While ABS-CBN is arguably the biggest media network in the Philippines, and therefore primarily engaged in the business of entertainment, they also have a significant arm when it comes to public service. And the face of that charitable facet of ABS-CBN has been Gina Lopez, daughter and sister of two generations of the network’s chairmen. It was she who pioneered the groundbreaking Bantay Bata 163 along with other ABS-CBN-connected social welfare initiatives. Her work has led to her being appointed by two Presidents in state commissions or cabinet positions, and she did these later achievements with the specter of cancer. Sadly, her time has ended.
ABS-CBN News reports that Regina Paz La’O Lopez, better known to the company as “Madam Gina,” has passed way just this Monday, August 19, due to her brain cancer. Lopez, cousin of current ABS-CBN Chairman Mark Lopez and sister of chairman emeritus Gabby, succumbed to cancer-related multiple organ failure early morning. She was aged 65.
An official statement by the network called Gina a “pillar of strength” in her position as managing director of the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI), the asset that oversees programs like Bantay Bata and Bantay Kalikasan. Her selflessness and caring heart is described as enabling the AFI to do the impossible in its mandate to help and serve others. “We will never forget her and will continue to honor her remarkable contributions not only to ABS-CBN, but the entire nation,” concluded the statement, which thanked Gina for her exemplification of living “in service of the Filipino.”
Groups of environmental activists and government officials were similarly affected by the passing of Gina Lopez. A Presidential Office statement from Spokesperson Salvador Panelo called her legacy “unparalleled in environmental advocacy.” She also received tributes on social media from officials who worked with her as either the chair of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (under Benigno Aquino III) or interim DENR Secretary (under Rodrigo Duterte), though she was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.
“Knew her as a kid then as headstrong teenager,” remarked Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. on Twitter. “Fixing her mind on a cause…she never let up. I am proud to be part of the Cabinet of which she was all too briefly a part.” She also received accolades from activist group Bayan, which thanked her for trying her utmost to protect both the environment and “vulnerable” sectors of society.
ABS-CBN Chairman Mark Lopez similarly praised his late cousin’s accomplishments, saying she did everything she could out of love, which she believed was the strongest force of change in the world. The Lopez Family has announced that condolence gifts such as flowers and cards be changed instead to donations of any value to ABS-CBN Foundation.
Image courtesy of PEP PH