Your Excellency, Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. it is my great pleasure to welcome you both to the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library which you have just visited and now to this the Board Room of the Lopez group of companies which has been around for the past 83 years. Around this room you will see pictures of our different businesses, ranging from power to manufacturing to mass media, property development. At the end of the room is a portrait of my father Eugenio Lopez, Sr. the founder of the Lopez group of companies and the right of us is a mural painting of a rustic theme by one of our contemporary painters, Jose Blanco.
Mr. Ambassador I hope you enjoyed the short visit to the Lopez Museum. The Museum was born out of my late father’s love and admiration of the accomplishments of Filipino artists and writers such as Juan Luna, Felix R. Hidalgo and Jose Rizal. My father also developed a fondness for early Filipino art and culture and this can be seen in the Museum’s collection of 14th and 15th century artifacts of porcelain, earthenware, beads and other such pieces excavated from sites all over the country.
We often facetiously say that Filipino culture is the mish mash of influences from 300 years of being stuck in a Spanish convent and 50 years singing and dancing to the beat of Hollywood culture. We often minimize the once glorious native culture already flourishing in these islands that had been cross pollinated with influences from China, India and Japan long before Magellan arrived on our shores. For indeed, our country's geography at the crossroads of the so called Far East has produced one of the most interesting, most colorful cultures that is almost instantly at home with any other culture that comes our way. Indeed, globalization was hard wired into our genes long before the word was coined, which probably explains why Filipino workers today are able to seamlessly adapt to their host countries in all corners of the world.
A Museum is however, not just a repository of art. It must be a living institution that plays a role in society. This is why the Museum has a vibrant education program that includes such offerings as workshops and thought-provoking public talks and roundtable discussions. Artists, curators and other cross-disciplinary experts participate in the Museum programs that interact with the public on various aspects of Philippine culture including the impact of new media and pop culture on the national psyche.
Perhaps, Mr. Ambassador, there are things we can do together by way of making it even easier for Philippine scholars to access records in the American Archives through the Museums facilities. In the next few years, hopefully by 2015, we intend to transfer the Museum to a much larger and more prominent location at the Rockwell Center in Makati City. The Museum will occupy a place of honor in the new Lopez Building which we are planning to build there to house our many corporate entities. We hope you will still be in Manila at that time to grace that occasion with your presence. In the meantime, we invite the Embassy’s staff to feel free in accessing the Museum’s resources in the conduct of their duties. We also invite you and your staff to participate in the Museum’s activities as a means of reaching out to local artists and scholars that make our country one of the most interesting countries Your Excellency will ever be assigned to.
At this point, I would like to invite everyone in this room to join me in a toast to his Excellency, Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. who is probably the most down to earth and approachable American Ambassador this country has ever had.