES - Rosalinda L. Orosa () - April 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Presumably, mounting onstage the story of a family dynasty primarily engaged in business would be dull and tedious — replete with flashbacks of speeches, business meetings and conferences. The musicale “Undaunted”, which focused on Eugenio H. Lopez, his sons Eugenio, Jr. (Geny) and Oscar (“Oskie”), Eugenio’s brother Fernando, and secondarily, on other family members and forbears, was far from dull and tedious.

Eloquently and concisely scripted by George de Jesus III, who also directed the show and wrote the lyrics for the engaging music and songs of Roy del Valle, “Undaunted” sparkled, compelling close audience attention from start to finish.

Prior to the opening of the figurative curtains, Oscar, who was marking his 80th birthday and in whose honor the musicale was being presented, gave a few remarks. What struck me most was his announcement that he could be climbing another mountain. Because he had recently climbed Mt. Kanlaon, the metaphor pointed up a singular characteristic of the Lopez clan: Oscar, even at his age, was ready to face again (and again) other daunting challenges, risks or adventures, having endlessly triumphed over devastating trials and tribulations with unwavering, invincible will.

Consistently conveyed by both dialogue and lyrics were the principles to which the Lopezes steadfastly adhered, and which Oscar himself voiced: a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, business excellence, nationalism, team work, strong work ethic, integrity, social justice, concern for employee welfare and wellness.”

Oscar added: “It is by living according to these values that a company will be built to last.”

Portraying Oscar was one of my favorite actors, the vastly talented Audie Gemora who also served as narrator. The rest of the excellent, versatile cast, who also sang and danced, were Mayen Cadd (Connie), Jake Macapagal (Geny), Reuben Uy (Eñing), JC Continga (Nanding), Stella Cañete (Nitang), Caisa Bernardo (Presy), Joel Molina (Manolo).

Actually, the musicale is the saga not only of the Lopez clan but also of the nation which witnessed the rise and fall of democracy, World War II, the Japanese Occupation, Martial Law, People Power and what followed thereafter. A deeply poignant scene shows Geny — imprisoned by Marcos for five years — collapsing on the lap of Oscar who is paying him a visit. (Don Eugenio died without seeing Geny freed.)

The riveting crowd scenes, with the players in colorful costumes by Ryan Ong, the charming stylized dances choreographed by Erwin Flores, and performed with grace, élan and zest on a functional setting by Mio Infante, ignited the stage. “Undaunted” was a creative, imaginative and innovative interweaving of dialogue, action, singing and dancing which never lost the thread of the inspiring values and inherent message relayed by the Lopez dynasty.

This reviewer enjoyed an added dimension not fully perceived by most members of the audience. Personal as my experience was during my years with the Manila Chronicle, my detailing it here will render the work ethic of the Lopezes even more persuasive, a work ethic which Don Eugenio articulated thus: “Human values are above and far superior to material values . . . our success should be measured not by the wealth we can accumulate but by the amount of happiness we can spread to our employees.”

My publishers were genuinely glad about my year-long fellowships in Radcliffe College, Harvard U., and in the University of Mexico. Before my parents sent me on a month-long vacation to Europe, Geny enthusiastically approved of it because he surmised that my visits to art museums and attendance at performing arts concerts would widen my background as reviewer and cultural columnist, and thus serve the Chronicle even better. I would always be heartily welcomed back after my long absences like a prodigal daughter. Would other employers have granted me such latitude?

Thus “Undaunted”, which received lusty applause, infused for me deeper meaning into the values to which the Lopezes subscribe(d).

A moving tableau ending the musicale consisted of Oscar’s entire family, including the littlest grandchildren, the sight stressing the Lopez tenet that in family union there is strength: Mind you, there will always be a Lopez climbing the most forbidding mountain and fighting the most crucial battles!

Honoring the occasion by their presence were tycoons Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Joe and Ronnie Concepcion, former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, ceramics expert Rita Tan among many other VIPs.

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