The recent joint exhibition of the rare map collections of the Ortigas Library and the Lopez Museum and Library recalls the lives of two Filipino gentlemen, rarefied in this society, having developed the most significant collection of Filipiniana books, prints, maps, photographs, and paintings in the 20thcentury. Eugenio Lopez (1901 – 1975) and Rafael Ortigas (1937 – 2009) though a generation apart, had the same goal of building a library to make available to researchers and the public the vast amount of material, many very rare and costly, purchased or won in auctions throughout the world.
Being the earlier collector, the industrialist Mr. Lopez, after World War II doggedly pursued, or through his agents, all leads on maps in antiquarian bookstores in Amsterdam, London, and New York. And, since being the first to take an interest in the Philippines, secured many precious works handily and at reasonable prices. In the early 70s when I started collecting Filipiniana, I would go to map stores in London and New York to ask for maps. More often I received a smile and and an apology, for a “Mr. Lopez” years back had taken all of them.