In commemoration of her third death anniversary
The lasting memory left behind by the ABS-CBN Foundation’s former Managing Director Regina “Gina” Paz Lopez is still felt within its ongoing advocacies. Long after her sudden passing on August 19, three years ago, the foundation remembers and celebrates her life through the “Gina is Love” campaign.
Whenever Gina Lopez is mentioned, several images come to mind: Gina as the Earth Warrior, the Philanthropist, and the Fighter. She is also often remembered as the person who helmed breakthrough projects such as Educational TV (ETV), Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig, and BayaNiJuan; as well as the foundation’s core programs, Bantay Bata, Bantay Kalikasan and Sagip Kapamilya.
Under Bantay Bata, she championed children’s rights and welfare through Hotline 163. With ETV or Educational TV, she produced educational programs to improve the functional literacy of students even in the most remote regions of our country. She also spearheaded a massive clean-up project in Pasig River and initiated the rehabilitation of the La Mesa Watershed. Gina also supported Palawan and other provinces against mining and kick-started eco-tourism in the country.
She was also notably known as a firm protector of the environment when she served as Secretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2016. During her period in office, she shut down 23 mines, canceled 75 mining contracts, and suspended operations for several others. In addition, she fiercely fought against the mining sector and industries that have negatively affected the country’s ecology.
In the two-week run of the Gina is Love campaign, the foundation’s employees and former colleagues shared their stories of “GL.” They recalled how they felt and witnessed an overflow of genuine love from the one and only Gina Lopez.
Josarie Cocoy, Ground’s and General Services Head of La Mesa Ecopark, first met Gina when she visited La Mesa Eco Park a day before its inauguration. He recounted how worried she was because the landscaping wasn’t finished. But unbeknownst to Gina and her team, Mr. Cocoy, together with another La Mesa employee, was able to complete the landscaping.
“Nagulat at natuwa po talaga si Ma’am Gina kasi gusto niya maging successful yung event,” Mr. Cocoy said. “Lagi kasi nya iniisip ang kapakanan ng ibang tao. Ang unang iniisip po niya, kailangan niya alagaan ang kalikasan dahil makaka-apekto ito sa atin. Dito lng po sa La Mesa, ang laking tulong na ang nagawa niya. Alam kasi niya na dito kumukuha ng inuming tubig ang karamihan ng nakatira dito sa Maynila. Kahit yung project nya sa ilog Pasig, gusto po niya ito malinis kasi gusto niya mabuhay ang mga isda doon para puwede mangisda at may makain ang mga nakatira sa paligid. At para na rin malanguyan ng mga bata at ma-enjoy nila ang pagiging bata sa paligid ng Ilog Pasig. Sobrang mahal po ni Ma’am Gina ang kalikasan kasi naiisip nya ang kapakanan ng mga kapwa niya.”
Former Bantay Bata TV Production Executive Producer, Ema Trinidad shared a personal story of how Gina Lopez thoughtfully gave a personalized and unexpected gift to show her appreciation.
“When she found out that I was still working late even when I was almost due to give birth to my child, she rewarded me by providing what I needed to raise my baby in the first year. I was deeply touched that she acknowledged me as an employee by rewarding me for all the hard work I did. She hired a nanny and supplied diapers for my newborn baby for a year! Which employer does that? She said that as we take care of others’ children in Bantay Bata, the foundation should also take care of its employees’ children as well.”
Danie Sedilla-Cruz, former Promo Specialist handling promotional campaigns for ABS-CBN Foundation, described Gina Lopez as a mother figure. She added that Gina proactively expressed genuine concern for everyone she met.
“Because she was in a position that could help, she chose to be the light in other people’s lives,” Ms. Cruz said. “She could have lived a quiet and comfortable life but instead chose to do everything that can cause an impact. She brought to life these advocacies – to the best of her capacity to where she can make a change.”
On ABS-CBN Foundation’s social media pages, people who knew her personally and those who admired her from afar also shared their affection for our beloved Gina.
“Ano man ang naging weakness ni Gina Lopez sa character nya. Hindi mapasubalian na isa siyang motivation leader, visionary, at a strategic leader who is in a hurry to put her vision into reality. Surely she is not perfect but her 3 major advocacies impacted people greatly – child care, IP concerns, and the environment.” – Leonora Hilarion
“You will forever be remembered, Ms. Gina. I saw and heard you twice, it was during my daughter and son’s graduation. You can never feel tired from listening to her and you can tell how she wanted to protect the environment and the people living near the mining sites. Rest in peace, Ms. Gina Lopez.” – Marylene Bravo
“Gina is Love. Our last Christmas with GL, sumali kami sa dance competition kalaban ang mga taga Corp. Comm. Sinamahan kami ni GL sumayaw kahit she just finished watching a movie with her kids. Beyond office hours and she still went out of her way to join us. Kahit hindi talaga siya sumasayaw, she still joined us and did her thing and had fun. I think that is love – making time to be with us and I love her for that.” – Porsche Rutaquio, ABS-CBN Foundation’s Post Production Supervisor
In the end, the character she showed everyone was the same. She didn’t look at their background or circumstances. She just chose to treat everyone fairly. She was a fiery individual with a passion for serving God, the common good, and the country. She gave her love not only to a few but to every single person she met. Her do-what-you-can-now attitude and relentless drive to help anyone in need are the memories we will keep close to our hearts. Gina is truly a definition of love.