Oscar M. Lopez dies at 93
MANILA, Philippines – Oscar M. Lopez, power tycoon, social justice and environmental advocate, and patriarch of the Lopez Group that built and rebuilt conglomerate First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPHC), died on Saturday night.
He was 93.
FPHC’s “North Star” served as the company’s chairman emeritus for a decade until 2020. He took over command of the Lopez Group after the death of his older brother, Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr., in 1999.
“He was our North Star, the inspiration, and guide for succeeding generations of Lopez Group executives and employees who learned to treasure and practice with him the Group’s distinct core values: a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, business excellence, unity, nationalism, and social justice,” FPHC said in a statement.
Lopez, known as OML to his loved ones, employees and colleagues, is survived by his eight children, including current FPHC chairman and CEO Federico “Piki” R. Lopez, and his 27 grandchildren.
OML, who forms part of the second generation of Lopezes with brothers Geny and Manuel “Manolo” Lopez, began his legacy in his “miraculous” resurrection of FPHC–then First Holdings–in 1986 from its “completely demoralized” and near bankrupt condition.
OML has since then built and rebuilt FPHC by pioneering its expansion into power generation through First Gen, real estate through Rockwell Land, construction through First Balfour Inc., and other fields.
Back then, most of the Lopez Group’s businesses interests, such as media giant ABS-CBN Corp., broadsheet Manila Chronicle, and power distribution firm Meralco were shut down or taken over by Marcos and his cronies.
This, he said in his 2001 speech when he won the prestigious Management Man of the Year award conferred by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), was due to “the strong stand which my father and his newspaper, the Manila Chronicle, took against the graft and corruption of the Marcos regime.”
“But his conviction that businesses must look beyond just the bottom line and consider its impact on society and the environment was years ahead of his time and will be his enduring legacy,” FPHC said.
The businessman’s “lifelong love” for nature, science and the environment led to his founding of non-profit organization Oscar M. Lopez Center – Science for Climate Resilient Communities in 2012.
It was established as a response to the growing need for scientific knowledge generation in addressing the climate crisis and building resilient communities for Filipinos.
“It is our responsibility, each and every one of us, to protect our environment from further harm—and also to protect ourselves from the harm that we have already wrought upon our environment. For in abusing our environment, we have made ourselves vulnerable to the undesirable effects of that abuse,” Lopez was quoted as saying on the center’s website.
OML was also chairman emeritus of Lopez Holdings Corp., First Gen, and Energy Development Corp.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951 from Harvard University and was conferred the degrees of Doctor of Humanities honoris causa by De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University in 2010.
The second-generation Lopez finished his Masters in Public Administration at the Littauer School of Public Administration, also at Harvard, in 1955.