National Artist and Carlos Palanca awardee for short story F Sionil Jose has created a quite a buzz on Facebook after making his thoughts on the ABS-CBN shutdown public.
In a Facebook post dated May 8, 2020 with the title “ABS-CBN: A Requiem“, Jose offered some words of sympathy to the plight of the employees who will lose their jobs. BUT, the Carlos Palanca awardee quickly changed tone, saying he’ll not mourn the end of ABS-CBN.
Equally eyebrow-raising was Jose’s remarked that “ABS-CBN’s demise is even good for Philippine democracy if it also means the dismantling of the Lopez empire.”
Jose arrived with that conclusion because according to him “the Lopezes played the double game; they were vociferously anti-American but were the beneficiaries of American largesse in the sugar quota gift from America. Their writers included liberals, fellow travelers and communists but Eugenio Lopez himself personified the lowest form of capitalism. The Filipinos do not really need ABS-CBN. It does not produce goods or food. It has certainly entertained millions but it did not diminish poverty. Again, freedom worked for the rich—but not for the Filipinos.”
Jose gave the public a peek how the Lopez patriarch. Don Eugenio Lopez threw his weight around in Philippine politics using the family-owned Manila Chronicle, already a major newspaper at the time.
“Way back when the Manila Chronicle was a major daily, its Sunday column, Inside Malacanang, lampooned former Senator Helena Benitez.”
Jose recalled confronting the writer, who was a friend, but what Cabrera intimated to him why he attacked a Philippine senator in his column stopped the National Artist from pursuing further what he set out to do.
“I confronted Celso Cabrera, the columnist. He was a frequent Solidaridad customer, an avid student of the Renaissance.
Helena, I told him, as everybody knew was such a decent politician, well loved and respected. Celso said, the old man (meaning Eugenio Lopez), the publisher, ordered it.
Before I could chide him, he said, I am nobody from Camiling (Tarlac). We were speaking in Ilokano. I am not a good writer. This man gave me a job, a house, a car. And he’ll refund all that I spend on your books. He asked for my balls so I gave them to him.”
Jose described the Lopez family as the most powerful Oligarch in the country now and then. He revealed that as the leader of the sugar bloc, the Lopez family’s influence encompasses the country’s politics and economy. In other words, the family made presidents and used its political clout to further grow its economic clout.
“The Lopez family is a leading member of the oligarchy—far more powerful than any of the oligarchs, then and now. As a leader of the sugar bloc, it had massive political and economic influence. It made presidents then used its influence to enlarge its economic clout, Meralco, ABS-CBN, etc.”
Jose alleged that the Lopez family got special favors from the government by getting loans from government banks and with that amount of money, it became a haven of the Philippine Reds.
“God knows what billions the family got from government financing institutions to become a haven for communist fronts and communists, among them the late Renato Constantino.”
In fairness, National Artist F. Sionil Jose offered some nice compliment for the Lopez patriarch for supporting the Philippine arts.
“One Sunday morning, he called me up at home and asked if I’d open our Solidaridad Galleries—Don Eugenio Lopez wanted to see the Nena Saguil exhibition.
I hurried to the Gallery in Malate. Don Eugenio arrived and looked at the exhibit twice then he bought more than half of the show. Surely, there was a good side to this oligarch—his patronage of Filipino art, his Filipinoness as illustrated and epitomized in the Lopez museum. Surely, many writers and cultural workers owe him profound gratitude.”
Source: F Sionil Jose