This one’s for “Lope” PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 June 2018 14:33



I should have written this piece years ago when he was climbing up the ladder of success. I dedicate today’s column to a long time friend who belongs to the league of extraordinary gentlemen, always imploring the Great Architect to grant us peace.

In the early 1960s, seven “Ibanag” from the sunny city of Tuguegarao in the north migrated to Zamboanga when the Jesuits closed down the college department of Ateneo de Tuguegarao. Out of the “seven golden men”, six have gone to the great unknown, leaving behind one durable buddy of theirs who made his fortune here.

Lope Iringan was a working-student at the eagles’ nest in La Purisima — cleaning classrooms, waxing floors and serving early morning masses (in Latin) at the Jesuit House. He was the perfect “pichon del padre”, having breakfast with them over sweetened ham, honey cured bacon, eggs, toast bread, coffee and assorted fruits. He may have wanted to be an engineer, as he frequented the pre-engineering building at the third floor of the narra-built building that also housed the library and some college classrooms.

At that time, Ateneo de Zamboanga had the cleanest campus in Zamboanga, freshened with huge pine trees (gone now) acacia trees that served as home to “tocos” and centipedes, carabao-grassed parade grounds that doubled as softball and soccer playing fields.

Diligent as a student, industrious as a worker, Lope climbed the highest of mountains to achieve every migrant’s dream of a good, comfortable and enriching life. Married to Rose of the Infante clan, Lope opened a medical supply store even as he was co-anchoring a news program over the defunct First United Broadcasting Corporation in tandem with the late Bong Apolinario.

He developed his eloquence while taking up drama lessons from Fr. Agustin Bello and at the same time being a member of the speakers’ club. In school, Lope read all the “isms” at the library, including communism, after all, the Ateneo library was the grand room of learning — from prose and poetry, classics, science, to novels, short stories and western (Max Brand)and romantic (Emily Loring) pocket books.

Lope is known and well-loved by the knights and travelers and people of multiple learnings. Working so hard to achieve self-actualization, he surrounded himself with influence and privilege. He is a Shriner, and therefore, noble and possesses the temperance that he fashioned into excellence. He molded his intelligence with the help of extreme luck. He often jokes that he graduated number 10 in his class. There were only 10 of them.

Lope is more of a Zamboangueño than an Ibanag, although he speaks Chavacano with a peculiar accent. Very gentle as a person, his whole life revolves around the hope that there is always help for a widow’s son. He wasn’t born to teach religion, but he is a moralist, a Catholic. Though he hails from Tuguegarao, he is loyal to Zamboanga, having prospered here with the simplicity of his lifestyle, but nevertheless stunning, for it is no secret that he has a fortune by his labors. He has a brilliant business mind. He left Tuguegarao and dared to venture into the unknown — and succeeded.