Ten richest people in the Philippines

Compared to the world’s richest men and even in surrounding Asian countries like India, Malaysia and Singapore, wealthiest Filipino men are the poorest in the listing of Forbes magazine. 

The country’s political and economic instability and the Philippine Stock Exchange's very small market capitalization mired the fortune and net worth of these people. In fact in the listing of Forbes Magazine’s world’s richest people, Philippine’s richest man, Henry Sy has only $4 billion net worth ranking him around 160th compared to Mukesh Ambani of India who is 4th richest man in the world with a net worth asset of $27 billion. 

Nevertheless, in great contrast to other billionaires in the Forbes’s list, Philippine’s wealthiest had the most fascinating rags-to-riches stories.
Here they are:

HENRY SY (net worth $4 billion) – a poor immigrant from China, Henry Sy came to the Philippine soil at the age of 13, shoeless. His family opened a small store in Cebu but the difficult time of World War II prompted the family to close it. Sy went to Manila and lived with the Chinese traders in Binondo where he put up a little shoemaking store. Later on this store grew up and named Shoe Mart which became SM today. 

Today, the retail business king has more than 30 shopping malls spread across the archipelago, four in China and one in Guam. Mall of Asia, which is listed as the world’s fifth largest mall, is dubbed by Sy’s eldest child, Teresita Sy-Coson as “his baby”, built on the site where Henry Sy used to bring his family at sunset to feel the soft breeze of the afternoon delight, the sprawling 4.1-square-foot mall is truly world class. 

In an interview of Forbes magazine, Coson revealed his father, who visited the mall every other day, dreamed to turn it into an Asian waterfront mecca just like Hongkong and Singapore where he would build hotels, convention center, outsourcing centers and condominiums. At 82, Henry Sy is still actively participating in the day-to-day activities of his business operations. SM Investments, the flagship of his business empire, is the country’s largest mall developer. While Banco de Oro is the country’s second largest bank next to BPI which is owned by the Ayalas.

LUCIO TAN ($2.3 billion) – Another tycoon who has a humble beginning, Lucio Tan is a poor immigrant from China. He studied Chemical Engineering at Far Eastern University as a working student but later transferred to the University of Sto. Tomas but he later dropped out to work full time at a tobacco factory which gave him an idea to put up his own tobacco company, Fortune Tobacco, in 1966. 

In 1977, he acquired a struggling government owned bank General Bank and Trust Company which he renamed Allied Bank. Today, his business ventures include Century Park Hotel, Tanduay Distillers, Philippine Airlines, MacroAsia Corp, hog-raising, infrastructures, finance, construction, real estate, transportation among others. His business flagship is Lucio Tan Group of Companies. He also owns almost 60% of Philippine National Bank. In 2010, it was reported that a possible merger of Allied Bank and PNB is being worked out and expected to be completed in the middle part of 2011.

JAIME ZOBEL DE AYALA ($2 billion) - His business flagship is Ayala Corporation, the country's oldest conglomerate dating back in 1834, he owns Ayala Lands, BPI, Manila Water Company, AG holdings, Integrated Microelectronics, Livelt Investments and Globe Telecomm. He finished his BA degre in Architectural Sciences at Harvard University. In the 1970s he served as Philippine Ambassador to England and Scandinavian countries in Europe. His son, Enrique Zobel de Ayala, succeeded him as CEO of Ayala Corporation in 2006.

EDUARDO COJUANCO, JR ($840 million) - The controversial billionaire, he chairs San Miguel Corporation, South East Asia's largest food and beverage company. Known as Danding, he was the former Philippine Ambassador and embroiled in many controversies involving the acquisition of Assets of San Miguel. He owns significant shares in Bank of Commerce, United Coconut Planters Bank and Del Monte Philippines. 

 He has numbers of Haciendas around the country and owns Gooree Stud at Mudgee, South Wales, Australia, a Thorough Breed horse racing and operation. He also commanded cargo ships around Russia and China seas and owns PBA teams San Miguel, Ginebra Kings and Derby Ace Llamados. 

Since the assassination of his cousin's husband, Ninoy Aquino in 1983, he became estranged to the Cojuanco and Aquino family, but in 2010 Philippine presidential election, he closes the communication gap and mended the family rift when he chose to support his nephew, Noynoy Aquino as President, the only son of Cory and Ninoy. His other nephews are the famous businessman Tony Boy Cojuanco and Presidential aspirant, Gibo Teodoro. Danding Cojuanco is married to Gretchen Lichauco Oppen, heiress to the Montilla hacienda in Negros and Lichauco properties in Manila.

GEORGE TY ($830 million) - Founder and Chairman of Metropolitan banking Corporation, the third largest bank in the country next to BPI and Banco de Oro. But believed to be the largest Philippine bank in terms of assets and Capital. Metrobank has several ventures outside the Philippines, it has branches in the United States, Europe and neighboring Asian countries. Ty has major stakes at BPI and Philippine Savings bank. He is 74 years old and has five children.

George Ty also owns a tower and condominium called G.T Towers, a skyscraping building  in the country's central business district, Makati City.

JOHN GOKONGWEI JR. ($700 million) - Just like Henry Sy, Andrew Tan and Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei Jr. is an immigrant from China, but unlike Sy and Tan, Gokongwei was born with a silver spoon, his father owned a large store in Cebu, but after his father's death, the family's wealth gradually eroded and John was forced to sell soap and candles in the street. 

He went to Manila and sought assistance from the Chinese community, he later founded JG Summit Holdings with numerous business ventures in the field of food, land development and telecommunications. 

Gokongwei owns Cebu Pacific, Robinson malls, Cebu Pacific, Digital Telecommunications, Sun Celluar, Universal Robina Corporation and several investments. He is a cousin to Andrew Gotianun, the owner of East West bank and Filinvest Development Corporation, and the 12th richest man in the Philippines. He is now 80 years old. He has six children, his eldest son, Lance Gokongwei, took over the chairmanship of the company in 2006.

TONY TAN CAKTIONG ($575 million) - Caktioing dreamed of putting up an ice cream parlor but switched to a hamburger business instead. This business was later known as Jollibee, the fast rising competitive fast food chain  in the world.

Now, Jollibee has more than 100 chains in China and soon to penetrate the U.S market and India. Jollibee has more than 1,500 stores in the Philippines operating in six brands. He also acquired Greenwich Pizza Corp in 1994, Chowking in 2000 and Red Ribbon in 2005 and lately, Mang Inasal.

Tan Caktiong finished Chemical Engineering at the University of Sto. Tomas. He is now 53 years old and has 3 children. He is still the company's CEO and Chairman of the board.

ANDREW TAN ($480 million) – He surprised the world in 2009 when he became the 5th richest man in the Philippines and everybody is wondering who is Andrew Tan. 

Just like most of Philippines’ billionaires, Andrew Tan has a very humble beginning. A poor immigrant from China, Tan was born in 1953 to a factory worker father, Tan had to endure walking few kilometers to reach University of the East where he was studying Accounting. 

He maintained frugality all through out his college life. His business flagship is Alliance Global Group Inc. which includes Megaworld Corporation, Emperador Distillers Corp and Golden Arches Development Corp which processes the Mcdonalds franchise in the Philippines. Now his company is developing technology parks and just broke ground on a new Marriott hotel in Newport City.

EMILIO YAP ($350 million) – He owns Manila Bulletin, one of the country’s largest newspapers. His other ventures include Manila Hotel, Centro Escolar University and Euro-Phil Laboratories. 

He is 81 years old.

OSCAR LOPEZ ($325 million) – He is the Chairman Emeritus of Lopez Group of Companies, a Philippine business conglomerate founded by Eugenio Lopez, Sr. the Lopezes companies include Lopez Holding Corporation (formerly Benprez), ABS-CBN Corporation, Skycable, Rockwell, Bayan Telecomm, Power generation (FGP Corp), Power distribution (Meralco, PECO), First Phil.Industrial Park, First Philippine Realty Corp and many more. 

Lopez earned both his BA college degree and masters degree in business administration at the Harvard University. In 2010, Oscar Lopez turned over the CEO post of Lopez Group to his brother, Manuel Lopez, the former chairman of Meralco.

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