Men of Legacy

John Gokongwei Jr. received the ASEAN Legacy Award from President Duterte, ASEAN BAC Phl chair Joey Concepcion and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez during the ASEAN Business Awards last Sept. 6, 2017.

The whole nation mourns the recent passing of a great pillar of the Philippine economy, John Gokongwei Jr. He was a leader who left a legacy that will live on in the hearts of many Filipinos whose lives he has helped change.

John Gokongwei Jr or Mr. John, as he was fondly called, was the founding father of JG Summit Holdings. A visionary and a philanthropist, Mr. John built his conglomerate from scratch, helping out other entrepreneurs along the way who were struggling. Through his intelligence and perseverance, he was able to provide for his mother and five siblings. He was the epitome of a great father and a mentor to his children, Lance, Robina, Lisa, Marcia, Faith and Hope, as they have continued and built upon his enduring legacy.

He lived a simple life yet inspired vision and corporate expertise that carried exceptional value. He launched numerous innovative ventures and have made a significant contribution to the country’s economic growth and development.

Last 2017, when I was the chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Mr. John was also recognized as one of the Legacy awardees during the ASEAN Business Awards. The award was in recognition of his contributions in shaping and strengthening the economies of different ASEAN nations. The countless job opportunities generated by his many business initiatives attest to the invaluable legacy that he will be leaving behind.

Just this year, we were also saddened by the passing of Henry ‘Tatang’ Sy Sr. Tatang was one of the country’s top businessmen and founder of the SM Group of companies. He was instrumental in helping many small entrepreneurs scale up by welcoming them into his shopping malls.

His presence and support in the early years of Go Negosyo has also greatly helped us. SM has been a dependable venue for many of Go Negosyo’s mentorship seminars, most especially our Mentor Me On Wheels, which was first launched in the SM Mall of Asia. Through the program, we see the active collaboration and mentorship between successful business owners and thousands of micro and small entrepreneurs. For his vast contributions in the many lives of Filipino entrepreneurs, Tatang was also recognized by Go Negosyo as a Big Brother of Filipino Entrepreneurs during a 2006 summit.

Dr. George Ty, who built a fortune out of banking and automotive manufacturing, died in the same year. Ty, just like Mr. John, and Tatang was a prime example of what determination and vision can do. A leader and a man of integrity, Dr. Ty had an incredible journey to success, a story that until now inspires many.

We are also in deep sorrow as we have received the news of Lucio “Bong” Tan’s demise. Bong, eldest son of Lucio Tan Sr., was the president of the airline operator PAL Holdings Inc. Bong had big shoes to fill but showed everybody he can lead the empire that his father had built. He took over the reigns in many of their family businesses. All the while, Bong kept his feet firmly planted on the ground, ever ready to offer a helping hand to anyone in need. Also a sportsman, Bong’s many achievements will never be lost in the business community as well as in the sports arena.

His younger brother, Michael, shared, “Man can make plans. But God sometimes has His own. They may not be the same. Let’s just be grateful for what we have. Bong and I grew up together. We studied in Singapore and Beijing and we had the best of times. Together we learned about life in and outside the classroom. We played games, won and lost together. He was a brother and a friend. He will be greatly missed.”

Throughout their lifetime, these men of vision received various accolades and citations for their leadership, accomplishments, and contributions in the growth of the economy. But the real measure of their legacy is the impact they have made in the minds of the small entrepreneurs. By helping build a better environment for Filipino entrepreneurs, they were also instrumental in our advocacy towards prosperity for all. Our deepest sympathies go out to their families and friends.