Gina Lopez Environmental Champion 1953-2019
“The experience of life is how you see it…… My consistent experience in life is that as long as one commits to integrity and service, there are Divine Forces that help”– Gina Lopez, Rogue Magazine
On the 19thAugust 2019 the Philippines lost one of its greatest philanthropists and environmental advocates. Former interim DENR Secretary Gina Lopez is reported to have died of multiple organ failure after a long battle with cancer, at the age of 65.
Whilst Gina Lopez was born in to a life of privilege, she left this behind her at 18, and instead dedicated 20 years of her life to being an Ananda Yoga Missionary. During that time she taught yoga and ran children’s homes and pre-primary schools for the under-privileged in Portugal, India and Africa, before returning to the Philippines in 1986.
“When one doesn’t have much, one treasures every little bit. I lived as the poor lived, so I learned how not to be wasteful—a trait I carry to this day where I use every bit of everything”
– Gina Lopez, Rogue Magazine.
Lopez made it her mission to protect the immense biodiversity of the Philippines while, at the same time, promoting social justice. Her numerous achievements and awards show just how committed she was to that.
“The best way to protect the environment is to improve people’s lives. That’s my experience”
– Gina Lopez
Gina Lopez’s achievements include:
- Initiated corporate social responsibility programs for the environment and Filipino communities
- Chairperson, Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig project, which oversaw the rehabilitation of Pasig River, Manila and its tributaries
- Chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission
- Led on the Reforestation of La Mesa Watershed & Ecopark, the last remaining forest zone in Metro Manila.
- Suspended the operations of at least 6 mining operations, found to have violated environmental laws.
- Banned Open Pit Mining
- The first South East Asian to be awarded an UNESCO Kalinga Award; an award given for exceptional skill in presenting scientific ideas to lay people, for her educational TV Shows aimed at elementary and high school audiences.
- Founder of Bantay Bata 163, a helpline devoted to reports of cases of child abuse, which was an United Nations Grand Awardee for Excellence.
- Founder of Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies (iLOVE) Foundation. A group dedicated to the creation of environmentally conscious businesses, to lift communities out of poverty
- Awarded the 2017 Seacology Prize for exceptional achievement in preserving island environments and culture.
- Vice-Chairperson of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation, which provides microfinance assistance to micro-entrepreneurs.
- Founder of Bantay Kalikasan, the environmental arm of ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation
- Chairman Emeritus of Southeast Asian Children’s Television
ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI), of which she was Chairman, released the following statement on the news of her death:
“Gina Lopez was a champion for the environment, child protection, and the disadvantaged. She exemplified a life of service to humanity with a deep desire to improve people’s lives, rallied for social justice, and sought to bring hope and change to poor communities.”
Gina’s passing comes at a time when the Philippine Hospitality and Tourism Industry is starting to address its environmental impacts, with a move towards not just sustainability but also social responsibility for our indigenous communities. Her loss is a significant one.
Regina Paz “Gina” La’O López 27 December 1953 – 19 August 2019
Gina Lopez fights Philippine Mining – New Internationalist January 2018
Gina Lopez on her Ashram Years and Turning Her Back on a Privileged Life – Rogue