we stand WHAT do you get when you distill the essence, the life of a man— a patriarch and pillar of business, historian and scholar—into one and a half hours of song and dance numbers by turns poignant, touching and rousing?
“Undaunted,” staged at the Meralco Theater on April 23-24, 2010, was one of the highlights of the 80th birthday celebration of Lopez Group chairman Oscar M. Lopez (OML)
is a two-part musicale told from the viewpoint of the Lopez Group chairman. It traces the fortunes of the Lopez family and the genesis of the Lopez values—a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, business excellence, nationalism, team work, strong work ethic, integrity, social justice, and concern for employee welfare and wellness—as articulated by Eugenio “Eñing” Lopez Sr.
“The Lopezes have such a rich history and legacy that every Filipino should be allowed to see, and to see it in a dramatic manner,” “Undaunted” executive producer Alvin Trono said. “It’s something I will really remember just because it’s something I believe in,” he said of “Undaunted.” “It’s not just a project—it’s seeing and feeling and experiencing their lives despite adversities and how they rise from that. That’s very admirable and that is the human story. That makes it something memorable.”
Trono, director/playwright George de Jesus III, composer Roy del Valle and a full complement of Stages staff worked with the team from First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPHC) led by VP Benjamin Lopez and Lopez Museum
director Cedie Lopez-Vargas to bring the project to fruition. To write “Undaunted,” De Jesus sifted through “a million hooks and stories and themes”— including OML’s genealogy of the Lopez clan—to find the one hook that resonated with him and around which the bio-musical could revolve. He finally zeroed in on Eñing’s statement, “Material wealth should never enslave a man but a man should be its master to better serve his fellowmen.” “Initially, I didn’t know why that statement caught my eye or why I decided to weave the whole musicale around that statement,” De Jesus wrote in his director/playwright’s notes for the souvenir program. “It [was] only during the process of writing and staging the musicale that I realized why, and it made me more than passionate about the story we [were] going to tell….
Undaunted the musical
“The epical story of the Lopez family is a metaphor for the whole Philippines, and the trait of rising again to overcome obstacles is a Filipino trait,” De Jesus, who has won Palanca Awards for his plays, noted. “The Lopez family is actually proposing what Filipinos should be, to work on our strengths as a people and then do it! Kaya kung makakaya despite all the problems.” Audie Gemora,
who played his real-life cousin OML, revealed that doing “Undaunted” was an eye-opener even to a Lopez descendant like himself. He admitted that he had never given much thought to what “In the service of the Filipino,” ABSCBN’s tagline, really meant.
“But it’s really true pala. Nung sinimulan pala talaga itong mga companies nina Manong Eñing, Manong Nanding, that was really in their hearts. And even with our forefathers, ganun ang kanilang objective,” he said during the cast’s rehearsal/pictorial in Stand Studio in Mandaluyong.
The theater veteran and sixthgeneration Lopez added that through “Undaunted,” he hoped that people will come to appreciate the spirit behind the family. “Sometimes there’s just too much politics and economic warfare going on that we forget the human side to any family. I hope people will see this and realize the goodness of the clan,” he said.
Asked how long it took him to write the music for “Undaunted,” composer and arranger Roy del Valle quipped: “Masyadong matagal! For 20 numbers, mga one month. The easiest songs to compose were the fun numbers plus the duets, and the hardest was the storytelling dahil nagpopause, tutuloy, magpo-pause; tumitigil ka ng melody.” Del Valle, who has “a few hundred jingles and scores for advertising and corporate themes” under his belt, said he realized that the Lopezes’ strength lies in the value they place on family unity, allowing them to rise anew after such upheavals as World War II, martial law, and the 1990s Asian financial crisis.
“Wala namang extraordinary powers na binigay sa kanila except yung value ng pamilya nila in making their ascent happen again. Kung mag-isa lang sila, after two or after three [declines] hindi na nila kinaya. Pero since malalim sila mag-isip, inisip nila yung future generations—the next and the next and the next. Siguro kung kaya nating lahat na mag-isip ng ganun ka-long term and for the benefit of many, mas maganda sana ang Pilipinas,” he observed. A ccording to Jake Macapacal, who played Geny, one lesson to be gleaned from “Undaunted” is that “life goes on.”
Undaunted the musical
“Kung ano man yung pinagdaanan mo, dapat mag-pursige pa. Don’t be scared or have fear in your heart because life goes on, time moves on. Just persevere and it will take you to a better place.” More than the prospect of performing before their kapamilya in the Lopez Group, the employees who made it to the ensemble of “Undaunted” were motivated by a desire to pay tribute to OML. “I really wanted to be a part of this, as a tribute to the person— next to God of course— whom I owe my life to, OML,” Josephine delos Santos, an accountant with First Philippine Realty Corporation, said. “He cared enough to engineer Lopez Lifelong Wellness, which made me fit physically to be able to withstand the onslaught of two hemorrhages brought about by… a life-risk factor faced by late pregnancies.” FPHC HR Ross Hamo, for his part, described his participation in “Undaunted” as a great opportunity to understand more deeply the moving spirit behind the Lopez Group. First Philec Solar Corp.’s Rene Espinosa, 27, admitted that he learned about the Lopezes’ fate during martial law only when he joined the “Undaunted” cast. “Para kay OML” was his explanation for joining the musicale. Chapel of the Two Hearts
Espinosa’s colleague Ryan de Leon, 22, said he was honored to be a part of what he called a “once in a lifetime experience.” In his desire to honor OML, De Leon braved the grueling commute to and from Batangas to attend the rehearsals, for one month. A lso part of the “Undaunted” ensemble were Rosemarie Abletes of First Balfour Inc., Jig Blanco of First Philippine Electric Corporation, Domileo Espejo of ABSCBN Interactive, Alvin Libay of First Gen, JR Paeste of Philippine Electric Corporation, Ritzi Ronquillo of Meralco and Kathy Solis of ABS-CBN. Another ensemble member, Mian Dimacali, is the daughter of First Philippine Industrial Park president Hector Dimacali.
Twenty-three Lopez grandchildren, as well as Cedie Lopez- Vargas, also made a special appearance in the musicale, singing “The Spirit that Moves Us” with the rest of the cast in the finale. Dayap School
The celebrations for OML’s 80th year included a dinner organized by FPHC on April 20. On May 6 will be the inauguration of what will soon be known as Oscar M. Lopez Dayap Elementary School in BayaniJuan sa Southville 7, Calauan, Laguna
. The school has three two-story buildings with 24 classrooms; four instructional rooms including a science lab and multimedia room; a library; and a bakery. FPHC had donated funds for the construction of two livelihood centers for the community. Other companies also rolled out their respective projects in BayaniJuan sa Southville 7 in honor of OML: Energy Development Corporation (EDC)
though its Binhi
program will spearhead the development of a 2,000-sq.m. tree park, where 80 rare hardwood species will be planted, while Rockwell Land will build the Chapel of Two Hearts adjacent to the area. The latter will be designed and constructed by a team of Rockwell employees, consultants, contractors and suppliers. As well, the company has pledged to maintain and expand the chapel and its congregation.