Starweek Magazine

Ikigai: Living life’s Dr. George SK Ty purpose

The Philippine Star
Ikigai: Living lifeâs Dr. George SK Ty purpose

Dr. and Mrs. Ty (3rd and 4th from left) with the other 2017 awardees of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star. On the cover: Ty wears his Order of the Rising Sun medals. Behind him is one of his favorite paintings, Bayanihan by National Artist Botong Francisco.

MANILA, Philippines — A young man sits patiently in an outer office of the Central Bank of the Philippines, waiting to see the governor. He has been coming almost every week for the last five years or so. What does he want? To get permission to put up a bank.

With no experience whatsoever in banking, his determination and perseverance are surprising. You may ask, why? This was the exact question posed by the governor back then, Andres Castillo.

The young man’s answer: “I want to help people start businesses. I want to give money.”

That young man was George S.K. Ty. In 1961, he finally got his license and founded Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company. Thirty-two years later, Metrobank was recognized as the biggest bank in the country. In 2016, Metrobank was adjudged the Strongest Bank in the Philippines by The Asian Banker.

And with 2017 winding down, Ty was recognized by the Japanese government with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold And Silver Star.



Established in 1875, The Order of the Rising Sun is awarded by the Japanese government to persons who have made distinguished achievements in areas such as international relations, culture and the arts.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conferred the prestigious award on Ty last Nov. 7 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Emperor Akihito later received Ty together with this year’s other honorees and their wives.

Ty was cited for his efforts in strengthening Philippine-Japanese economic relations. In particular, he undertook landmark joint ventures with several Japanese companies in key sectors such as automotive (Toyota Motor Corporation), real estate development (Nomura Real Estate Development Co. Ltd.), investment banking, insurance (Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co.) and consumer finance (Toyota Financial Services Corporation of Japan).

One of these winning ventures is with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) of Japan. After the 1986 EDSA Revolution, Toyota wanted to return to the Philippine market – but only if Metrobank, with its rock-solid business reputation, would be its partner. Ty agreed, on condition that Toyota’s experienced management run day-to-day operations.

Now the largest automotive company in the country, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMPC) also ranks in the Top 10 of Toyota global sales. It was also hailed by the city government of Sta. Rosa, Laguna as the 2016 Top Taxpaying Manufacturer for its contribution to the city’s robust fiscal performance.

GT Capital Holdings, which is the majority shareholder in TMPC, is the Ty family’s main vehicle for facilitating the entry of foreign investments into the country. Incorporated in 2001, this major conglomerate has market-dominant businesses in vital high-growth sectors that drive the Philippine economy.

Other Japanese companies that have established joint venture agreements with GT Capital Holdings and the Metrobank Group include ORIX Corporation which, with Federal Land, built the Grand Midori condominium complex in Makati and soon in Ortigas; Mori Building Co., Ltd. which is responsible for the 101-story Shanghai World Financial Center; Sumitomo Corporation, one of the largest general trading companies worldwide; and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. which is building a Japanese-inspired mall and residential complex at BonifacioGlobal City in a joint venture with Federal Land and Nomura Real Estate.

When asked for the secret to successful partnerships, Ty cites four pillars – mutual respect, trust, transparency, and fairness. “With these four principles, you can’t go wrong in business,” he emphasizes.

Ty is also the founder and chairman of Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI), the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of the Metrobank Group. Guided by his philosophy that leadership in business implies leadership in community service, MBFI implements various programs in the areas of excellence recognition, education, healthcare, arts and culture, and disaster response.

A key Japanese concept encapsulates his thoughts on CSR – ikigai, the reason for being or one’s life purpose.

“For me, business is not just about reaching the pinnacle of success. It is about helping other people achieve their dreams. This is my ikigai, and I was fortunate to have found it early in my life,” he shares.

Wanting to really make an impact, Ty ensures that the concept of giving back is also applied by the rest of the companies under the GT Capital Holdings and the Metrobank Group. This is also the case for his family.

“My wife and I have made this our priority – raising our children to know that promoting the welfare of our fellow Filipinos is their ikigai too,” he says.

The Order of the Rising Sun is a milestone, one that reminds Ty to be grateful.

“The honor that I received belongs not only to me and my family, but to the Filipino nation and everyone who has contributed to my life and work,” he says.

He has nothing but admiration for Japan,which, despite having limited natural resources, propelled itself to the status of a stable First World democracy. This is a dream that he still has for our country.

George S.K. Ty may no longer be the young man camping out at a government office to get the license that he dreamt about, but his idealism and passion have remained the same.

“Banking is not merely the business of money, but is really the business of trust. A proper banker loves the business and protects the interests of people and serves the community,” he says.

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