Ambassador Manuel M. Lopez (AMML), chairman emeritus of Lopez Holdings Corporation and vice chairman of First Philippine Holdings Corporation, passed away on Jan. 12, 2023.
It is said AMML was named for his godfather with whom he shared his birth month—then House Speaker Manuel Roxas, who, like the Lopezes at the time, was living in Baguio.
The fourth child of Lopez Group founder Eugenio “Eñing” Lopez Sr. and Pacita Moreno, AMML was known as Manolo to his family and associates. If, like the patriarch, eldest son Eugenio Jr. was charming and aggressive, Oscar studious, Presy strongwilled, and Roby artistic and philanthropic, AMML was gifted with the common touch seen in his uncle, former vice president Fernando Lopez.
Amml joined Meralco in 1965 after getting married to Maritess Lagdameo in the US and working at a bank. The would-be banker had the inside track for an executive position, but his father had other plans.
“I had to do the utility jobs, like working with the meter readers, going with the bill collectors. The only thing that I never did was to go up the electrical poles, because the supervisors did not want to take a chance on my getting hurt…. But other than that, I did everything,” he recalled in “Phoenix: The Saga of the Lopez Family.”
The year-and-a-half exposure served AMML in good stead as he went up the ladder in the company. By 1970, he had been appointed vice president for general services.
He went on to serve as Meralco president from 1986 to 2001, chairman and CEO from 2001 to 2010, chairman from 2010 to 2012 and director from 1986 to 2018.
He championed and instilled “malasakit” in the company where he spent the bulk of his corporate life.
“His leadership is best known for Malasakit, one of Meralco’s core values, which lives on among us and will continue to light our way…. Malasakit. Integrity. Leadership by example. This is your legacy with Meralco,” the company said in a statement posted on Facebook after his passing.
AMML served as Philippine ambassador to Japan from December 2010 to June 2016. Barely three months in, the magnitude 9.0-9.1 Great East Japan Earthquake struck, and he tirelessly led efforts to locate and assist the Filipinos in the immediate area and in the rest of Japan. His term was marked by the expansion of trade with Japan that increased direct investments of Japanese firms in the country. For his exemplary service, he was awarded the PhilippinesJapan Society Medal of Merit during the 38th PhilippinesJapan Friendship
Dinner and Awards Night in July 2016.
He was conferred by President Benigno Aquino III the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Grand Cross, an order of diplomatic merit “conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines.” He was also awarded by then-Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida, the current Japanese Prime Minister, with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun for his efforts to raise Philippine-Japan relations to that of strategic partnership.
Amml was also chairman of the board of Rockwell Land Corporation, vice chairman of Lopez Inc. and president of Eugenio Lopez Foundation.