Saturday, February 20, 2016


In Auckland, New Zealand

by Roger Pe
February 21, 2016 issue
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Gabby Lopez likes teaching people to make them self-sustaining, responsible and involved citizens of the community. He is often ready to teach, even with little or no compensation at all.

By being a man for others, educator and an environmental planner, he has almost circumnavigated the world doing his calling. He always gave something in return, sharing his knowledge and experience back home, and to countries that hired him as a consultant.

Lopez does not regret being a former OFW. He, in fact, evolved into an author of a number of scholarly readings in urban planning and national security.

In Philippine Embassy, Washingto D.C.
Most recently, teachers and students of UP School of Urban and Regional Planning recognized his dissertation ("Integrating National Security into Philippine Regional Development Planning"), as well as his four other publications as useful sources. A student described them “important part of our national development.”

Meant to see to the world

On his senior year as a student council leader, he was one of Asia-Pacific students invited by the US State Department to gain invaluable experience in “Experiment in International Living” program.

There, he spent three months travelling to various cities: Honolulu, San Francisco, St. Louis, Knoxville, Washington DC, Brattleboro, New York City, Flagstaff and Los Angeles.

With Ambassador John Maisto and Hank Hendrickson, former President
and Minister-Counsellor/Executive Director of US-Philippine Society, respectively.

In St. Louis, Missouri, he visited campuses and met political, academic and community leaders. In Knoxville, Tennessee, he was so awed by how the US government worked on the Tennessee Valley Authority that he got interested in regional and urban planning when he came back to Manila.

Immediately after completing his AB Humanities in Ateneo (he boycotted his graduation with 20 others), Lopez was accepted by the UP Institute of Planning (now the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning) as its first scholar. He belonged to the third batch of graduate students.

On his first job as regional urban planner for the United Nations Development Program-supported Mindanao Regional Development Study Project, Lopez went around three regions in Mindanao at the height of MNLF rebellion.

He left the Philippines in 1983 and lived in Washington DC for six years. Here, he was hired as a senior management advisor for Coverdale Organization, a company started by the late Ralph Coverdale, an ex-Jesuit novice in Ateneo who served in the Royal Army and took organizational behaviour studies in Oxford University.

Lopez was developed to become a management consultant-trainer specializing in team building, leadership development and conflict-resolution. The job brought him to the United Kingdom, Aruba and selected USAID projects in Nigeria and Ecuador.

With a working visa, he got to serve in projects with the International Monetary Fund, US Peace Corps, the World Bank and USAID, as well as with some US Corporate Clients, notably, Ryland Homes, Glen Gery Brick, and the Aruba Hotel Association.

With UP School of Urban Planning students.
Occasionally, he would fly to London to work with British colleagues for British Telecom, Whitbread and local councils.

In May 1986, he was assigned to do management and leadership training programs through USAID Enterprise Program (worldwide) in Lagos, Nigeria. In October of the same year, he was assigned to do management programs for the Family Planning National Groups of Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina.

“Quito, Ecuador reminded me of Baguio because it was up there in the Andes,” he muses. His team was engaged by the late President Corazon Aquino immediately after her state visit in Washington, DC.

After that, Lopez flew in and out of London several times to work with his British colleagues, serving various Coverdale programs, which took a toll on his health.

In 1989 he flew to Oranjestad, Aruba three times to facilitate the strategic review and planning workshops of the Aruba Government and the Aruba Hotel Association - to transition from a predominantly oil-refining center (the largest in the Western Hemishpere, being only 8 nautical miles from oil-rich Venezuela) to a new tourist destination. He befriended the Prime Minister and his cabinet while in Aruba and was even offered residency.

As a teacher-volunteer in Loyola College in Culion.
Personal approach to profession

Lopez adheres to the Jesuit principle of Magis - striving to give the best on what you have been called to do in life, which he says, needs a lot of patience and humility.

He describes himself as “buhay na buhay sa pagtuturo” (teaches animatedly), simple, calm, compassionate, cheerful, someone who loves God, classical music and his country.

The words in Galatians 6:9 (“Let us not tire of doing good, for at the proper time (Tamang Panahon) we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”) and Saint Ignatius of Loyola inspire him: (“In everything love and serve the Lord, for His greater glory.)

Lopez’ profession has also took him to New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, India, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland.

As a senior adviser to former First Lady Loi Ejercito, Lopez was also included in official trips to Malaysia, Brunei and South Korea, APEC meetings in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Washington DC, New York, and during the beatification of Pedro Calungsod at the Vatican.

Thoughts on the Filipino diaspora

“Sadly, it is a reality most Filipino families face because economic opportunities are limited in our country,” Lopez says.

However, it is also good, according to him. “It has produced the Global Pinoy with his/her local characteristics. Now, we have Glocal Pinoys, who are globally responsive and updated, and still maintain their Filipino-ness wherever they are,” he adds.

Should Filipinos continue to leave the country and work overseas?

Lopez says if there are more opportunities, why not? He however, said that there should be programs to attract them back with good opportunities in the country, so that they can maintain healthy social ties with their families and friends.
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He would like to see the Philippines one day as a first world nation, globally respected and responsive, with all citizens enjoying good quality and comfortable modern life, living in peace and prosperity, preserving our culture of goodness and greatness.

When he came home, Lopez is most proud of, the ones that he has done unselfishly, all of them too many to mention.

“Am happy to have introduced and propagated the concept of servant leadership in the early 1990s wherever I taught, but most especially in National Defense College of the Philippines,” he says.

He co-initiated the propagation of the Development and Security Paradigm in the national security sector, particularly at AFP Command and General Staff College via Development Academy of the Philippines, as well as the Department of Health’s “Doctors to the Barrios” program.

Together with “Stop Hunger Now” and “Poor Foundation” teams, he partnered with corporations to distribute relief goods to disaster-stricken communities and do several medical missions to poor children in public hospitals in Quezon City and Manila annually.

Taken in 1989 at the Coverdale office during the baptism of Lopez's niece Cecilia. With sister Gigi (office secretary),
former mentors Norman Bramble and Alex Smallwood, Sandy Travis, Reid Melton and Susan Otero (office manager).

 Born in in Manila, 5th of 10 children of Engr. Justo N. Lopez, Sr. and Hidelisa Renee Jacinto, Lopez grew up in a family compound on Santol Street, Santa Mesa with siblings, cousins and maternal grandparents.

He went to elementary school at Ateneo de Manila in Loyola Heights together with his six brothers. He then entered Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary upon invitation of Cardinal Rufino Santos, staying for 2 years and spent a year of philosophy at Ateneo de Manila University but graduated with an AB Humanities and Communication Arts degree.

“I was involved in catechetical teaching as well as visiting poor communities. I was also politically challenged by the “oppressive system” so I became active in Ateneo History Club and campus activism of the late 60s and early 70s. I became a disciple of the late Ed Jopson,” he narrates.

He taught in Ateneo de Davao, Baltimore International Culinary Arts College, National Defense College of the Philippines, Philippine Air Force College, Philippine Army College, National Police College, AFP Command and General Staff College, Development Academy of the Philippines Graduate School of Management, Ateneo de Manila University Loyola Schools, John Gokongwei School of Management, School of Humanities, and Graduate School of Government.

He is currently the Dean of Graduate School of Management of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.