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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, November 25, 2019
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with Matè Espina

A motherís plea

Rock & Refuge

Attending an emotional press conference is always tougher than even one called for by the head of state.

When you attend a press briefing by a national official, you come prepared with questions that will answer the story that you have formulated in your mind or as a product of a news conference before you get fielded for coverage.

But when an interview falls into a very emotional one, one sometimes gets tongue-tied, allowing the interviewee to let out her emotions and regain back her composure – as what happened last Friday, when Mrs. Corazon Lo, founder of Negros Grace Pharmacy, bared her heart and soul over the ongoing battle for NGP’s ownership.

Mrs. Lo, midway in the interview couldn’t help but cry over what she described as her sadness in how she is now treated as an outcast in the very company that she and her husband, the late Dr. Manuel Lo worked hard for since 1968, when they first opened their first pharmacy in Cadiz City, to what it is now, a chain of pharmacies all over Visayas with an estimated value in billions.

That morning, Mrs. Lo brought media with her in her attempt to enter the NGP warehouse where she used to hold office before she filed a lawsuit against two of her sons and in-laws who have full control of the company now and attempted to sell the same.

Asia Canieso, lawyer for Ian Lo, one of the sons in the case, called it a “publicity stunt.” Perhaps it was, perhaps not, but fact is, barring your own mother who founded the company leaves a bad taste to the mouth.

Canieso also said that Mrs. Lo is no longer a stockholder or director of NGP and has therefore ceased to have any rights in the corporation and since June 2019, this has been the status quo between the parties.

Haven’t we heard this before in another feuding family? Of course we do not know how the shares were acquired from Mrs. Lo as the lawyer said, but the fact remains, as attested to former employees of NGP who were with the company from as far back as 1970, that it was Dr. and Mrs. Lo who grew the business, sometimes depriving themselves of snacks in between as they were hands-on in providing service to their clientele.

But more than the case in court now is the mother’s plea to have her family reconcile as the feud has pitted her three sons against each other as well, since Jonathan, the middle child who owns Merzci, opted to support his mother in whatever decisions she makes.

There have been talks of course that Jonathan is behind her mother’s decisions, but this was thumbed down by Mrs. Lo who said that contrary to claims, “Those who say Jonathan is the brains does not know me well for I have my own mind, I know my rights and all he (Jonathan) has done is to support me financially” now that NGP has deprived her of any income.

Mrs. Lo was honest enough to admit that before the cases were filed, she got financial support from the company which was worded allegedly as “for my long service, like I’m an employee and not the owner” but that this has since stopped.

Jonathan for his part said that his role is to simply support his mom and “if Mommy wants a reconciliation, I’m all for that, and if she wants to file cases, I will support her also as I promised to stand by her decisions.”

A “distraught” mother can only ask tearfully why this is happening to her. “I tried my best to be a good mother, raising three successful sons who can be assured that all that I and their father have worked for will be more than enough to provided for them and our grandchildren.”

She added that she couldn’t understand where she went wrong as a mother and somehow blamed her decision way back when all she wanted was “to be a housewife and mom, but my husband needed help.”

She also felt bad for not following her plans of setting aside savings for her old age now that she finds herself with very little, cancelling her subsequent treatments and check-ups in Singapore as a breast cancer survivor.

“I did tell my husband to save up but he told me why so when I own NGP,” Mrs. Lo said, not foreseeing the mess their family is into now.

But all is not naught for the Lo family as the mother really wishes for a reconciliation among her and the three sons, at least before she dies. “All it takes is a hug and respect and for us to be together again as a family,” she said.

Before the press conference, I had a chance meeting with Ian at L’Fisher hotel the night before and I asked him if there is willingness on his part to reconcile which I also asked Mrs. Lo afterwards.

The matriarch said yes but asked me who should make the first move to which I replied, it has to be your two sons. I may not be privy to everything that occurred which resulted to this mess, but my reply stems from the simple premise that no matter what, as children, we accord respect and unconditional love to our mothers who bore us into this world and swallow our pride we must.

There is a good read written by Megan Smith that I was sent recently and the title says it all, “my parents didn’t hand me everything and I am a better person for that.” Perhaps, children of feuding family should make this a must-read as guidance.*

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