February 16, 2008
Remarks of Oscar M. Lopez Chairman, Lopez Group Foundation, Inc. at the Ceremonial Signing of the Deed of Donation 9at the Lim Hall Lobby) and Groundbreaking Ceremony of Lopez Hall of Leaders at the Philippine Military Academy , Baguio City
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, PMA Superintendent General Leopoldo Maligalig, officers and staffs of the PMA, cadets, guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen: The Lopez Group of Companies of which I am the Chairman is proud to be a partner to the Philipppine Military Academy in its journey towards making the PMA the country's premier leadership school, that will be focused, relevant and responsive to the needs of the Armed Forces and the nation.
Hopefully through our donation of a multi-purpose hall, the Lopez Group is able to contribute to the fulfilment of the PMA Roadmap 2015. I must congratulate Gen. Maligalig for his positive role towards the development of this roadmap and for establishing links with us in the private and business sector so that we become a part of this noble endeavour.
I still recall the first time when I met General Maligalig here in PMA last September when I accompanied a group from the Asia Society who were honoured by a parade and subsequent meetings with his staff when this idea of a donation of a multi-purpose hall came about.
Several factors made this donation ideal for us in the Lopez Group. First of all, there is a question of the emotional and historical ties of the Lopez Family with Baguio. In 1915, after Baguio City was established and the Kenon road newly completed, my grandmother and her family, including my father, would have their long summer vacations here. In otherwords, during that period my father fell in love with Baguio. In 1935, my father was sufficiently aware of the increasing economic importance of Baguio to allow him to make a substantial investment in the form of a combination apartment and commercial story complex called the Lopez Building right in the middle of Session road. From June 1939 until the outbreak of WW II, my brother Geny and I studied at the Maryknoll co-educational grade school here in Baguio until that fateful day of Dec 8, 1941 when we saw with our own eyes bombs falling from the sky on Camp John Hay from a squadron of Japanese bombers. We were then living on South Drive, just a kilometre away from Camp John Hay. Although we left Baguio that same day to rejoin the rest of the family in Iloilo, By March 1943, my father brought the family back to Baguio where we stayed for the next 2 years until the end of the War. When the American bombings pounded Baguio from the air and long range artillery on land from January to April 1945, some fifty of us in the family were here in Baguio, staying in the Lopez Building until the bombing became so intense we had to move to Irisan, about 7 kilometers outside Baguio, and finally on April 7, we hiked our way for 2 nights and 3 days down to the American lines in Tubao, La Union.
About 3 years ago, I decided to renew my ties with Baguio by buying or actually leasing land in Camp John Hay where I built my log cabin. This is where I renew myself both physically and emotionally twice a month.
But the more important reason for our donation is because this year the Lopez group of Companies is celebrating its 80th anniversary as an entity started in 1928 by 2 Lopez brothers, my father, Eugenio and his younger brother Fernando, who vowed on a new way of doing business very different from what the bigger Lopez Clan was used to doing in the past 80 years. Their new businesses would no longer depend on land as its principal asset nor on a single product, sugar, for its livelihood. They went into newspaper publication and land, sea, and air transportation, establishing in 1932 the very first Asian Airline. But all these companies were destroyed in the War. In the early postwar years, my father decided to resume his entrepreneurial career in Manila no longer in Iloilo, while my uncle branched out into politics starting as Iloilo City mayor then becoming senator for 3 terms and as Vice-President for another 3 terms.
My father's post-war businesses started out with an airline, Far East Air Transport Inc or FEATI that was sold a few years later to PAL, then a newspaper the Manila Chronicle, a Bank (PCIB), followed by radio and television (ABS-CBN), then Meralco, which itself spawned a number of subsidiary businesses, such as, an oil pipeline company (FPIC) , a transformer manufacturing company ( PHILEC), and a construction company (today known as First Balfour). The tollroad, telecommunication, cable tv, power generation, and the commercial and industrical land businesses became the newest additions to the group in the 1990s compliments of the second generation Lopezes which include Geny, Manolo, and I. We feel that all this new businesses will help improve the quality of life for our people and advance the status of our development as a nation.
Although our 80th anniversary will be a year long celebration it will peak on June 12th to commemorate the exact date in 1928 when the two Lopez brothers signed their joint partnership agreement.
I would like all of you to know that the PMA Lopez Hall of Leaders is definitely part of our 80th year celebrations since it will be finished before the end of the year. It also represents the biggest single Corporate Social Responsibility project of the Lopez group since my father made his donation of the main building of the Asian Institute of Management some 40 years ago. Somehow our biggest contributions to the community and the nation has always been in the field of education. We like it this way.
I have with me today my co-employees from the Lopez Group joining in laying the groundwork for the Lopez Hall of Leaders as demonstration of our support as you in PMA strive to epitomize the finest traditions of the service.
The PMA Committee in charge of the project headed by PMA Superintendent General Maligalig provided approximately 1,603 square meters of the site where the Lorenzo Hall currently is located. The multipurpose Lopez Hall of Leaders has a 660 square meters Main Hall with a 600 seating capacity. The Lopez Group's Rockwell Land Corporation Architects prepared the concept and schematic design, represented here today by its President and CEO Nestor Padilla and accompanied by his charming wife Nancy, as well as the Rockwell architects, Gabriel Paulino and Rochelle Baylon. While our affiliate, First Balfour Inc, will undertake the detailed engineering design and construction represented here today by Dr. Fiorello Estuar, Anthony Fernandez, Albert Ignacio, and Danilo Escarlan. Some of the big Lopez company donors are also here with us today. ABS-CBN is represented by Jake Almeda- Lopez, Charo Santos, and Vivian Tin and by top newscaster Ces Drillon. First Gen is represented here by Peter D. Garrucho, Manila North Tollways Corporation is represented here by its president Jose Ping De Jesus and Raffy Alunan. And finally, First Philippine Holdings Corporation, represented here by its president Elpidio Ibanez, Dr. Arthur deGuia, and Jay Lopez.
We hope that The Lopez Hall of Leaders will be turned over to the PMA by November this year.
Finally, we realize the challenges facing our nation are large. Economic, social, environmental inequalities abound and are increasing. The Lopez Group through all these years has aimed to influence a better situation for the existing and future generations. The PMA as your roadmap has indicated has set its directions to taking on a pivotal role in developing the present and future leaders who pass our Hall.
Let us, therefore join forces, we from the Lopez Group and you from the PMA to keep our commitment to be a force for doing good for our country.
Thank you and a very pleasant and good morning to you all.