Mythic creatures: Eugenio “Ening” Lopez Sr.

By the late 1960s, there was no Filipino more powerful, more famous, more elegant and stylish, needless to say more $$$ loaded, than Eugenio Lopez Sr..  If you had asked most Manilans at that time who the richest man in the Philippines was, they would have answered:  “DON Eugenio Lopez,” “Don ‘Ening’ Lopez,” “Mr. Eugenio Lopez Sr.”, or simply “Mr. Lopez.”  It wasn’t as if fellow multimillionaires Vicente Madrigal and Andres Soriano Jr. were also very very rich, but Eugenio Lopez Sr. embodied Mr. Big Bucks to the Filipino Everyman with his sheer wealth and cosmopolitan jetsetting style.

Eugenio Lopez y Hofilena [ Sr. ] was born at a crucial time when the sugar fortunes of the entrepreneurial Lopez family of Iloilo were expanding in all directions.  His parents were Benito Lopez y Villanueva of Jaro and Presentacion Hofilena y Javelona of Guimaras island.  His father Benito was inclined to politics, but several of the latter’s fifteen siblings like Maria “Bibing,” Eusebio “Sebio,” Rosario “Sayong,” Vicente “Cente,” and Paz engaged themselves fully in the sugar planting, milling, and trading businesses;  often they acted as bankers to one another.  In addition, they were proud of their various business ventures and constantly encouraged their children, nephews, and nieces to be entrepreneurs, loudly praising the active and successful ones to all and sundry and driving the slower ones to eventual achievements.  Banking one another was a practice handed down from the generation of their parents, Eugenio Lopez y Jalandoni and Marcela Villanueva y Felipe.  The first Eugenio and his fifteen siblings Clara, Eulogia, Marcelo, et. al. — already noted businessmen in their day — supported each other’s business ventures by lending substantial sums to one another.  Thus was the Lopez family culture of entrepreneurship and competition in which the young Ening grew up, which was later enhanced by his education at Harvard University.



  1. Enrique Bustos said,

    January 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I forgot to Add Don Eugenio Lopez Love for cutting edge architecture Meralco Building in Ortigas and Boat House in Iloilo

  2. Josie Sarmiento Araneta said,

    January 18, 2011 at 5:15 am

    …reading some of what has been written about Eugenio Lopez makes me think of him as a ” man for all seasons”. I’m not given to cliche, but be seemed to fit the description.
    There are very few men of such character, bigger than life, so to speak, who lived their life as full, and as meaningful. I hope that his progenies carry on with what he has started, improve on them, be a credit to his good name and their heritage.

  3. December 30, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    My maternal grandmother Dona Carmen de Santos Pineda was the first cousin of Dona Nitang Moreno Lopez, who in turn was the godmother of my mother Rosemarie. I remember every Christmas time all the Morenos, de Leons, Barcelonas, Pinedas branches of Lola Nitang would converge on SAID Antipolo Lopez house for a grand fiesta lunch followed by the raffling of very large caches of CASH, where even the maids and drivers could win the jackpot prize of P10,000 pesos. There was a bowling alley, a big swimming pool where I always held beauty pageants or mock fashion shows with my 7 sisters and numerous captive cousins. I remember meeting cousin Gabby Lopez in his teens who I thought was so cool with his long hair and wearing a Baguio poncho. I am related to Tillie Moreno, Alicia Alonzo.Raul and Randy Francisco, Pochola de la Cruz who was a deadringer for Gina Lolabrigida, the Garchitorenas, Galangs, Reyeses, who were mere todlers then. It was alifetime away but oh such good golden memories.

  4. Presy Guevara said,

    December 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for that piece of first hand info, Myles. As I head on away from home for a few days with uncertain access to the internet, I wish you ALL a Wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Kenny Rogers, in his Christmas concert at Strathmore Music Center last Sunday, told the audience not to lose Christmas despite the strong influence of political correctness. Let that message be my gift to all of you during this season of love, hope and peace.

  5. Myles Garcia said,

    December 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Presy, I DOUBT that that certain someone had to “learn her shopping ways” from anyone. Shopping, regardlesss of your status in life, is an inborn, innate compulsion. And the thing is…if you have a bottomless purse, then heaven’s the limit. I always believe she went by the mantra: it’s NOT her money, so why should she care if it flowed like water? And she was always shopping “for the people” since she was a self-assigned STAR for “her people.” (Rolls eyes.) I really hope this and the next generations of Filipinos will NOT put up with ridiculous sh*t like that anymore. It happened because aside from society being muzzled; even those who knew better allowed it to continue.

    Additional anecdote re the CCP v. Meralco’s theatre. We had some guests from Washington DC a few weeks before the CCP was to be inaugurated in September 1969. While taking them around Manila, we were also curious to see what the CCP looked like shortly before it was going to be unveiled. So we ventured over and tried to see if we could get in. For some reason, the doors were open and the lights were on. So we got in, but very shortly thereafter, some limos pulled up onto the porte cochere. Well, guess who came after us. Well, the presidential party because the President & Madame likewise had American guests of their own (a certain Dr. and Mrs. Fox) and they were only too willing to show off her latest accomplishment.

    Of course, security then wasn’t all that paranoid as it is these days, so we tagged right along the VIP-guided tour, after all, we had our own “Kano” guests, so we somehow fitted right in. Anyway, apparently, it was also Macoy’s first visit to the edifice since it was built. It was all shiny and gleaming so it certainly seemed like the right time for IRM to show it to hubby. I remember her giving her commentary with real pride..and when they got to the lighting/control room, Imelda said: That is the best lighting equipment in the world that money could buy!!

    FM retorted: Even better than that new theatre by the Pasig? (Of course, referring to the Meralco theatre).

    Her reply: Oh, far better, honey!! (Teddy Hilado was there that moment.)

    So anyway, it just brings back memories of the early areas of friction between the two mighty clans and the repercussions it would have on Philippine society and history in the next generation or two. It’s just too bad the Lopezes didn’t have the allies and the might then to subdue the parvenus.

  6. Myles Garcia said,

    December 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I thought Don Yning’s favorite NYC hostelry was the Pierre where I know he would take a whole floor (if available) for him and his retinue. But maybe this is when rooms were not available at the Waldorf (which was Madame’s 2nd favorite hang-out after the Carlyle).

    Re the opening of the Meralco Theatre, I thought sporano Monserrat Caballe opened there (but I could be wrong). And of course, it just occurred to me on reading Enrique’s post that building a NEW performing arts hall was another sore point of competition between the Marcoses and the Lopezes. While Don Yning built his Meralco theatre (seating 1,000) with private money, IRM built her own Cultural Center (seating 1,900) with donations and public monies. I imagine this episode really upped the ante of oneupmanship between the two clans then.

  7. Presy Guevara said,

    December 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    From Enrique’s post, it is ironic that someone “learned her shopping ways from Don Eugenio Lopez” and yet it seems she has failed to absorb his message that “if you want to make money give it away”. I can foresee further treads on this matter.

  8. December 20, 2010 at 10:48 am


    Fantastic!!! Thank you for that one!!!

    Holiday cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez 🙂

  9. Enrique Bustos said,

    December 20, 2010 at 10:22 am

    The old saying of Don Eugenio Lopez is if you want to make money give it away Don Eugenio Lopez was a very generous man he sent some of his top managers like Antonio Ayala to Harvard business school to deepen their business skills Don Eugenio wanted all his employees should be as capable as the best in the world and hence should be readily absorb the best the world as to offer not just in terms of international management practices but its culture and cuisine as well he would treat them to Opera’s in Milan,Theater at London’s west end and art museum in Rome and Paris he established the Lighthouse Restaurant at the top of the Meralco building a first class invitation only restaurant it employed foreign chefs to offer the best Chinese Japanese and European Cuisine he hired chefs from the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong Otani Prince Hotel in Japan and Maxim’s in Paris,Inside the Meralco building he wanted a modern theater for the Performing Arts for the Filipinos to see worldclass performances during its inauguration he invited the famous Russian Bolshoi Ballet to perform in the Meralco Theater for five days when Don Eugenio Lopez said the best he meant only the best the world has to offer, he is world class traveler and always traveled in style complete with a routine of executives relatives friends and personal physicians even a chef and a driver he would always stay at the best places and hotels his favorite is the Waldorf Astoria in New York where the Presidential Suite is always reserve for him and his party he is know to everyone who traveled with him as a generous tipper Don Eugenio enjoyed shopping abroad but much of the things he would buy are for Pasalubongs for his employees,friends and relatives he shopped only at top class department stores for these pasalubongs sales ladies would always be taken by surprise and awe at the way he buys he would point to a merchandise and ask the sales lady if it look nice and without asking for how much would buy several dozens of the item and he would always pay in cash it was said that Imelda Marcos learned her shopping ways from Don Eugenio Lopez
    because when Imelda Marcos became First Lady in 1966 she was introduced by Don Eugenio Lopez to the Magnin family a friend of Don Eugenio The Magnin Family owns the Magnin Department Store in San Francisco California

    Don Eugenio Lopez build the J.F.Cotton Hospital the in-house hospital of Meralco it was staffed with topflight doctors and nurses equipped with the most advanced medical technology at that time he build a recreation center for his employees the center has a bowling alleys basketball courts volleyball and badminton courts he created a Retirement and Benefit package second to none in the country during that time he formed a Meralco Basketball team that joined the Manila Industrial Commercial Athletic Assocition with some of the Best Basketball Players during that time like Robert Jaworski,Bigboy Reynoso Mon Fernandez and Tembong Melencio the primary audience of the team are the Employees of Meralco he wanted to built the Meralco esprit de corps he also sponsored several chess tournaments and invited foreign grandmasters like bobby fischer Svetozar Gligoric and Kiril Gheorgieu he employed four out of five grandmasters of chess in the Philippines in Meralco Rene Naranja, Ruben & Romeo Rodriquez and Rosendo Balinas

    He donated the funds for the construction of the Rizal Library and a T.V. Studio one of the most modern at that time for his Alma Mater Ateneo de Manila he donated money for the University of the Philippines Scholarship Program and endowed fund to Harvard Business School for a faculty chair for the Study of Asian Management and donated money of the construction of Asia’s first business School the Asian Institute of Management one of his biggest Philanthropic Acts is the Creation of the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library he donated 211 works of Filipino Masters Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo and thousands of Filipiniana Books dating to the 16th century Don Eugenio Lopez is at his most extravagant when he buys his books abroad he would pay just about any price for the book that he likes bookstore owners are in awe even decades after his buying sprees he buys hundreds of volumes of Filipiniana books in a single trip he goes to this bookstores every year for his annual book hunt

    Don Eugenio Lopez also invested in properties abroad he has a home in Seacliff Avenue in San Francisco overlooking the Goldengate Bridge the Seacliff area is bounded by the Goldengate National Recreation Park and the Presidio and Baker beach he maintained an office at the 47th floor of Trans America Tower a famous landmark in San Francisco his office was near the very top and is only accessible to a special elevator he has also an Apartment in the Ginza district in Tokyo Japan

    One of his last gift for his wife Dona Nitang Lopez is a house in the highest peak of Antipolo he got architect Gabriel Formoso to design their retirement house he also asked Lor Calma to travel with him to Europe buy furnishing for his new house the group went to Russia to buy Malachite bathroom fixtures he bought stained glass for the Chapel, Baccarat Crystals.Don Eugenio ask Gabriel Formoso to add a helipad in this new house because he planned to travel by chopper back and forth at his office in Meralco but because of Martial Law Don Eugenio was not able to complete his new house in Antipolo his children would be the ones to finish it after 25 years

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: