Lifestyle Business

Many billionaires are still missing from the Forbes list

BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star

There is no substitute for hard work.  —Thomas Edison

If you can’t excel with talent, triumph with effort.  — Stephen G. Weinbaum

Recently, I asked Malayan Insurance Co., Inc. president Yvonne S. Yuchengco what the success secrets of their family businesses were through the ups and downs of Philippine history, from World War II to today’s political and economic upheavals.

She replied: “Hard work, good connections with people in the business community, hands-on management and being professional. Our family members work hard.”

When I asked for details about their work ethic, Yuchengco cited her eldest sister Helen Yuchengco Dee, the head of their family’s Yuchengco Group of Companies and chairman of the country’s fifth biggest bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), for working in the office “up to Sunday.”  She also added, “She can decide very fast; she’s very good at numbers.”

How did their father, business leader Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco, train them to go into business? Yvonne said, “He made us sit down at his meetings to take down notes, even when we did not understand. This was right after college. This was good training, that’s why I always encourage people in the company to learn how to listen and take down notes.”

Another success secret of the Yuchengco Group is its patriarch Alfonso Yuchengco traveling overseas in his youth, thus learning new ideas and trends, and acquiring international business connections with foreign firms such as Tokyo Marine, with which their Malayan Insurance will celebrate their 50th anniversary of partnership next year.

• The annual Forbes magazine list of the Philippines’ wealthiest people has finally updated their roster for better accuracy, by adding several names we have been pointing out in recent years as conspicuously missing before, such as the Jorge Araneta family of Cubao prime real estate in Quezon City, Carlos Chan of Oishi snacks, Michael “Mikee” Romero of Harbor Center, San Miguel Corp. boss Ramon Ang, Century Properties founder Jose “Joey” Antonio, Rebisco and Asia United Bank boss Jacinto “Jack” Ng, Zest-O founder Alfredo “Fred” Yao and PLDT/Meralco boss Manny V. Pangilinan.

The brilliant 49-year-old Cornell-educated Eric O. Recto is a good addition to the list and I heard he is a wise investor in real estate.

Another good addition is port operator and sportsman Mikee Romero. Not many people know that Mikee has accumulated perhaps the Philippines’ biggest collection of Fernando Amorsolo paintings, more than even our National Museum and other government agencies combined.

However, up to now, there are still numerous billionaires conspicuously missing from this incomplete list, such as these names:

• The Ortigas family — owners of Greenhills Commercial Center, vast prime real estate

• Heirs of the late Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal Collantes — Susana Madrigal Eduque (sister of former Senator Jamby Madrigal), Atty. Gizela “Ging” M. Gonzalez-Montinola (wife of former BPI president Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III; and Vicente P. Gustav Warns. This year President Noynoy Aquino reappointed Gizela Gonzalez-Montinola as a member of the University of the Philippines’ Board of Regents.

• Jose L. Acuzar — 58-year-old developer, antique house collector, founder of New San Jose Builders and owner of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan.

• Manny Pacquiao — his Forbes Park mansion alone in Makati is already worth over half a billion pesos.

• Roxas family of sugar milling — cousins of the Zobel-Ayalas and the Sorianos

• Fred J. Elizalde — The 72-year-old “Radio King” of the Philippines is more famous as husband of Russia-educated top prima ballerina Lisa Macuja Elizalde. Few people know that broadcast billionaire Fred is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University.

• The Lhuilliers — The two brothers of their respective Lhuillier pawnshop chains are reputedly the largest in the world in terms of number of branches. 

• Ben Tiu’s family — The Discovery hotel chain, iRemit, TKC Steel, Sterling Bank of Asia, and others.

• Imelda Cojuangco and son Antonio “Tony Boy” Cojuangco — They got a fortune by selling control of PLDT to the First Pacific Group. Tony Boy and girlfriend Gretchen Barretto were recent special guests at the opening of the new Naci resto at 7th Avenue corner 30th St., Bonifacio Global City owned by Naci Nocom, Chevrolet Otis Manila dealer Milton Ngu, and their investor, the entrepreneurial model Natasha Villaroman.

• George Yang — McDonald’s, real estate and husband of talented jeweler Kristine Sy-Yang

• The Tambunting family — Planters Development Bank, the oldest Tambunting pawnshop chain

• The Gaisano family — Visayas and Mindanao retail chains and malls 

• The Concepcion family — RFM, real estate

• Antonio Cabangon Chua — insurance, real estate, radio stations and publishing

• The Roxas family — devout Christian developers behind Cityland, with their buildings often emblazoned with the slogan “In God we trust.”

• The Lee family — owners of Anchor Land, well-known for Chinatown condominiums. They are planning to open a big restaurant in Manila.

• Dr. Vicki Belo — Marketing whiz who owns the Belo and Flawless beauty chains

• Vilma Santos Recto — showbiz celebrity who wisely invests; her former house in Magallanes Village in Makati is now rented out to the Ocampo family, who runs it as a high-end private gourmet dining place.

• Susan Roces — movie queen with lots of solid real estate investments, plus the movie library of her late husband Fernando Poe Jr., worth billions of pesos just in rental incomes from TV rights.

• Amalia Fuentes — One of the richest showbiz celebrities, with valuable real estate holdings from Quezon City to Makati to Alabang

• Mother Lily Y. Monteverde — owner of Imperial Palace Suites Hotel in Quezon City, various prime real estate properties from San Juan to Tagaytay, and the extensive Regal Films library estimated to be worth billions of pesos. 

• Jose “Pepito” Chavez Alvarez — former logging tycoon, now governor of Palawan province, billionaire vehicle magnate, real estate.

* * *

Congratulations to Cebu business leader and Chinese community philanthropist Joseph Sy Gaisano on the Aug. 4 wedding of his only son, Joseph Davidson “Joey” Gaisano Jr., to Gay Audille C. Ang. Although younger than I am, Joey was my former classmate in special Mandarin language and economics classes at Beijing’s Peking University (this institution was allowed to retain its pre-communist era spelling “Peking” due to its being one of Asia’s best schools — considered the Harvard of China).

* * *

There are quite a number of world-class Filipino executives excelling in the international hotel industry. One of them is Bangkok-born and Canada-educated Arthur Gingap, who is regional general manager of Singapore’s The Ascott Limited. He is in charge of all the Ascott, Somerset and Citadines brands of serviced apartments and hotels in the Philippines and Thailand.

Both Gindap and Ascott International Management sales and marketing director Joanne Golong-Gomez told the Philippine STAR that new properties will soon be opening in Makati, Ortigas Center and Alabang, which signify bullish sentiments. However, they said we in the Philippines should do more to woo increased foreign direct investments (FDIs) and encourage tourists to not just go to our beaches but also to appreciate Metro Manila.

When asked if their mother company, Singapore’s CapitaLand, will invest more in the Philippines, Gindap replied, “If the economy continues to grow fast, CapitaLand perhaps might find it attractive to enter the Philippines.”  CapitaLand’s Ascott Residence Trust in March 2007 bought the two buildings of the former Oakwood in Glorietta in Makati from the Ayala Group for P2.9 billion, and this luxury serviced apartments/hotel establishment has been doing brisk business ever since.

* * *

Congratulations to Association of Young Filipino Chinese Entrepreneurs (AYFCE) led by chairman Jeffrey Ng, president Jovenson Ong and executive vice president Reginald Yu for the recent dinner meeting with JG Summit Holdings president Lance Gokongwei as the eloquent guest speaker, with his elder sister Robina Gokongwei-Pe of Robinsons retail group joining as a resource speaker during the open forum. Another recent guest speaker was PLDT, TV5 and Meralco boss Manny V. Pangilinan.

* * *

Thanks for your feedback! E-mail [email protected] or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoonflourish.blogspot.com/.









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