Celebrated environmentalist Gina Lopez succumbed to brain cancer, an illness she never disclosed in public, at 65 years old on August 19.
Lopez only mentioned she was having “health challenges” in a video of Gary Valenciano singing to her last July. However, she did not specify any details about it.
“As some of you may know, I am having health challenges which I have found a blessing. So yesterday morning, I was was blessed to have a visit from Gary, his wife Angeli, and the sister of Maricel who is also a very beautiful person,” Lopez said in the caption.
“It’s amazing how he hasn’t been pulled off center by being in showbiz. He continues to be authentic. It helps that he is surrounded by similarly authentic people…Anyway enjoy!” she added.
As some of you may know, I am having health challenges which I have found a blessing. So yesterday morning, I was was blessed to have a visit from Gary, his wife Angeli, and the sister of Maricel who is also a very beautiful person… This is Gary singing to me… He is suuuuuch a beautiful person. Like such a beautiful person!!!! It's amazing how he hasn't been pulled off center by being in showbiz. He continues to be authentic. It helps that he is surrounded by smilarly authentic people… Anyway enjoy! <3
Posted by Gina Lopez on Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Broadcast giant ABS-CBN, in a statement, called her “the pillar of strength that pushed [ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.] to achieve what seemed to be impossible.”
“Her caring heart and selfless kind of love inspired people within and beyond the organization to help and serve others,” the statement read.
Lopez had been known as a strong advocate of children’s welfare, environment protection and conservation, and livelihood of indigenous people in far-flung provinces.
When she was chairperson of ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, she established Bantay Bata 163, the country’s first media-based hotline to protect disadvantaged and at-risk children.
In 1997, Bantay Bata 163 won the United Nations Grand Awardee for Excellence and bested 187 countries from around the world.
She also produced ABS-CBN’s popular children’s TV show Sineskwela, which thought children topics on science, math and English, among others.
She became the first Southeast Asian recipient of the prestigious Unesco Kalinga Award because success and popularity of this program.
She also established Bantay Kalikasan in 1999 as the foundations’ environmental arm to aid relief to victims of natural calamities such as typhoons in the country.
In 2017, she was awarded the international Seacology Prize with $10,000 for her exceptional work in leading the rehabilitation of the Pasig River, saving the La Mesa Watershed in Metro Manila and launching the anti-mining Save Palawan Island movement.
Lopez lived a privileged life as the daughter of ABS-CBN Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Lopez Jr. and Conchita La’O. She has six siblings and one of them is ABS-CBN Chairman Eugenio Lopez III.
She earned her college degree at Assumption College and Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Boston. She received her master’s degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines.
As former environment chief
President Rodrigo Duterte personally appointed Lopez as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2016.
Her appointment, however, was rejected by the Commission on Appointments in 2017 due to alleged incompetence and controversial policies.
Lopez took a hard stance against illegal mining companies in different parts of the country that time amid strong opposition from powerful stakeholders.
Former Philippine Army general Roy Cimatu took her place in May of that year.