Manolo Lopez, Former Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Has Died


Manolo Lopez, scion of the Lopez family and former chairman and CEO of Meralco, has died, his family announced on Thursday (January 12). He was 80 years old. 

Lopez, who also served as chairman of Rockwell Land, was the brother of former ABS-CBN chairman Geny Lopez and former Lopez Holdings Corp. (LHC) CEO Oscar Lopez.

Educated at Ateneo De Manila University, Baguio Military Institute, and Santa Clara University in San Francisco, California, Lopez worked with the country’s largest power distribution firm Meralco for 24 years (32 if you include the years his service with the company before Martial Law). In 2010, he relinquished his post as Meralco CEO to Manny Pangilinan.


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At Meralco, Lopez was known for establishing the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which helped bolster efforts to improve company performance and boost employee morale, as well as the Meralco Transformation Project, which put in place a number of initiatives designed to elevate the company to world-class status. He was also known for numerous Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs benefited the less privileged as well as espousing the virtue of malasakit, a distinctly Filipino trait which means care beyond the call of duty, within the company. 

After he stepped down from Meralco, he was appointed CEO of the family’s holding company LHC, taking over from his brother Oscar. He was set to enjoy his retirement years until he was appointed ambassador to Japan by former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino in 2011.


Critics have argued then that his appointment was politically motivated; a gesture of gratitude given the long and deep-seated relationship of the President Aquino’s own family with the Lopezes. In interviews, Lopez said he used this as fuel to prove himself to prove himself at the job and that he could make a difference. 

His tenure as the country’s top diplomate to Japan was marked by a focus on bringing in more Japanese investments in the Philippines and creating a more positive image of the country to encourage more Japanese tourists. He was awarded by then-Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida, the current Japanese Prime Minister, with a special citation, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, for his contributions to deepening relations between the Philippines and Japan.

Lopez is survived by his wife Maritess and three children.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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