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Humanitarian and environmentalist Gina Lopez dies at 65

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Humanitarian and environmentalist Regina Paz 'Gina' Lopez died at age 65, according to ABS-CBN Foundation.

She had two sons, Roberto and Benjamin.

"ABS-CBN Foundation deeply mourns the passing of its beloved chairman, Regina Paz 'Gina' Lopez, 65," the foundation said.

"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'" it said.

Lopez was the chairman of ABS-CBN Foundation and a former Environment Secretary under the Duterte administration.

Under Gina's leadership, Abs-CBN Foundation launched Bantay Bata 163 – the first rescue hotline for children in Asia. In 1997, Bantay Bata was the United Nations Grand Awardee for Excellence besting 187 countries all over the world.

Gina also founded Bantay Kalikasan, a program that advocates for the protection of the environment. Its most notable achievements include the successful reforestation of the La Mesa Watershed and the rehabilitation of 17 esteros of the Pasig River.

For her efforts in rehabilitating the river, she was appointed in 2010 by President Benigno S. Aquino as the Chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

"With Gina’s passing, we lost a fervent advocate of children’s rights and protection, a passionate proponent of sustainable livelihood among the underprivileged, and an unswerving champion for environment preservation," ABS-CBN announced Monday, August 19, 2019.

"Her tireless commitment to these advocacies gave birth to Bantay Bata 163, Bantay Kalikasan, and other programs under ABS-CBN Foundation," it said.

"Before serving as Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission chairperson and as Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary, she also pushed for numerous campaigns and projects, including Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig, No To Mining in Palawan, the reforestation of the La Mesa Watershed, and the TV program 'G Diaries' – all of which made a lasting impact on communities," ABS-CBN said.

In June 2016, Gina was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in an ad interim basis. On May 3, 2017, the Commission on Appointments formally rejected her appointment as Environment Secretary.

Gina hosted an environmental show on ABS-CBN, entitled “G Diaries,” which premiered on June 4, 2017. The show focuses on environmental conservation, area development, and innovations.

Gina also pioneered Educational Television (ETV) in the Philippines which put in place video libraries in 10,000 public schools.

ETV aired in the span of 15 years, 16 educational television which include shows on Science (Sineskwela), Math (Math Tinik), Values (Hirayamanawari), History (Bayani) and English (Epol /Apple). For Sineskwela, Gina was honored with the Unesco Kalinga Award, the first Southeast Asian to earn such a distinction.

She was also the Vice-Chairperson of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation, which provides microfinance assistance to micro-entrepreneurs and Chairman Emeritus of Southeast Asian Children’s Television.

Gina 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.

She became the first Filipino to be awarded the prestigious Seacology Prize on October 5, 2017 at Berkeley, California for her “exceptional achievement in preserving island environments and culture.”

Gina attended Assumption College and Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Boston.

She has a Master’s Degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management and a Doctorate Degree in Humanities, Honoris Causa from the Ateneo de Naga University and another Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from the Palawan State University.

ABS-CBN Chairman Mark Lopez, a cousin of Gina, said: "Today, we lost not just a family member but a person we deeply admire and respect."

"My cousin Gina Lopez, chairman of ABS-CBN Foundation, lived her life with overflowing love and passion to serve," he said.

"At an age when people are just figuring out what they want to do in life, she already knew her purpose. She left a comfortable life to devote her time and energy to help uplift other people’s lives" Mark Lopez said.

"When she returned to join ABS-CBN, she instilled in her people the same drive to help. For her, nothing cannot be done, no effort is too small, anybody can — and should — do their part in making the world a better place," he said.

"Like only she could, she would unite private organizations, local government units, the police and military, to join her projects and campaigns. May it be to rescue victims of child abuse, save a watershed, stop the destruction of the environment, clean a river, or help communities stand on their own by turning them into eco-tourism sites," he said.

"In lieu of flowers and Mass cards, the family requests that donations be made to the ABS-CBN Foundation," the foundation said.

ABS-CBN said there will be a memorial service for the public at the La Mesa Eco Park on August 22 to 23. Viewing time is from 9 AM to 9 PM.

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