The social worker is also a dog loverAlisa Lopez delos Reyes, who will turn 28 this November, is the daughter of Berta Lopez Feliciano. Berta is the fifth child of the late Geny Lopez. Alisa went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, majoring in psychology. She later go thermaster’s degree in social work at the University of Chicago.
How long have you been living abroad? Can you describe your life there?
I have been living abroad for nine years—four years in Portland and five years in Chicago. It can get lonely, but I have also made really great friends and have done a lot of growing being away from home. I have become a much more humble, nice and independent person— I think most people that know me would agree.
I have worked or been a student since I moved away. I am currently a school social worker at a high school in Chicago. It brings me both great joy and stress. I am also part of a group of educators organizing for a union in our school network, The Noble Network of Schools. I did not realize that we have so much to thank unions for, like the eight-hour workday, maternity leave, sick leave, minimum wage…
Have you ever worked in any Lopez company in the Philippines or abroad, like in ABSCBN International?
I have not, but hope to someday have the opportunity to. Of the employees that I have met from ABS-CBN, they are, of course, the bomb.
How do you practice the Lopez Values of integrity, business excellence, innovativeness, employee welfare and wellness and nationalism? What other values do you adhere to?
I think I aspire to embody all of the Lopez Values; however, I will probably never be able to claim any type of business excellence in my life. Living in the United States, I have become so proud of my Pinay heritage, which I had unfortunately learned little about in school and was not myself curious about as a young person. It made me realize how deeply colonialism had impacted me. There was a time when I wanted to have white skin with blue eyes and prided myself in speaking fluent English, neglecting my mother language, Tagalog. I don’t feel that way anymore. I am working on decolonizing my actions, habits, thoughts… all of me!
In my work, my favorite guiding value is harm reduction. …I like harm reduction because it respects self-determination and people’s right to stay safe and receive help regardless of what moral judgments we have about their behavior. …Sex education is also harm reduction and is something I wish was mandatory in schools. Harm reduction can be applied to any and all things in life.
Another value that I feel is important is transformative justice. The example I was given when I was learning about transformative justice was to imagine that someone had stolen my radio. Yes, it is important to hold someone who stole something of yours accountable, but equally important is to consider why someone stole a radio from you in the first place. Why doesn’t everyone own a radio? How can we make it so that everyone has a radio and no one would need to steal to have their own?
Transformative justice is about questioning structures and challenging them rather than simply finding fault in an individual’s actions.
Are you aware of your family’s long history of philanthropy?
Yes, but maybe not the whole history! I am so humbled by the work so many of my family members do. I also believe that many of us have the opportunity and means to do so, so we should. And in the spirit of transformative justice, we should all be working towards a place where philanthropy is no longer needed.
What Philosophy or principles did your parents teach you? Can you give anecdotes of how they taught you these beliefs? Do you have stories about you and your Lolo Geny?
My parents taught me to be me, to stand up for myself… and be humble. They also let me make mistakes. I am so grateful to them because there are times when I feel very confused and doubt myself, but then I feel strong and powerful knowing that my family has my back.
I don’t remember much about Loloy.He was pretty quiet and would watch us (cousins) when we would play hide-and-seek. I think he had a profound effect on people that were in his life and I know my mom loves him a lot. I cannot imagine what type of will it took to endure being in prison and going on a hunger strike. I wish he were still around because I have many questions for him.
What important insights on being a Lopez, with its responsibilities, would you like to share with your cousins?
… I think it is so cool that we all have such disparate interests and expertise. We should all collaborate more in the future.
(Story/Photos by: Dulce Festin-Baybay)
The De los Reyes sisters share a light moment during Alisa's graduation from the University of Chicago