Oscar M. Lopez, the 'Undaunted'

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - May 11, 2010 - 12:00am

What a way to mark one’s 80th birthday anniversary: watching a musicale chronicling the journey of one’s family through the pages of the country’s undulating political and social history. That was precisely what the Lopez Group chairman Oscar Moreno Lopez (OML) did - watching, three weeks ago, a two-hour production that traced, from his viewpoint, the fortunes and the genesis of the Lopez family. The family values of which OMI is proud to tell, were the life work of OML’s father, Eugenio “Ening” Lopez Sr., and which have been heralded as a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, business excellence, nationalism, team work, strong work ethic, integrity, social justice, and concern for employee welfare and wellness.

Volumes of the legendary Lopez Group story has been written by the historian Raul Rodrigo (Firebringer and Kapitan). The musicale “Undaunted” tells the story through the musicale genre. Directed and written by George de Jesus III, “Undaunted” put together some of the country’s best stage artists. OML was played by Audie Gemora; Connie Lopez, OML’s wife, was played by Mayen Bustamante-Cadd; Geny Lopez, by Jake Macapagal; Nitang Lopez, Stella Canete; Manolo Lopez, Joel Molina; Nanding Lopez, JC Goringa; Presy Lopez, Caisa Borromeo, and Ening Lopez, Reuben Uy.

In engaging songs and lyrics, the story chronicles the enterprising spirit of the patriarch Ening Lopez and his brother Nanding, with the former forming The Manila Chronicle, and the latter joining politics. The rise and expansion of ABS-CBN and Meralco follow. There are scenes showing the effects of martial law, the incarceration of OML’s brother Geny, the death of the patriarch, and challenges poised on the family.

OML is the third and current chairman of the Lopez Group, presiding over 120 companies and foundations including First Philippine Holdings Corp., Benpres Holdings Corp., ABS-CBN, First Gen, First Gas, Rockwell Land, Energy Development Corp. and SkyCable, among others.

George de Jesus relates that the musicale began in 2008 after OML watched “I Dream: A Musicale on the Life of Henry Sy Sr.,” which was staged as part of the 50th anniversary of SM. He found, while going through reference materials, a quote by patriarch Ening Lopez that guided his writing of “Undaunted,” and that is, “Material wealth should never enslave a man but a man should be its master to better serve his fellowmen.”

That principle of his father guides OML in his own life and business practice. “You will find in this stage presentation,” he says in the program brochure, “the values that keep us strong. For starters, we believe that our primary reason for being is to serve the Filipino people. Thus, not only are we committed to do no evil as Google’s stated objective puts it. One shall always do business in a manner that will result not just in the long-term mutual benefit of our businesses, but more importantly of the various publics and communities that we serve.”

OML himself studied his family’s story, and concluded that the story “is an unending one, as long as there are Lopezes that walk the face of the earth.”

OML says he is “quite sure the Lord isn’t quite done with me yet. He has blessed me with pretty good health, a mind that functions as well as anyone half my age. I still have the urge to slug it out with the best of them in the world of business. What’s more, I am thinking of becoming even more active in the affairs of this country . . . in how we are governed and in how issues of grave consequence to us are addressed. I feel, and with good justification, that I am built to last.”

I asked OML after the musicale if he would still have  bridges to climb, and he said, without batting an eyelash, “Yes, I want to climb the mountains of Mount Kinabalu.” One of these days, OML, who is really a sports buff, will do just that, and this climb will be worth another musicale project.

*      *      *

Yesterday morning, I voted at my precinct in a housing subdivision in Pasig. The process of filling out the ballot form and inserting it into the PCOS machine took about eight minutes. The machine responded with the words, “congratulations, your vote has been registered”. It felt good that I participated in the first automated election in this country.

 I voted for my choices for the top two positions in the land, my 12 senators, and the representative, mayor and vice-mayor and six councilors of Pasig City. I am certain that my ballot will be counted, along with the ballots of other voters. There were I believe less than a thousand voters in my precinct, so the process was quick and easy, with election monitors standing by to answer questions.

The partial results of yesterday’s election will be known in a few hours after this issue of The Philippine STAR hits the streets. As I wrote this column, I was also listening to reports over the government and private television and radio networks. There were good reports of peaceful and orderly voting in many precincts, of this election being the most peaceful. But there were reports, too, of people getting exasperated over standing in the hot sun for hours before they could even check their names in the voters’ lists, and so some simply left their lines and went home. In precincts with large numbers of voters, more than one PCOS machine should have been installed. There were reports of PCOS machines not working in far-flung areas, but the Comelec spokesman quickly replied that remedial measures were being made, the filling out of ballots will go through, and these will be inserted into the PCOS machines brought in by Comelec personnel. Another good development was that, the voting hours were being extended to another hour, i.e. up to 7 seven o’clock.

The voting will be over, the counting comes next. Then we shall have new sets of officials. Will our society undergo transformation? You and I know the answer: let’s wait and see, and pray for that change for the better.

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My e-mail:dominimt2000@yahoo.com

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