Erica Lopez AbelloHow is the holiday season spent when you are a part of a large, prominent family? Veronica Antonia “Erica” Lopez Abello, daughter of Raffy and Pia Lopez Abello, shares with LopezLink the yearly traditions of her clan. She also talks about the impact of her grandparents, Oscar M. Lopez and Connie Rufino Lopez, while growing up. Erica also gives an insight into how important family bonding and unity is to the Lopezes..
Can you tell us something about your educational and professional background?
What I studied and what I do now couldn’t seem more opposite from each other. I studied BS Health Sciences in Ateneo de Manila University and went on to continue my medical studies in Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. While I was enjoying the sciences, I felt I wasn’t as passionate about it, so I decided to leave and pursue something closer to my heart.
I’ve had a pretty interesting and fun career path since then, learned many things and gained invaluable skills to where I am today. I currently work part-time as a teacher on the weekends and full-time during the week as the administrative officer for FARM Inc., a landscaping company started by my grandfather, Oscar M. Lopez, and now owned and run by my father, Raffy Abello.
How was it growing up in such a closely-knit clan? What were the values taught you? Any holiday traditions?
The Christmas season always makes me feel nostalgic and often makes me reminisce about how it was like growing up in such a closely-knit clan. Ever since I could remember, weekends, holidays and school breaks were spent with my whole family. As a kid, I never really understood what my school friends meant about having “family friends” because to me, my family were my friends.
My grandparents have always been about fostering the family bond and giving us the opportunity to see and experience the world. Almost every Christmas, we get to travel to a country we’ve never been to and it’s been so amazing. I’ve been blessed with some of the best memories touring around Europe, Africa, the US and places like New Zealand and Japan. It’s honestly difficult to pick my favorite trip from all the countries we’ve been to.
But when you ask me what memory jumps out when I think of Christmas, it’s the holidays spent in our home in San Francisco, all of us in one house, some cooking, watching TV, playing games or hanging out together just laughing about nonsense. We never do anything grand in terms of holiday celebration. It may seem simple compared to traveling around the world seeing new things but I realized—and you can ask any of my cousins and they’d have the same sentiments—that what makes Christmases special in this family is the time we spend together.
Can you give anecdotes on how you practiced the values taught you by your parents and grandparents? How did they influence you?
My grandparents are the epitome of generosity, care and kindness, and I’ve always been inspired by them to live my life the way they have. It’s never the big things but always the small things that count, so in whatever way I can make a difference, I try to do it. I always have my family at the back of my mind, so almost every decision I make t a k e s them into account. I feel I wouldn't be where I am today without the love and support I’ve received from them, so in whatever I do, I try to do for them. When I work, I do in excellence because I’d only want to make them proud.
Have you ever worked with any Lopez company? Can you describe how it was? How were you with your coworkers?
You could say my current job started out as a Lopez company before my dad decided to take over. Working for the company has been just absolutely amazing. I’ve been learning so much and I enjoy the people I work with. It’s like my own family values passed down from my grandparents have also been instilled here. The sense of family, respect and care for one another has flourished despite the challenges the company has faced in all the years it’s been open. It’s actually really nice to see that the people in the company, most especially the ones that have been around since its early years under the administration of my grandfather, really feel a sense of attachment and loyalty to the company. Everyone cares for each other and really works together to keep the company growing despite whatever obstacles may come.
I was also able to work as a talent in ABS-CBN, specifically as a TV show host on their music channel called MYX before I worked fulltime with my dad. Just like at work with my dad, I felt like I was at home with all the people I worked with in Star Magic and MYX. I made sure that only a select few knew I was a Lopez because I wanted to really prove to myself that whatever came my way was because I deserved it. I got to get to know everyone, from the big bosses to the artists and even the staff and camera crew on set. I formed bonds with some of the most genuine people I’ve met and fostered relationships with some of the hardest working people in the industry.
What was so great about my experience working here was that, again, the values instilled in me by my parents and grandparents were also lived out by its employees. A sense of family unity, teamwork, excellence and care thrived in our workplace.
What advice would you give your younger siblings regarding the Lopez Values? Your responsibilities of being part of such a big family?
To be a part of a family that loves and accepts you is more valuable than silver or gold. I think that growing up, you don’t realize how important your family is and it’s all just about making new friends and spending time with them but the older I get, the more I realize just how absolutely grateful I am for them. No matter what you are going through in life, family has your back—even when it doesn’t seem so and you might think only your friends can understand you. They know you the most and will always have your best interest at heart. So nurture your relationship with family and cherish every moment spent together, listen to their advice and remember that family will always be there for you. (Story/Photos by: Dulce Festin-Baybay)