Fernando Lopez was a public servant of untarnished reputation and record of performance. Born on April 13, 1904 in Jaro, Iloilo to Benito Lopez and Presentacion Hofilena, Lopez was a descendant of Graciano Lopez-Jaena.
Lopez finished high school at the San Juan de Letran in 1921, obtained his bachelor of laws degree at the University of Santo Tomas in 1925, and earned a rating of 84.4 % in the bar examinations.
He then helped his older brother Eugenio manage a chain of Lopez enterprises. At the same time, he pursued his interests in journalism and education. He was one of the founders of Iloilo College and the Feati University in Manila and became president of Iloilo College when it evolved into a university. Before the war, the Lopezes owned the Iloilo Negros Air Express Company, the first airline company in the country and a newspaper, the Iloilo Times. They acquired the Manila Chronicle after the war.
In 1945, Lopez was picked by President Osmeña to be mayor of Iloilo City. In 1947, he ran as senator under the Liberal Party and won. He then became vice president and concurrently, secretary of agriculture, from 1949-53 when Elpidio Quirino emerged as president. In his three terms as a senator, he authored or co-authored more than 200 legislative measures, many of which became laws, like the public land act, those on the Philippine Veterans Bank and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines. He was responsible for amending C.A. 186, to allow the voluntary retirement of government personnel after rendering 15 years of service, as well as Articles 340 and 341 of the Revised Penal Code, to impose heavier penalties for the crimes of corruption of minors and trafficking in white slavery. He also exposed the immigration quota racket and other forms of graft and corruption in the government.
Later, he became disenchanted with the LP and formed the Democratic Party with General Carlos P. Romulo. For the second time in 1965, he won as vice-president and served concurrently as secretary of agriculture and natural resources under President Ferdinand Marcos.
When President Marcos activated the Rice and Corn Production Coordinating Council in 1966, Lopez, who served as its chairman, was dubbed "rice czar." Under him, the council used IR-18, a high-yielding rice variety also known as "miracle rice" to boost rice production. The program was a huge success, recording a harvest of up to 273 cavans per hectare compared to the national average of 29.8 cavans per hectare.
Lopez resigned in 1971 and turned into a major opposition critic when his older brother Eugenio got into disagreement with President Marcos. After Marcos declared martial law the following year, his plan to run for the presidency in 1973 was consequently scuttled. Marcos and his cronies grabbed the Lopez business enterprises and had Eugenio imprisoned.
After the Edsa Revolution of February 1986 that swept Marcos from the presidency, the Lopezes regained Meralco, ABS-CBN and the Manila Chronicle.
Lopez also briefly served as adviser on development affairs of President Fidel Ramos.
He died on May 26, 1993. He was married to Mariquit Javellana on May 27, 1924. They had six children.