Gina, a woman in a hurry due to her short life, says brother Ernie

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2019 11:10 PM

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle celebrates mass at the wake of philanthropist and environment advocate Gina Lopez at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City on Tuesday, August 20, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN Publishing Inc. chief Ernie Lopez on Tuesday revealed that the few months his family had with his sister Gina before she passed away on Monday were still not enough to lessen their sadness.

“When my father died, we only had one month. We had two and a half months to process what was happening to Gina so we’ve had time,” Lopez said during the first day of his sister’s wake at the ABS-CBN compound.

The Lopez patriarch, Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr., succumbed to cancer two decades ago. 

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“Nalulungkot kami dito s'yempre kasi nami-miss namin s'ya. Hindi kami ready na may kapatid kami na 65 years old lang, mawawala sa amin. Batang bata pa s'ya, malakas naman s'ya, hindi namin expected na mangyari ito. Kaya malungkot kami,” Ernie Lopez said.

(We are sad because, of course, we miss her. We are not ready to lose a sister who is just 65 years old. She was still young. She was strong, so we did not expect this to happen. We are truly sad.)

He added that it was probably why the former environment secretary was working hard.

“Tingin namin may plano naman ang Diyos, may timetable. Kaya laging nagmamadali si Gina sa lahat ng ginagawa nya,” Lopez said. 

“Gusto n'ya gawin ngayon o gawin agad. Palagay ko may internal clock s'ya na binigay ng Panginoon. Kailangan n'ya magmadali kasi maikli na lang ang buhay nya.”

(We think God had a plan. There was a timetable. That’s why Gina seemed to always be in a hurry. She wanted to do things now and immediately. I think the Lord gave her an internal clock. She needed to rush things, because her life was short.)

Lopez became teary-eyed when talking about the outpouring of public sympathy. He said it also helped that the first day of the wake was inside ABS-CBN, which was founded by their family. 

“This is a safe place. This is our home. Napapaligiran kami ng Kapamilya, mga taong nagmamahal sa kanya kaya we are thankful, grateful, overwhelmed na overwhelmed kami sa pagmamahal na pinakita ng tao kay Gina,” he said.

(This is a safe place. This is our home. We are surrounded by ABS-CBN employees, people who love her. That is why we are thankful, grateful, overwhelmed with everybody’s love for Gina.)

Lopez thanked the people who expressed their condolences and shared stories about her, adding that it somehow eases the pain of their loss.

“I haven’t read anything negative about Gina,” he said, “because they know my sister. She doesn’t have selfish interests. She just wants to help the nation.”

Lopez said it wasn't difficult to grow close to his sister, because she was fun to be with. “She is a good person,” he said. 

He couldn’t forget how his sister would always want to play games such as patintero or hide-and-seek even when they were adults. 

“She’s a woman of integrity. Iisa lang s'ya. Kung ano'ng nakikita mo sa publiko, ganu'n rin s'ya kung kasama n'ya pamilya nya, driver n'ya. Hindi s'ya matapobre,” he said.

(She’s a woman of integrity. She’s the only one. How she was seen in public, that’s who she was with her family, her staff. She didn't look down on people.)

Lopez said the only thing he wishes for is for the public to continue her advocacies.

Even before she became environment secretary, Gina Lopez was a known environment advocate. As head of ABS-CBN Foundation, she also spearheaded many cause-oriented programs, including Bantay Bata and the rehabilitation of the La Mesa watershed.

“Ang mga sinimulan ni Gina, tayong lahat kailangan magpatuloy (Whatever Gina started, we should continue it),” he said. “Simple lang naman ang mensahe n'ya (Her message is very simple) . . . Love God, Love your neighbor, take care of the environment because it will take care of you.”

“Kung maisagawa natin 'yan, mag-iiba talaga ang bansa natin. Sabi nga n'ya, hindi kailangan maging mahirap ang Pilipinas kung pangangalagaan lang natin ang kalikasan natin,” Lopez said.

(If we can do that then our country could change. As she said, the Philippines won’t be poor if we take care of our environment.)