A homage to Bong Tan

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Around this time a few years ago – Valentine’s Day to be exact –  I sat down with Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., the late maverick tycoon and sportsman, to talk about some of his businesses. 

Bong, son and namesake of taipan Lucio Tan, called for the meeting because he wanted to share with me some updates on the companies under his leadership. When he was done, the conversation turned to one of his favorite topics – sports. 

When talking about sports, Bong could go on and on. He has anecdotes about famous basketball players and knows a lot about other sports, too.

He encouraged me to swim, saying that it was much better than running. Running, he said, can put one’s knees at risk. Instead of running, it’s also better to do just brisk walking, he said.

Swimming, on the other hand, gives your body a full workout without putting your knees at risk. He could swim 50 laps a day, he said with pride. 

How about golf? Do you play golf, too? I asked him. Sure, he said but quickly added that his brother Michael is the better golfer. 

The baller

But in the basketball court, it is he who rules, he jested. 

Anyone who knows Bong of course knows that he is as much a tycoon as he is a sportsman. He died days after collapsing in a basketball game. At the time of his death last year, he was head coach of the UE Red Warriors, the collegiate basketball team of the Tan-owned University of the East. 

He was an avid basketball player and patron. 

Lucio ‘Bong’ K. Tan Jr. Sports Complex

It is therefore fitting for Lufthansa Technik Philippines Inc. (LTP) to pay homage to Bong by unveiling the Lucio “Bong” K. Tan Jr. Sports Complex, located inside the LTP compound in Villamor Airbase in Pasay. LTP, an aircraft maintenance services provider, is a joint venture between Lufthansa Technik AG and Lucio Tan-owned MacroAsia Corp.

The sports complex is open to employees for their recreational programs and games.

I first heard about the project from Bong’s beautiful wife Julie, who is now spending a great deal of time in Manila to guide their son Lucio “Hun” Tan III, who is now the president and COO of Tanduay Distillers, succeeding his father.

Julie, who was based in the US where their children grew up and studied, said Bong cared so much for the employees of his father’s companies.

She said it was very touching to learn how well-loved Bong was by the employees, most especially the employees of Tanduay.

At the time I talked to Julie last month, she said the sports complex would be unveiled soon.

That day finally came on Feb. 5.

It was a simple unveiling ceremony. In his acceptance speech,  Lucio Tan III thanked LTP on behalf of the family. 

He said the family is very thankful for naming the sports complex after his father. 

His father loved sports as much as he loved the employees of their companies, the young Tan said.

Hun also said that his father would always tell him that employees are the backbone of a successful company.

The sports complex is also open for exhibition and friendly games between LTP employees and clients. 

It has one basketball court which may also be used for volleyball and badminton tournaments. Beside the court is a fitness center with two locker rooms, table tennis, a darts area, and a gym.

 Wherever he may be, Bong I’m sure, is very happy to see that Lufthansa and MacroAsia employees have a place where they can stay active in sports, whether they’re just shooting hoops for fun or playing competitive basketball games.

Indeed, Bong’s legacy -- in business and in sports  -- lives on.

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

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