Profiles of Courage

Eugenio “Genny” M. Lopez, Jr.

A former Chairman Emeritus of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation and regarded as a Father of Philippine Broadcasting, Eugenio “Genny” M. Lopez, Jr. was born in Iloilo City, Iloilo on 4 November 1928 to parents Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and Pacita Moreno-Lopez.[1]

The Philippine press was known to be the freest in Asia before the declaration of Martial Law, albeit criticized for being under the control of the elite.[2] Geny’s family was among these prominent groups, which owned several large businesses and media assets. These included both the Manila Chronicle – then one of the largest newspapers in the country, and ABS-CBN – the largest television network.[3]

After finishing his masteral studies in the United States, Geny acquired the presidency over ABS-CBN from his father.[4] Lopez Sr. managed and expanded their family’s businesses, while Geny’s uncle Fernando Lopez helped develop their families close ties to Malacanang after becoming Vice President in 1949.[5] Tasked with running the media organization, Geny led the company to introduce colored television programming to the Philippines in 1966.[6]

Relations between the family and the Marcoses however turned sour two years after the 1969 elections.[7] The Lopez media network was used to expose Marcos’ corruption, inciting doubt in his capability as a President.[8] Meanwhile, Marcos began calling out the Lopez family as oligarchs who must be “crushed to pieces.”[9] The situation took an anticlimactic turn in May 1972 when Marcos visited the Lopez residence. Reports of a reconciliation between the two parties were made as the conflict had seemingly died down.[10]

Upon the declaration of Martial Law however, all of the Lopez family’s media holdings, including ABS-CBN, were sequestered.[11] Geny was among the first persons arrested by the regime – imprisoned for an alleged assassination attempt on the President. Behind bars, Geny was used by Marcos to threaten Eugenio Lopez Sr. into accepting a list of demands, surrendering control of his remaining assets, in exchange for Geny’s freedom.[12] His assets would be transferred to Kokoy Romualdez,[13] but despite doing so Marcos did not keep his word and maintained Geny’s imprisonment. Eugenio Lopez would die without ever seeing his son again.[14]

Two years into their arrest, Geny along with fellow detainee Sergio Osmena III staged a hunger strike in protest of the unjust harassment and detainment of thousands of Filipinos.[15] Three more years later, they both escaped from prison.[16] Roger Mangahas would write that they fled by a car in the night to an airport in Pangasinan, from which they flew to Hong Kong, then to the United States.[17]

Geny and other members of the Lopez family would live in exile in San Francisco until the 1986 EDSA revolution, becoming vocal critics of the regime overseas.[18] Geny would return from exile after Marcos’ ouster, as the family began recovering their business holdings.

The story of his and Osmena’s escape from prison was made into the 1995 movie Eskapo: The Serge Osmeña-Geny Lopez Story.

[1] Mangahas, Roger. “Eugenio M. Lopez”, Martial Law Files. Retrieved from https://martiallawfiles.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/eugenio-m-lopez/

[2] Rosenberg, David A. “Marcos and Martial Law in the Philippines.” Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979, 146.

[3] Francia, Beatriz Romualdez (1992). “Imelda: A story of the Philippines”. 3rd ed. Manila. 261, 265.

McCoy, Alfred W. “Rent-Seeking Families and the State: A History of the Lopez Family.” In An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994, 495-503.

[4] Enriquez, Marge. (16 July 2020), “How Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr. Founded and Grew the ABS-CBN Empire.”, Tattler Philippines. Retrieved from https://ph.asiatatler.com/society/eugenio-lopez-jr-the-empire-builder

[5] McCoy, “Rent-Seeking Families and the State.”, 490.

[6] Enriquez (2020)

[7] McCoy, 507.

[8] Francia (1992), 262.

[9] McCoy, 508

[10] Magno, Alex R. (1998). “Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People”. Vol. 9. Asia Publishing Co. 138.

[11] Francia (1992), 263.

[12] Ibid, 264.

Anastacio, Ellen Joy; Badiola, Janine Natalie (1 January, 2010). “The History of Philippine Television”. Thesis. UP-CMC Broadcast Department. Companion website available at https://pinoytvstory.wordpress.com/the-birth-of-philippine-television/

[13] McCoy, 512.

[14] Francia (1992), 265.

[15] Mangahas. “Eugenio M. Lopez”

[16] Brazil, Eric (2 July 1999). “Eugenio Lopez, Philippine mogul”. San Francisco Chronicle.

Francia (1992), 265.

[17] Mangahas. “Eugenio M. Lopez”

[18] Magno (1998), 140-141.

Photo of Eugenio Lopez Jr., Image originally from the Lopez Museum Archives, made available online in Enriquez, Marge. (16 July 2020), “How Eugenio "Geny'' Lopez Jr. Founded and Grew the ABS-CBN Empire.'' Tattler Philippines. https://ph.asiatatler.com/society/eugenio-lopez-jr-the-empire-builder

Lopez, Eugenio M., Jr.

Birthday: November 4, 1928

Date of Death: June 28, 1999

Parents: Eugenio Lopez, Sr. and Pacita Moreno-Lopez

Spouse: Conchita La’O

Children: 7 (Eugenio Gabriel “Gabby” Lopez III, Reina Paz Lopez, Maria Rosario Lopez, Rafael Kevin Lopez, Roberta Pilar Lopez, Ernesto Miguel Lopez and Ramon Javier Lopez)

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