Gina Lopez, ABS-CBN Foundation Chairman, 1953-2019
ABS-CBN Foundation chairman Regina Paz Lopez has passed away today, August 19, ABS-CBN confirms.
"Gina was the pillar of strength that pushed AFI to achieve what seemed to be impossible. Her caring heart and selfless kind of love inspired people within and beyond the organization to help and serve others," ABS-CBN said in a statement posted on its website. "While we mourn with Gina’s family and loved ones, we also pray that her legacy continues to live on in the heart of every Kapamilya she had touched in her lifetime."
The former Department of National Resources (DENR) Secretary was the second child of the late ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio Lopez Jr. and Conchita La’O Taylor. She is survived by her two sons, her mother, and her five siblings.
At the time of her death, Lopez was battling cancer. In recent years, she had opened up to several news outlets that and openly talked about being diagnosed with breast cancer and finding healing through natural methods.
After completing her tertiary education in the United States, Lopez spent two decades residing in Portugal, India, and Africa, and working as a yoga missionary. She then returned to the Philippines to work for the family corporation, taking up the role of managing director of the ABS-CBN Foundation, and eventually founding the Bantay Bata 163 hotline. She also headed the award-winning Bantay Kalikasan project, which is known as ABS-CBN Foundation's environmental arm, and became the first Southeast Asian to win the UNESCO Kalinga Award for producing the educational television show Sineskwela. The ABS-CBN Foundation had recently celebrated its 30th year last July 30.
She was also a regular contributor for the Philippine Star and maintained a column called "From the Heart."
Lopez's environmental efforts did not go unnoticed by the government. In 2010, President Ninoy Aquino appointed her as the chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. Before that, she launched the Kapit-Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) project that helped around 2,000 families of informal settlers relocate from the river and its surrounding areas, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
In 2016, Lopez was appointed by then-newly minted President Rodrigo Duterte as secretary of the DENR. "Integrity, public service and common good" were the descriptors she attributed to being behind her decision-making process as environment secretary. During her run, she wasted no time in filtering through the country's mining contracts and canceling those in watershed areas. "You kill watershed, you kill life," she once said.
She served in its office from June 2016 to May 2017 and was succeeded by Roy Cimatu.
"My passion is to take care of the environment and address the poverty in the country," she wrote for the publication Rogue four years back. "Life is what you make of it. The experience of life is how you see it. You can see it negatively or you can see even the seeming failures as a positive opportunity to grow. If we take on this positive bent, everyone around benefits."