It had been a hectic week. My family, my executives and staff have prepared quite a number of events to celebrate my 80th birthday, which included a 3-day tour of Bohol island, a sumptuous dinner and musical show by and for the executives Lopez Group at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel Physically fit as I am, it seems that all that traveling, fancy food and late nights to mark this milestone are just about to take their toll. Turning 80 is an experience like no other. You seem to get this sense of being omniscient… of having seen all… of having been there… of having done all that. Perhaps I will climb one more mountain and there in the grandeur of the view from the summit, await those of you hardy enough to follow me to ask me: what is the meaning of life?
I must admit that I did enjoy and appreciate all the great things you have all said about me this past week. It gave me a feeling that the past 80 years had been most fulfilling. Such expressions of love and appreciation from the people who matter most to me are the best birthday presents anyone can receive on this special day.
The writing of this story started almost 40 years ago. Grappling with the devastation that martial law had inflicted on my family—all our assets taken away and my brother Geny imprisoned— I did what I could to keep the family finances afloat and to keep the Lopez spirit alive. Since no one ever did a history on the Lopez family, I decided to tackle this task. It took me about 6 years to do the research and write four volumes on the Lopez family history and genealogy dating back to the early 19th century.
I did this because I wanted to find in the past some clues to the true nature and character of my family, and to use these as my guide for the future. What I found out about my family became for me a lasting inspiration. The darkness of martial law aside, I took heart from the proven Lopez ability to come back from disaster. I saw how successive generations of Lopez entrepreneurs fought their way back from challenges as varied as the Philippine American War, the failure of the Iloilo textile industry in the 1860s, World War II, and subsequently, the martial law dictatorship. Like a phoenix, the Lopez family businesses were always reborn from the ashes. Amid the depths of the dictatorship, history gave me hope.
We are here tonight because I believe that we have a responsibility to search our past and draw inspiration from the great deeds and accomplishments of our fathers and forefathers. This is specially true in the area of business enterprise, so we can continue the Lopez tradition of building new and pioneering ventures that will benefit not just our families but our country and our people as well.
The decision to stage Undaunted was made last year to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the modern day Lopez business enterprises by my father and uncle. We wanted younger generations of Lopezes to discover their heritage and at the same time give life to the kapamilya spirit our companies often highlight for our employees. Before martial law when the companies were not as widely diverse as they are today, the kapamilya feeling was a lot stronger. Employees of Meralco, Manila Chronicle and ABS-CBN all felt like members of the extended Lopez family. We are hoping that through Undaunted, we can reignite that sentiment once more.
Undaunted is the story of how the modern day Lopez businesses were conceived, thrived, fell through hard times and thrived again. It is the story of how the vision of a pioneer Filipino industrialist created wealth not just for himself but for a nation and its people. It is the story of how one man who stubbornly believed in the world class qualities of the Filipino proved conventional wisdom wrong during our nation’s early struggles with the effects of colonialism on the business sector. It is the story of how a man risked all because of his convictions and his belief that the Filipino is entitled to good government and should live in freedom and prosperity.
While Undaunted is essentially directed to our internal audience of kapamilyas in the Lopez Group, it also has endearing messages for the nation at large. Through the dramatization of the struggles of the Lopez family, every Filipino can learn from and apply to their own lives and their businesses the Lopez Values – a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, nationalism, team work, strong work ethic, integrity, social justice, concern for employee welfare and wellness, and business excellence. We know from generations of experience that it is by living according to these values that we are able to have companies that prosper and overcome adversities because these companies are built to last.
Clearly, the story of our businesses is not just about the money… in fact, in many instances our businesses had higher reasons for being. The Manila Chronicle is a good example. It never made a centavo in profit but it fulfilled the reason for its existence which simply is… the public good.
It is my wish that tonight we are able to share our family secrets for surviving and flourishing from generation to generation. We hope the story will inspire you all as much as it had inspired me through all these years. As I said, Undaunted is not about me even if it is being staged tonight to celebrate my 80th birthday. Undaunted is about the human spirit that animates us all to greatness in our lives.
Sit back and relax and enjoy the show.