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Unfolding Half A Century: Eugenio López, Sr.: Patriot & Patron of Culture

Eugenio H. López, Sr. inaugurated the Lopez Memorial Museum in 1960, he was fifty eight years old and in what many thought was his prime as a scion of Philippine business. His portfolio had outgrown hometown success in Iloilo. National in scope it included banking, broadcasting, journalism, and sugar. He was a pioneer with the competitive spirit to match. Into his senior years, he started office by 7:30 a.m., having breakfasted at 4:00 a.m.

As Filipinos increased their stake in American held enterprise, Eñing purchased Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) in 1962. It was a business coup. By 1967, he also headed ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, the county’s largest electronic mass media company. When Martial Law forcibly closed his business empire in 1972, he had diversified into communications, manufacturing, computers, and cable T V.

He and younger brother Fernando (a three-term Philippine vice-president) grew their inheritance well. They were orphaned and their mother, Presentacion Hofileña, was widowed when a political opponent shot their father, Benito López, then Governor of Iloilo. Eñing was six years old. Politically entrenched since the 1830s, the Lopezes were steeped in the responsibilities of leadership and wealth that included family traditions of charity and emergency relief. Eñing graduated from Ateneo, University of the Philippines (law), and Harvard.

Art patron Alfonso Ongpin inspired him to become the greatest collector of Filipiniana books, maps, and art. He enjoyed the global hunt. But his collection outgrew the office vault and even his enjoyment of possession. His new passion was sharing these finds to inspire his timeless appreciation of Philippine culture.

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