Roby M. Lopez (seated, left) with his mother Doña Nitang and his brothers Manuel, Oscar and Geny and only sister PresyAt the Lopez Museum and Library going through photographs of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, trying to identify friends and family, and chatting in between about our memories of many years ago, Margot Fragante, Zeny Tañada and I go back to the ‘60s and the subject of how we remember Roby, who the Lopez family just honored with a mass and tribute on his 25th death anniversary a few weeks ago.
Roby was the youngest of the five children of Don Eñing and Doña Nitang. Margot says she knew him since he was a child, while Zeny and I met him during his preteen years. He was respectful to his older siblings, calling them Manong Geny, Manong Ka (Oscar), Manang (his only sister Presy) and Manong (Manolo).
He had a wholesale business in San Francisco called Sarimanok. He joined the twice-a-year San Francisco Gift Show at the SF Convention Center where he set up a booth and displayed products from the Philippines—Christmas ornaments (angels from wood shavings, corn husks and crocheted, wooden crèches), wooden trays, plates, etc. I would help him man the booth and get the orders. He would do the packing and shipping to fill the orders.
Roby finished his high school at the Benedictine-run Woodside Priory in Portola Valley, California; his Bachelor of Arts in History at the Santa Clara University in California in 1971; and his Master of Arts (European) from the Johns Hopkins School of Asian and International Studies in Maryland in 1973. He also took courses in Asian history and politics at the same school.
Roby’s dream was to become a diplomat, but martial law all but killed his dream.
He came home to the Philippines in 1986 and became involved in the art scene, buying paintings and other art items that all ended up at the Lopez Museum and Library. He was also responsible for initiating the publication of the coffee table books on Sanso, Manansala, Zobel, Amorsolo, Lee Aguinaldo and others written by Rod. Paras-Perez, among others.
He left as his legacy a trust fund for the restoration and conservation division of the Lopez Museum and Library, and the Phil-Asia Assistance Foundation Inc. or PAAFI.
The brothers with Don Eñing at Harvard University in June 1972