ObituaryTransition

A grandchild’s beautiful tribute to her ‘tata,’ Oscar Lopez

'We cannot enjoy what we cannot share with others'

Marianna and her grandfather Oscar Lopez have shared love of trees: 'In the towering canopies that envelope me, I’ll feel your love there' (Contributed photo)

At 82, he climbed Mount Kinabalu. (Contributed photo)

This was the eulogy delivered by Marianna Lopez Vargas at the funeral vigil of her grandfather, Oscar M. Lopez, the head of the Lopez conglomerate, a captain of Philippine business and industry, and patriarch of the Lopez clan who passed away April 19, 2023, at 93 years old.

Oscar Lopez on Mt. Makiling (Photo by Wig Tysmans)

Good evening, everyone. I am Marianna or Manna. The ninth grandchild and Cedie’s youngest.

Throughout the last few days, one thing we’ve heard said about my Tata constantly was, a life intensely anchored on values and his conviction in living out those values in all aspects of his life.

At the funeral vigil for his grandfather, Federico ‘Piki’ Lopez, chairman and CEO of First Philippine Holdings, sings the ‘Journey’. (Video by TheDiarist.ph)

Tonight, I’d like to share with you the unique privilege I had to realize his values on a daily basis through my work at the Oscar M. Lopez Center,  a  research foundation established to realize his vision of making the country more resilient to climate change. On the surface the foundation seemed like a manifestation of my Tata’s staunch environmental advocacy, but in my years working there, I came to discover it to be so much more. At its core, it stemmed from my Tata’s unwavering belief in social justice.

His belief in social justice was not a self-righteous one, but rather one of a genuine desire to take people out of harm’s way and narrow the gap between those with very little receiving even less and those with so much getting even more.

Oscar and Connie Lopez with children Cary, Cedie, Piki, Rina, Bea, Jay, Pia, Angela, and grandchildren

A few years ago the foundation was working on a project that sought to put shape into his belief in the interdependence of business environment and society. This project led to an afternoon of scouring hundreds of his speeches. Despite knowing him all my life, it was through those pages I learned so much more about my Tata and his convictions. Of all the quotes I came across, the one that stood out to me the most was:

“If I were to ask myself why I have woken up for the better part of 60 years and gone to work, and why I have been passionate about what I have been doing all that time, the last thing that would come to mind is profit. We do what we do for other reasons. It is an ideal of service and also my advocacies, among them my love of nature and the need to protect biodiversity. I believe there is a deeper motive that underlies our sense of humanity. We cannot enjoy what we cannot share with others.”

‘When you meet suffering, and you will meet suffering daily in this country, turn toward it and do something to change the world…’

But my Tata’s visionary tendencies did not come from arrogance or hubris, but rather from a place of empathy. In another speech he gave to the Lopez Group employees, he challenged them to not turn away from the suffering of Filipinos. He said, “When you meet suffering, and you will meet suffering daily in this country, turn toward it and do something to change the world…”

Something my Tata would always ask the foundation is, how many lives have we saved? When you are in the work of scientific research measuring and attributing, such impact is extremely difficult, and yet that seemed to be the only metric that truly mattered to him.

Oscar Lopez with his children on Mt. Kinabalu

It is truly difficult to put into words how much of my life is inspired by him. So tonight I’d like to say goodbye to my Tata through a few words that stem from our shared loved of trees.

I’ll see you in the rustling leaves that blow through the sweet breeze
In the triumphant air of peaks reached, big or small, I’ll feel you with me
I’ll see you in the blossoming of the bombax, I’ll know Nana is with you
I’ll see you in the gentle eyes of a loyal dog, but in those dog’s eyes, I’ll know Nana is NOT with you

I’ll remember your hands as they reached for mine in branches that spring life green
In the towering canopies that envelope me, I’ll feel your love there.
I’ll see you in the flutters of a butterfly and know Nana is with you
In the roots that give life and allow our Mother’s wonders to thrive, I’ll find you
In a garden where only love grows, I’ll feel you
When I see the beauty in what has been given, I’ll see you.

The captain of Philippine industry was, first and foremost, a family man. (Contributed photos)

Rockwell Land president Tong Padilla, in the eulogy for Oscar Lopez, recalls his first meeting with the Lopez brothers Geny, Oscar and Manolo, the defining and challenging years of Rockwell, and gives his heartfelt gratitude to the patriarch for always giving him and his employees ‘the chance.’ (Contributed photo)

Lawyer Eric Puno, son-in-law of Oscar Lopez, delivers eulogy at the funeral vigil of the patriarch. What matters is a good heart, he recalls his father-in-law’s advice that has survived a lifetime. (Contributed photo)


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