Geny Lopez… Manila Philippines


Geny Lopez… Manila Philippines

Geny Lopez…

Eugenio Moreno Lopez Jr

How Eugenio "Geny" Lopez Jr Founded and Grew the ABS-CBN Empire | Tatler Asia

Geny Lopez (Eugenio Moreno Lopez Jr), also known as Kapitan, was born in Iloilo City on 4 November 1928. He died in Hillsborough, California, USA on 29 June 1999. He was the eldest child of Eugenio “Eñing” Lopez Sr and Pacita Moreno. He married Conchita “Chita” La’O, with whom he had seven children: Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, who inherited from him the management of ABS-CBNRegina Paz, who put up ABS-CBN Foundation; Ernesto; Rosario; Ramon; Roberta; and Rafael. His loving companion for 10 years until his death was former fashion model and Camay girl Susan Reyes. Geny completed his elementary school at San Beda College in 1942, and high school at Ateneo de Manila in 1946. He attended Ateneo de Manila for a year in 1947, but transferred to Virginia Military Institute in the United States in 1948, where he completed a bachelor of arts degree in 1950. He pursued graduate studies in Madrid in 1950, then went back to the United States for a master in business administration from Harvard Business School, which he completed in 1953.

Geny was assigned by his father Eñing to run the family-owned newspaper Manila Chronicle in 1953. He was responsible for the merger in 1957 of Alto Broadcasting System (ABS), which his father bought from Antonio Quirino in 1956, and the Lopez-owned radio station Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN), which Eñing established in 1956, into ABS-CBN Channel 3. Quirino’s ABS, formerly Bolinao Electronics Corporation (BEC), had DZAQ TV Channel 3, the first television network in the country that began operating in 1953. ABS subsidiary Bolinao Broadcasting System had radio stations DZBC in San Juan, Rizal, DZRI in Dagupan, Pangasinan, and DZRB in Naga, Camarines Sur. The Lopezes incorporated the media conglomerate under the name BEC Channel 3, officially changed it to ABS-CBN Channel 3 in 1963, then ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation in 1967. The call sign “Channel 2” was first introduced into the network’s logo in 1986 after the Lopezes regained possession of the station, which was shut down by Marcos when he declared martial law in 1972, with its facilities seized and taken over by Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto.

Geny propelled ABS-CBN to being the Philippines’ largest network. In 1961, he got the rights for ABS-CBN to cover and air the 1962 and 1966 ASEAN Games. In 1966, the network started telecasting color programs and introduced the Sarimanok logo. In 1967, its programs Buhay Artista (Actor’s Life), 1964, Wild, Wild West, 1965, The Nida-Nestor Show, 1965, Tawag ng Tanghalan (Call of the Stage), 1958, and Your Evening with Pilita, 1965, were on top of the ratings charts. In 1968, he and his father built the most technologically advanced broadcast center in Asia on Bohol Ave in Quezon City, and established Nuvue Cablevision, the country’s first cable company. In 1969, ABS-CBN covered Apollo 11’s historic landing on the moon, the country’s first telecast of an event via satellite. By 1972, ABS-CBN was a giant network, with television Channels 2 and 4, seven radio stations in Metro Manila, three provincial TV stations, 14 radio stations, and three radio affiliate stations.

Geny was among those detained in a maximum security prison in Fort Bonifacio during martial law. In November 1972, the military arrested him “on trumped-up charges of conspiring to assassinate the dictator” (Rodrigo 2006, 4). The price of Geny’s freedom was “his family’s handing over to Marcos the major Lopez companies” (Rodrigo et al. 2008, 38). On 24 January 1975, he was asked to sign a letter agreeing to the confiscation of their properties, admitting their involvement in the alleged plot to assassinate Marcos, and endorsing martial law. He refused to sign, and the negotiations with Marcos collapsed. He and fellow detainee Sergio Osmeña III, whose father was a Marcos political rival, staged a hunger strike inside their prison cell in 1974 to call attention to their plight. In 1977, the two escaped from their detention cell by crawling beneath barbed wires, beyond the fenced-in perimeter of Fort Bonifacio, and off via a chartered aircraft to the United States where they sought political asylum. He returned to the Philippines on 28 February 1986, two days after the fall of the dictator.

The post-EDSA conditions worked to the advantage of the Lopezes. Through Augusto Almeda Lopez and intermediaries in the administration of newly installed president Corazon Aquino, he recovered the Lopez companies commandeered by Marcos’s cronies, including the Manila Chronicle, Meralco, First Holdings, PCIBank, and ABS-CBN’s Channel 2 and two radio stations. The Lopezes filed a case against Marcos crony Roberto Benedicto, who took over their network during martial law. With help from brothers Oscar and Manuel, Geny revived and rebuilt ABS-CBN Corporation.

Geny enlisted experts who formed the executive body of the network, which steered the station to its growth and expansion. One of them was Federico Garcia, who was into sales for the second Lopez-owned station Channel 9 before martial law. Garcia’s marketing strategies propelled the post-martial law ABS-CBN from the bottom five in the ratings to the number one position in a span of only one year and a half. Geny tapped the likes of Charo Santos-ConcioJohnny Manahan, and Salvii Casino to strengthen the station’s productions and programming. He invested in the latest communications technology and infrastructure, such as state-of-the-art electronic news gathering vans. ABS-CBN’s tag line “In the service of the Filipino” was introduced in 1988. It resumed its provincial operations, beginning with DYCB-TV Channel 3 in Cebu, also in 1988. It started to penetrate the international market, beginning with the launch of ABS-CBN International in Daly City in 1992, the ABS-CBN Televideo rental market in the United States in 1993, and The Filipino Channel (TFC), also in 1993. It ventured into other operations, such as UHF broadcasting through Studio 23, television subscriptions through Sky Cable, 24-hour news programming in the Sarimanok News Network, local and international film productions through Star Cinema, music recordings through Star Records, consumer merchandising through Star Magic, and basketball franchise through the Metropolitan Basketball Association.

Television programming changed when Geny regained the network in 1986. There was a clamor for infotainment with a strong local and mass-oriented bent. Its entertainment programs—specifically, Martin & Pops, 1987-88, Palibhasa Lalake (Because They Are Guys), 1987-89, Luv Ko si Kris (I Love Kris), 1990-92, The Sharon Cuneta Show, 1986-88, Sa Linggo nAPO Sila (The APO Are Now on Sunday), 1990-95, Maalaala Mo Kaya (Will You Remember), 1991 to present, Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata (Wait for the Next Chapter), 1991-97, Home along da Riles (Home along the Railroad), 1992-2003, Ang TV (The TV), and Oki Doki Dok (Okay, Doc), 1993—and news and public affairs programs TV Patrol, 1987 to present, The World Tonight, 1986-99, Magandang Gabi, Bayan! (Good Evening, Nation!), 1988-2005, Mel & Jay, 1988-96, and Balitang K (K News), 1996-2001, dominated the ratings game.

Critics observed, however, that public affairs programming of ABS-CBN under Geny’s management shifted from a serious social and political tone to one that was peppered with the sensationalism of the everyday. These programs were staged to make the anchors look sleek and glamorous. Entertainment became as important as news. The personal lives of movie stars were highlighted as much as news on the government or the stock market. News platforms and media personalities associated with hard news presented tidbits on supernatural occurrences, scandals, intrigues, heinous crimes, and comic relief. Real-life domestic conflicts were spiced up, similar to those in soap opera melodrama.

Geny remained the president of the network until 1997 when he turned over the chairmanship of the broadcast network to son Gabby, who had been tasked by his father the day-to-day management of the network since 1993. Geny received the KBP Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.


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