Angela Cristina Lopez, Operations head of Lopez Group Foundation Inc. since 2010, started her career as a volunteer.
She volunteered at ABSCBN International and made cold calls to Filipinosounding names in the Bay Area telephone directory as a telemarketer for TFC (The Filipino Channel). More often, they would end up being Hispanic residents and put the phone down on her.
“Eventually, we moved from making cold calls to answering calls from Filipinos all over California wanting to subscribe to TFC.”
She also assisted in screening candidates applying as customer service representatives.
“Once a week, I would meet applicants and recommend those for second interviews,” recalls Lopez, who graduated with an AB Business Management, minor in Human Resources Management from De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde.
Job with a purpose
At LGFI, she also began as a volunteer, eventually being invited by then LGFI president and executive director Rafael M. Alunan III to join the team on a more permanent basis. By then, her daughters were already in school most of the day and she was inclined to take on a fulltime job, provided it would be “with a purpose.” After all, she had quit the workforce for over a decade to focus on raising a family.
As LGFI program manager, her first assignment was an alternative livelihood program for the fisherfolk in Nueva Valencia, a third-class municipality in the province of Guimaras. The fishermen had been displaced by an oil spill in 2006. The Lopez family, through LGFI, donated 15 hectares of idle land to the affected community.
‘Multitude of challenges’
“We went through multitudes of challenges. A community whose sole livelihood depended on the sea had to immediately adjust to the inland and learn new farming skills, particularly in farming organic vegetables and producing natural fertilizers. Technical assistance and training workshops aided in easing this transition. After almost a decade of assistance, LGFI exited the Halad sa Guimaras program under our new president and executive director (Cedie Lopez Vargas),” says Lopez, who acknowledges that the project gave her the chance to travel often to the province and appreciate their family’s roots and rich history in the area.
Today as Operations head, Lopez oversees the day-to-day internal operations as well as coordinative activities and philanthropic initiatives of LGFI. She also clarifies that LGFI is not a charitable institution. It does not regularly give doleouts to individuals asking for funds for sick children, ailing parents, or those that have no one else to turn to for help.
“Having to turn them (solicitors) down on a regular basis is just too painful to keep doing. I take all this one day at a time and tell myself that I can’t help everyone all the time. But if I am able to see or feel a positive transformation in even just one life that I have touched, or finish capacity building for program implementers to maximize their impact in the communities that they serve, these make it a bit easier to bear,” Lopez says.
Her greatest motivation remains her children. She says: “My girls are the reason I wake up in the morning and go to work, they are the reason I want to make a difference. My work environment influences my style of parenting them in a sense that I want to expose them to it as much as possible. I tell them about the people from the communities that I meet and the real life issues and hardships that our beneficiaries face every day. I don’t want to shelter them from these things. I want them to grow up knowing that life can be hard and that we have to work for the life that we want. I encourage them to join outreach activities in school and volunteer on their own on advocacies close to their hearts. This will hopefully make them count their blessings and be thankful for the life that they have been blessed with and to never take it for granted.”
Catalyst in creating value
Going forward, she wants to see LGFI as a catalyst in creating more value for the Lopez Group as a whole. “We were established to be the coordinating hub for social initiatives, to see more organizations within the Group collaborate strategically to maximize total societal impact and create greater outcomes. This is one way of attracting the best and brightest of the incoming workforce, the millennials in particular. They not only want to work for companies that have a greater sense of purpose, but also seek an active role in making positive social and environmental impact,” she says.
The value of social justice is the main driver of LGFI, whose purpose is to “change lives and transform futures.”
She shares with LopezLink readers her favorite quote from Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” (Story/Photos by: Carla Paras-Sison)