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25 most influential business leaders in the Philippines |

Sunday Lifestyle

25 most influential business leaders in the Philippines

WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores -

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. — Winston Churchill

Who are the businessmen — entrepreneurs and top executives — whose enterprises and personal efforts have the most positive influence on Philippine socio-economic progress?  We admire them not so much due to their wealth, but more on how they build and manage enterprises, innovate, take huge risks and in the process create more jobs and add to national wealth.

Manuel V. Pangilinan

1.  Manuel V Pangilinan — MVP is the undisputed “Telecom King” and also now “Sports Czar” of the Philippines as the No. 1 patron of sports. A former investment banker, this Ateneo economics cum laude and Wharton MBA graduate is a badminton-playing workaholic. He is boss of multinational First Pacific Group as well as Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), Smart Communications, Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), Maynilad Water Services Inc., Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Medical Doctors Inc., TV5, etc. He told this writer that he is concerned about Philippine economic development and sports. Through his MVP Sports Foundation, he now provides money and logistical support to boxing, cycling, basketball, football, taekwondo, badminton, tennis and running sports associations. Some people are urging the 65-year-old MVP to someday run for president of the Philippines.

Ramon S. Ang

2.  Ramon S. Ang — This hardworking and gutsy business whiz is so bullish about investing in big companies and big projects in the Philippines. Educated as an engineer, the 57-year-old RSA is president of Southeast Asia’s biggest beer and food conglomerate San Miguel Corp., which has grown and diversified in breathtaking speed and scope under his stewardship. He is also boss of biggest oil refiner Petron and many other firms. He has the complete trust of tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., with whom he shares a passion for cars. Fluent in Hokkien and Mandarin, he told this writer that any big government project that can help the Philippine economy, San Miguel is interested to bid and invest in. Ramon Ang is generous in philanthropy and wants to build up San Miguel as a world-class conglomerate. Roberto Ongpin said of RSA: “The guy works 18 hours a day!”

3. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala — Chairman of the board of directors of Ayala Corporation, Globe Telecom, Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Integrated Micro-electronics, Inc.; vice-chairman of Ayala Land, Inc. and Manila Water Co., Inc.; and co-vice-chairman of Ayala Foundation, Inc. etc., the 52-year-old JAZA is an economics cum laude graduate of Harvard and he also earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. His son is also studying at Harvard. In 2007, Harvard Business School gave him with its highest honor, the Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of “his innovative, entrepreneurial style of management.”  Zobel is active in various socio-civic causes, including chairman of the World Wildlife Fund

Brothers Jaime Augusto Zobel and Fernando Zobel

in the Philippines. In 2006, the Management Association of the Philippines gave JAZA its Management Man of the Year Award. Last year, he received the Asia Talent Management Award at the 9th CNBC Asia Business Leaders Awards held in Singapore. He is chairman of Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board and member of Harvard University Asia Center Advisory Committee. He is a member of the board of trustees of The Singapore Management University and Asian Institute of Management. At least once a year, he and his kin would ride adventure motorcycles in the back roads of foreign countries like Mexico or South Africa.

4. Fernando Zobel de Ayala — A disciplined tri-athlete and co-leader of the Ayala conglomerate, FZA studied a Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard University and completed an international management program at INSEAD in France. Zobel is chairman of top realty developer Ayala Land, Manila Water Co., Inc. as well as in the board of various Ayala Group corporations. He is a leader of the outstanding non-government organization Habitat for Humanity Philippines, which helps homeless people build their houses without any dole-outs.

Lucio C. Tan

5. Lucio C. Tan — This ascetic, frugal and workaholic self-made business taipan is boss of Philippine National Bank, Philippine Airlines, Asia Brewery, Allied Bank, Tanduay Holdings, Eton Properties, University of the East and many other firms. He built his wealth mainly with Fortune Tobacco, the Philippines’ top cigarette manufacturer, which he merged with Philip Morris International in 2010. Forbes magazine recently cited Lucio Tan as one of Asia’s top philanthropists, having been a generous donor to many educational, medical, cultural and other causes. His family has their philanthropic Tan Yan Kee Foundation named after his late father. Through the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), of which he is the chairman emeritus, Tan has donated many public schoolbuildings to poor rural barrios nationwide through FFCCCII’s unique “Operation: Barrio Schools” project.

6. Henry Sy — “Shopping Mall King” Henry Sy Sr. is a bold dreamer who has built a business empire which includes the world’s second and third largest malls, the SM North Edsa and SM Mall of Asia. A hardworking, visionary and simple-living immigrant “rags-to-riches” taipan, he started out as a humble shoe retailer in Manila’s old Carriedo area with Shoe Mart. Today, his SM Group is not only No. 1 leader in shopping malls and department stores, but also in movie cinemas and the only Philippine theatre chain with IMAX 3D technology, supermarkets, banking with BDO universal bank and China Banking Corp., condominiums with SM Development Corp. He and wife Felicidad Tan Sy trained their children well, with no disobedient or spoiled brats but all working very hard — Teresita or Tessie, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert and Harley. He says, “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always believed in doing my best, that one should aspire to be No. 1. Our businesses also help promote socio-economic progress.”

John Gokongwei, Jr. and son Lance Gokongwei

7. John Gokongwei, Jr. — One of the smartest entrepreneurs in Philippine business history, the well-read, simple-living, workaholic and strategic thinking self-made Gokongwei built a conglomerate which now includes the country’s biggest airline Cebu Pacific Air, developer Robinsons Land, food factories such as the No. 1 snack food brand Jack n’ Jill, power plants, malls, petrochemicals and others. The “rags-to-riches” 85-year-old taipan and his wife Elizabeth Yu-Gokongwei raised their children well as humble, obedient and hardworking — Lance is president of JG Summit Holdings, Robina helps run the retail businesses, Lisa has built up Summit Media with bestselling and trendsetting magazines, twins Faith and Hope as well as Marcia work in other family businesses. Gokongwei’s youngest brother Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate James Go is chairman of JG Summit Holdings. Their family has the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation for their socio-civic endeavors, like donations to the Ateneo de Manila University’s Gokongwei School of Management and to De La Salle University.

Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. with wife Gretchen

8. Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. — Known as “Danding” or “Boss,” this strong-willed, bold and street smart tycoon is chairman and CEO of San Miguel Corp., head of numerous corporations and a pioneer in modern agriculture ventures. Despite being scion of a rich and landed clan, Danding’s father died young, so he started working in high school, studied the then non-fashionable course of agriculture and learned the ropes of business as a youth. Under his visionary leadership and with his trusted protégé Ramon Ang, San Miguel has undergone the most extensive diversification, transformation and rapid expansion in its 121 years history. A former ambassador and governor of Tarlac, Cojuangco is a major patron of sports like basketball since the 1980s, generous supporter to diverse charities and is an internationally noted horse breeding and racing aficionado. His wife Gretchen Cojuangco is a respected philanthropist.

Tony Tan Caktiong

9. Tony Tan Caktiong — The self-made and diligent entrepreneur in 1978 started Jollibee originally as a Cubao ice cream parlor that served the pioneering concept of Filipino-taste hamburgers. It has become the Philippines’ biggest, most popular and iconic fast-food restaurant chain with branches expanding worldwide. He and his siblings have since added such brands as Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and even other fastfood businesses in booming China. A chemical engineering graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Tan has the distinction of being the only Philippine tycoon to have won the prestigious international “Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2004 in Monte Carlo. Tan also won Management Man of the Year Award by the Management Association of the Philippines in 2002 and the Agora Award for Outstanding Marketing Achievement from the Philippine Marketing Association in 1986.

Andrew Tan and son Kevin Tan

10. Andrew Tan — A brilliant self-made taipan and boss of listed Alliance Global Group, Inc., Andrew Tan built his fortune in real estate with Megaworld condominiums and master-planned townships. He controls Emperador Distillers, Inc., the world’s largest-selling brandy by volume. He told me he built this brand “without resorting to the usual sexy advertisements of liquor products but highlighting the theme of success.” A magna cum laude BSBA graduate of the University of the East, Tan is also the visionary behind such trendsetting ventures as the nine-hectare Resorts World Manila, the 16-hectare Eastwood City and McKinley Hill in Taguig City. He is also into the food with 49 percent equity in the McDonald’s fastfood chain in the Philippines and also in the power business. His business empire now has P180 billion in total assets and 16,000 employees. His brilliant and hardworking 31-year-old son, Megaworld first vice president Kevin Tan, is actively helping him run their fast-growing mall and commercial retail businesses. Last year, their Eastwood Mall won as “Shopping Center of the Year” from the Philippine Retailers Association. Megaworld is the first Filipino property developer to be ISO 9000-certified. The Tan family also has the Megaworld Foundation for their socio-civic causes like educational scholarships.

Roberto Ongpin

11. Roberto Ongpin — One of the most aggressive players in Philippine big business mega deals is this brilliant 74-year-old Ateneo/Harvard-trained technocrat, former chairman of SGV Group and former trade and industry minister of the Marcos era. Bobby Ongpin once recounted to this writer his fascinating feat of preventing the collapse of the Philippine economy after the 1983 Ninoy Aquino assassination by partnering with black market currency traders of the so-called “Binondo Central Bank.” Ongpin’s investor group is involved in diverse businesses, from realty developer Alphaland, mining, gaming, telecom to its recent winning bid to buy Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom). A trusted business ally of Malaysian taipan Robert Kuok Hock Nien of the Shangri-la Group, Ongpin has been invited to become deputy chairman of Hong Kong’s leading South China Morning Post

Oscar Lopez

12. Oscar M. Lopez — Despite relinquishing control of the clan’s former crown jewel Meralco to MVP, the 81-year-old OML’s family still retains 6.7% shareholdings there and also owns several power plants. He is chairman emeritus of the Lopez conglomerate with interests in power, mass media, telecom (Bayantel), realty (Rockwell Land plus huge industrial estates), etc. The Harvard-educated Lopez is the clan’s historian, loves books and has tested his sturdy physique by climbing famous mountains in the Philippines and Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia. Instead of using the elevator, he climbs the stairs every morning to his sixth floor office in Benpres Building in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. His son 50-year-old Federico “Piki” Lopez succeeded him as chairman of power-generation firm First Philippine Holdings Corp. and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. His daughter  Rina Lopez Bautista is the idealistic prime-mover of the Knowledge Channel, which uses TV to help public schools nationwide.

13. Eugenio Lopez III — Gabby Lopez is the Harvard-trained chairman and CEO of the Lopez conglomerate’s highly profitable ABS-CBN, the tri-media conglomerate with TV, cable and radio stations of ABS-CBN 2, the country’s top film producer Star Cinema, and ABS-CBN Publishing. Under his innovative leadership, ABS-CBN has become one of the country’s best-managed firms. He is the eldest son of the late Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr., a nephew of Oscar Lopez and Philippine envoy to Japan, Ambassador Manuel Lopez.

Twins Alfredo Ramos and Benjamin Ramos

14. Alfredo Ramos and Benjamin Ramos — The twin brothers are titans in diverse businesses such as the country’s largest books and stationery retailer National Book Store chain, PowerBooks, mining, realty development, book publishing and magazine publishing. A passionate advocate for the responsible development of the Philippines’ natural resources, Fred Ramos recently reaped profits by selling stocks in the country’s biggest copper mining firm Atlas Mining to Henry Sy’s SM Group. He is also a leader in redevelopment of the country’s oil fields through Philodrill Corp. Benjamin Ramos and sister Cecilia Ramos-Licauco continue the entrepreneurial zeal of their self-made and iconic businesswoman mother Socorro C. Ramos, winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneyr of the Year Award for the Philippines.

Alfonso Yuchengco

15. Alfonso Yuchengco — One of the most successful business and civic leaders of the Philippines, the taipan built up his family’s wealth into multiples of its original size. He led Malayan Insurance Group to become a leader and boldly diversified the Yuchengco Group into new ventures like Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), Bankard, Inc., Grepalife Financial, Inc., Mapua Institute of Technology, EEI Corp.  and others. As philanthropist and diplomat, Yuchengco has served with distinction as former Philippine ambassador to China, Japan and the United Nations. His children led by Helen Yuchengco-Dee help him ably run the family businesses. He has been conferred honorary doctorate degrees by Japan’s prestigious Waseda University and also by his alma mater De La Salle University. In the field of corporate citizenship, Yuchengco has established the philanthropic AY Foundation and the Yuchengco Museum.

George S.K.Ty

16. George S. K. Ty — A respected banking and civic leader, this workaholic and disciplined taipan successfully built up a small bank into the Metrobank Group which includes dynamic Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank), Toyota Motor Philippines, Federal Land and many other companies. Through his family’s award-winning Metrobank Foundation, he supports the arts, education, public health endeavors like the Manila Doctors Hospital and other socio-civic causes. He and his wife Mary Ty have trained their sons Arthur and Alfred very well as obedient and hardworking businessmen now helping run their diverse corporations. George S. K. Ty received the Management Man of the Year Award in 2006 from the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP),

Manuel “Manny” Villar

17. Manuel “Manny” Villar, Jr. — This driven self-made billionaire and dynamic leader from Tondo, Manila learned the basics of rugged entrepreneurship in Divisoria where his mother used to sell fish in the wet market. He has accounting and MBA degrees from University of the Philippines. A former employee of SGV, Villar has become one of the country’s biggest realty developers with successful listed firms Vista Land & Lifescapes and Polar Property Holdings. He and wife Cynthia have trained their diligent and humble kids very well, Paolo, Mark and Camille. One of Villar’s exciting new projects is his vision of a sprawling “University Town” in the Las Piñas-Cavite area with top schools and supported by his Villar Foundation.

Enrique Razon, Jr.

18. Enrique Razon, Jr. — The 51-year-old billionaire Ricky Razon is big boss of listed International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), which Forbes magazine has described as “one of the world’s five largest port operators.” ICTSI operates container ports in many countries worldwide from China, Europe, North America to Latin America. Despite formerly owning a newspaper, which he sold last year, Razon is media-shy. In June this year, Razon personally toured P-Noy in the Brunei port which ICTSI operates.

Andrew Gotianun

19.  Andrew Gotianun — A respected business leader whose father died when he was only 20 years old, Andrew Gotianun became the head of his family early. In the 1950s, he and his wife Mercedes Tan Gotianun used borrowed money to go into the second-hand car financing business through Filinvest Credit Corp. They later also went into banking with Family Bank and Trust Co., which they built up into a giant in the 1970s and sold to Bank of the Philippine Islands. Entering the real estate business in the 1980s, the hardworking husband and wife team built up Filinvest Land into one of the country’s biggest developers. In 1994, the family returned to banking by establishing East West Banking Corp. Filinvest Group is also in electric power plants and other ventures.

Jon Ramon Aboitiz

20. Jon Ramon Aboitiz — He is the humble, good-humored and progressive-thinking patriarch of Cebu’s entrepreneurial Aboitiz clan. He is chairman of their listed holding firm Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., which has emerged in recent tears as a leader in the electric power industry. His cohesive family controls Union Bank of the Philippines, Pilmico Foods Corp., partner with a Japanese shipbuilding firm in the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu), Inc., is in real estate with AboitizLand and is partner in the country’s top luxury resort Amanpulo in Palawan. His family has the Aboitiz Foundation and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation for their socio-civic causes.

Felipe Gozun

21. Felipe Gozon — A graduate of law at the University of the Philippines and masters of law degree from Yale University, Atty. Gozon said he learned from the frugal example of his late grandmother in running GMA 7 in a cost-efficient way. Under his leadership, GMA Network, Inc. grew in revenues, record profits and ratings. He is an aggressive and hands-on executive who monitors daily TV shows’ ratings and advertising sales revenues. His network has the GMA Kapuso Foundation, which is a leader in philanthropy. In 2005, he was honored with the Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Bienvenido Tantoco Sr.(center) with (from left)Marilen Tantoco, Marilou Tantoco-Pineda, Maritess Tantoco-Enriquez,Nedy Tantoco, Menchu Tantoco-Lopez, and Rico Tantoco.

22. Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. — “King of Luxury Retailing,” the 90-year-old patriarch co-founded with his late wife Gliceria and he heads the successful Rustan’s group of companies which includes the Philippine franchises of such global brands as Starbucks and Marks & Spencer. He pioneered the hypermart business concept with Shopwise. The businesses are now run by his six children — Maria Elena “Marilen” Tantoco, director, Rustan Group of Companies; Maria Lourdes “Marilou” Tantoco-Pineda, director, Rustan Group of Companies; Maria Teresa “Maritess” Tantoco-Enriquez, director, Rustan Group of Companies; Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco, president, Stores Specialists, Inc. and president, Rustan Commercial Corporation; Carmencita “Menchu” Tantoco-Lopez, EVP, Rustan Coffee Corporation; and only son Bienvenido “Rico” Tantoco Jr., chairman, Rustan Supercenters, Inc. and president, Sta. Elena Properties. His grandchildren like Donnie Tantoco and Anton T. Huang are active in the family businesses. He is former Philippine ambassador to the Vatican and to the Sovereign Military Order of Saint John, Rhodes and Malta.

David Consunji and son Isidro Consunji

23. David M. Consunji and Felipe F. Cruz — A UP-educated civil engineer and former secretary of public works, transportation & communications in the Marcos era, self-made tycoon Consunji built up DMCI into a leading contractor and top realty developer. His firm D. M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) built many landmark projects like the Brunei Sultan’s royal palace, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Ayala Triangle Tower I, Citibank, Equitable Bank, BPI, Shangri-la’s Mactan, Shangri-la Makati, Sofitel Manila, Manila Hotel, Hyatt Hotel, SM Megamall, Glorietta 4, Alabang Town Center, Rockwell  condos and others. His family also controls the country’s largest coal-producing firm Semirara Mining, is a partner in Maynilad Water with Manny Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific and active in the power business. His son Isidro “Sid” Consunji runs his businesses. Self-made magnate Felipe F. Cruz is founder of competitor top contractor F. F. Cruz & Co., Inc., which is run by his son Philip Cruz. FF Cruz built airports, piers, dams,skyways, and bridges, while Philip constructed buildings and condominiums. Coincidentally, the wives of the two construction tycoons David Consunji and F. F. Cruz — Fredesvinda Almeda-Consunji and Angelita Almeda-Consunji — are sisters.

Robert Coyiuto Jr.

24. Robert G. Coyiuto, Jr. — Although his father, the late businessman Robert Coyiuto Sr., died young, Robert Jr. led his family to build up their non-life insurer Prudential Guarantee & Assurance, Inc. to become a leader in the industry.  He is president of Oriental Petroleum, president of PGA Sompo Japan Insurance, vice-chairman of First Guarantee Life Assurance Co., Inc., chairman of the philanthropic Coyiuto Foundation. He has excelled in the luxury cars business as exclusive Philippine distributor of great brands Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini.

25. Jose “Joey” Concepcion III — La Salle-educated Joey is the grandson of two business titans and philanthropists —

Jose “Joey” Concepcion III
Jose Concepcion Sr. and Salvador Araneta. Apart from being president of RFM Corporation and chairman of RFM Unilever Ice Cream, Inc., the 53-year-old Concepcion is busy with his civic cause, the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship or “Go Negosyo,” which hopes to encourage more people to start their own businesses as entrepreneurs. Concepcion’s Go Negosyo was recently cited by Forbes magazine in its feature on heroes of philanthropy. Among his honors include being cited Time Global 100 List of Young Leaders for the Millennium 1994 and Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) 1995.  


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