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August 23, 2019

THE QUEST FOR LOVE OF GINA LOPEZ

Songs take on new meaning when you remember the time it was sung to you, or when you last heard it. She always sang “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky…”. She believed she could do anything with the power of LOVE. Every time we said goodbye, she sent me off with the song, “You are the one who makes me happy…”.

Gina Lopez chose an appropriate name for her project. She called it “QUEST FOR LOVE”. She was forever on this quest and shared with people her belief that LOVE conquers all and love will solve all our challenges.

Gina and the mentors of Quest for Love

When we first attended the Quest for Love meeting, we thought it might be a big challenge to work with someone who was such an icon as an Earth Warrior. But, she made everything seem easy. If she could climb mountains, so could we. As she challenged the younger ones in the group with “Kaya ba?” (Can you do it?), everyone says “Kaya!!!” (Yes, we can!!!). No challenge was too high, too hard, or too impossible.

The three partners of ECHOstore—Jeannie, Reena, and Myself—all feel blessed that she came into our life. Each of us would get her own dose of “sweetheart” and “darling” through texts and phone calls. We all were touched by her realness that we had never felt with anyone.


The Quest
We attended several meetings with sponsors, other mentors, and volunteers and finally chose two winners to adopt. Ours are the fifth class municipality called Tublay, Benguet and the farmers’ cooperative in Upi, Maguindanao.

Our partner (or what is called an LO or Loving Organization) is the University of Cordilleras (UC) who gave us support through logistics, organization, and of course like-minded people such as Vice President Onie Aguinalde and Dean Laarni Andam.

We went up to meet our chosen community. After mapping our route, Gina came up to meet us, to scale mountains and cross makeshift bridges, to find tourist destinations the town could promote and make a livelihood from. We spent a very meaningful lunch with the Tublay barangay and the municipal officials who to this day are ever supportive of our ideas and suggestions for their sustainable livelihood projects.

For Upi, Maguindanao she took Reena on an unexpected plane ride to visit the organic farmers led by Jandatu Salik and gave them hope to carry on and plant more vegetables, as we also proposed the construction of a stopover café for motorists along the national highway.

We slept in the same quarters or residence provided by UC, and ate the same simple food at the events at PMA or at the community barangay hall in Tublay.

Green Peppers and Lemons
One day she called us that the Tublay people delivered a truckload of green bell peppers, lemons, and other organic vegetables to ABS CBN compound. “Can I have some sent to you?” she asked Reena. We then distributed the crates of lemons to three of our stores and the green bell pepper is now what Reena created as our ECHOstore Green Bell Pepper Jam, because we had to do something with a bumper crop of bell peppers that came our way. She would also micromanage and text and ask how we did with selling the vegetables. When you have lemons, you make lemonade. When you have green bell peppers, you make jam.

The Lunch
Last May 6, 2019, she invited us to her beautiful home for lunch. She showed us her herb garden. We talked about many things like Tublay, ECHOstore, her own G Stuff store, and we also asked if she could help us with getting a space at Rockwell. Right away she called someone at Rockwell and introduced us by phone. “Please meet them,” she tells the person on the other line. She tasked Jeannie among us to follow up. That is Gina. A moment is never wasted, maybe because she knew she did not have much time left.


Her Quest for Love
We will never meet someone like her ever again. The world will never have another Gina Lopez. She is one of a kind and a real trooper who knew she could make a difference all the more because of her unusual ways.

And we are sending her off with love because she taught us the real meaning of how love can heal our world.

She believed as we believe that we can fly and soon touch the sky.

Farewell, Gina, you have lit that fire in all of us which will fill the world with your love. Your quest. Your love is now our love.

 

 

Photos from the Facebook page of Gina Lopez, Marvin Beduya, and ECHOsi Foundation

 

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