Lucio Tan III vows to continue late dad’s legacy
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2019 - 12:00am

At the young age of 27, US-based and Stanford-educated engineering whiz kid Lucio “Hun Hun” Tan III,  has been thrust into the limelight following the sudden death of his father Lucio “Bong” Tan II.

Hun Hun, it seems, may have to leave his life in the US to fill some of his dad’s roles in taipan Lucio Tan's sprawling empire here.

He has been named president of Two Degrees Inc., the company behind Bong’s reforestation program, the Green Canopy Project, which aims to plant 12 million trees in different parts of the country.

On Saturday at the Tan-owned Absolut Distillers’ property in Batangas, Hun Hun led the launch of the project and a ceremonial tree planting activity, which is in partnership with Allianz PNB and Absolut.

I learned about this from Gerry Tee, head of distillery operations of the Lucio Tan Group who told me that the event was a success and that it was indeed led by the young Tan.

Hun Hun vowed to continue the legacy of his father.

“Rest assured, I intend to continue my father’s green advocacy and other efforts that promote sustainability. I believe in impact investing. I believe that environmental consciousness should be adopted in every level of the business in order to secure future stability,” he said in his speech.

Bong must be so proud. His son not only takes after his brilliance and good looks, but also his love for the environment as well.

Tanduay

Will Hun Hun have other roles in the empire? Gerry says the young Tan will also take his father’s place as director of Absolut.

How about Tanduay Distillers, a company Bong is truly proud of? 

I still remember how excited Bong was when he shared with me the news that Tanduay rum is now the world's number one rum, dislodging Puerto Rican brand Bacardi from the top post.

The buzz in the grapevine said the taipan would indeed put his grandson in charge of Tanduay, but the company has not made any announcement on this.

There are also many other roles to fill.

Bong was vice-chairman and director of Philippine Airlines, president of PAL Holdings Inc. and director and president of Eton Properties.

He was also a director in many Tan-owned companies such as Philippine National Bank, MacroAsia Corp., Victorias Milling, PMFTC and LT Group.

In a separate disclosure on Friday, PNB announced that Bong’s sister Sheila Tan-Pascual will be its new board director, taking his place.

Kapitan’s empire is expected to make more announcements in the coming weeks.

It’s going to be tough for the young Hun Hun, but with his educational background, I'm sure he will rise to the occasion whatever role he will be given.

Like father, like son

Like his father, the young Hun Hun also studied engineering.

He finished Electrical Engineering at the Stanford University in 2015, graduating with the Frederick Terman Award, an academic accolade given to Stanford seniors who were at the top five percent of their class.

He also has a Master of Science degree in Computer Science and an MBA.

Of course, like his father, Hun Hun will face challenges along the way. It's no secret that his grandfather’s conglomerate is complicated, with many companies and many players.

But I’m sure Bong – who traveled frequently to the US to visit his family – trained Hun Hun well for life outside school, be it in chaotic Manila or in the family empire.

Vapers are up in arms

Speaking of Tan’s conglomerate, I wonder how it would be affected by the crackdown on e-cigarettes.

PMFTC which is a partnership between Philip Morris and Tan’s Fortune Tobacco, is the country’s top cigarette company, with plans to bring the IQOS to the Philippines in the future.

The IQOS, though, is not a vape, but a heated tobacco stick. 

How about the highly popular JUUL which the Gokongwei group brought to the Philippines?

What is clear for now is that the e-cigarette groups are not happy.

They are calling for proper regulation instead of an outright ban.

“Regulation is the best way to address concerns on e-cigarettes. Although not risk-free, e-cigarettes are still a much better alternatives to cigarettes,” the Philippine E-cigarette Industry Association said in a statement.

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) added that a ban on vaping would only worsen smoking  in the Philippines.

“The use of e-cigarettes has been helping millions of smokers quit all over the world,” it said.

With the ban, health authorities may indeed be missing out on the opportunity to help smokers quit nicotine or shift to less harmful alternatives.

No legal basis

But more than that, my concern really is how the authorities can just implement a ban without any legal basis.

Isn’t this a total mockery of our Constitution?  Authorities can’t just arrest – even just for a police blotter – vape users without legal basis. More than the actual ban, this is the bigger issue. If we allow this to happen, the government may arrest us for just about anything under the sun.

It is audacious and it is wrong, and we shouldn’t let this issue get lost in the cloud of vapor.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com.

LUCIO “HUN HUN” TAN III
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