Fellow Executives and Staff-Members of the Lopez Group, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The theme of our 11th HR Summit is “Living The Lopez Legacy”. This morning, I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on the subject of legacy.
Dictionaries define the word “legacy” to mean something transmitted, handed down, received, or inherited from an ancestor or predecessor, or from the past.
In this context, I suppose it would be appropriate to say that the Lopez businesses are the legacy that we have inherited from our founders, my father, Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and his brother, Fernando. Some of our principal companies remain the very companies that they either established or acquired, for example, ABS-CBN and First Holdings. And yet, through the years, the composition of the Lopez businesses has also dramatically changed. Although we still own a small part of Meralco, we have ceased to hold a controlling interest where, once, we owned 100% and where once, Meralco was the centerpiece of our business. On the other hand, we now own controlling interests in such major businesses of more recent vintage as First Gen, EDC and Rockwell Land. Is it possible that at some point in the future, the businesses will have changedso much that they will cease to be recognizable as a legacy of their founders?
There are other ways by which we seek to more intimately carry on my father’s legacy and keep it alive. The principles and values by which we run our businesses and live our lives, which we have recently formally recognized in the Lopez Credo as The Lopez Values. The family and corporate biographies that we have caused to be written. We have, right at our doorstep, at the ground floor of our corporate headquarters, the physical legacy of my father and our family. As a nationalist, imbued with love of country and its history, my father built, collected and expanded until his very last days, the Lopez Museum and Library, which is now under the Eugenio Lopez Foundation.
What I would like to ask each and every one of you here, the HR officers of our group, is to help spread this spirit and value of nationalism of the Lopez family, by encouraging each and every one of our 12,000 employees, contractuals included, to visit and appreciate this treasure trove right in our Benpres building. I would love to see monthly group tours of Lopez employees from all of our companies nationwide, and even those who are based abroad, whenever they are here. I hope you will make this tour part of every employee’s, new and old, orientation as a Lopez citizen. We are one of the very few business conglomerates in the Philippines, and indeed, in Asia, with a strong arts, culture and historical orientation and collection. Let our employees experience and enjoy, first hand, our value of nationalism and the pride we take in being Filipino.
Incidentally, the original buildings that make up the Asian Institute of Management also carry the name of the Eugenio Lopez Foundation as their donor.
Ultimately, however, nothing that is merely physical can ensure a legacy’s survival, and that is what I find deficient in the definitions of the word “legacy”, that they somehow imply a limited shelf life. Think about it. A legacy is only a legacy for as long as somebody remembers what has been handed down. We know that time erodes most memories, so that within one or two generations, memories can be, and are often, forgotten. Even when memories are enshrined in history books or biographies, they tend to be consigned to shelves in libraries or archives where, after a while, they mainly collect dust. Worse, as we have found in regard to the history of our country, the memories are revised by those who write about them or who want to change them. Thus do memories, or legacies, disappear in the dustbin of history.
But there is one way by which a legacy can survive the test of time. This is when the inheritors breathe life into the legacy, so that they themselves become a living legacy, or rather, the living legacy.
Within the Lopez companies, we have, as I noted previously, sought to preserve the legacy that we have inherited from our founder in a number of different ways. I believe that we have largely been successful in preserving the legacy of my father, to the point that we now refer to it as “The Lopez Way”. But we could not have done it had we not conducted our businesses and lived our lives in accordance with the principles and tenets that he passed down to us. At times, this has been very difficult, because we have been forced to put our businesses at risk on matters of principle, just as my father had to put his businesses at risk on matters of principle.
The theme of this conference, “Living The Lopez Legacy”, exactly hits the mark in that the only way to preserve a legacy is to live it and to live it faithfully. By doing so, we ourselves become the living legacy. And, as I have mentioned often in the past, it is my dream that our businesses, our companies, will survive the next four hundred years, and beyond, as will the Lopez legacy.
I congratulate our HR Council for once again organizing our annual HR Summit and for putting together a most interesting program of discussions. Thank you and I hope all of you make the most of what we have in store for you today.