"Here's my list for the year."
My list of “Persons of the Decade” just past are the greats and near-greats in business—the nation-builders, modern-day heroes and patriots. They have made the national economy resilient and sustainable even against global headwinds.
My list, not necessarily in any particular order, contains the following: Henry Sy Sr., Ramon Ang, Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei, Manny Pangilinan, Roberto Ongpin, Manny Villar, Andrew Tan, George SK Ty, Andrew Gotianun, Jaime and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Lucio and Susan Co, Al Yuchengco, Felipe Gozon, Joey Antonio, Alfonso “Boy” Reyno and George Yang.
I knew Henry Sy when he was still in his early 20s, then an importer of surplus and slightly damaged imported goods from Boston, U.S.A. In fact, I saw him first with a big pile of imported shoes in front of his father’s shop along Carriedo Street. This was sometime in 1948. Henry went on to build more SM stores in Metro Manila. He died as king of retail, admired and respected by all for his hard work, patience, perseverance, patience, honesty and integrity.
The Sys are in banking, property development, tourism and other endeavors. Above all, Henry knew how to give back his blessings from God to those in need.
He is blessed to have hardworking children who will carry on his legacy.
Ramon S. Ang is another business great. He was listedas the first Filipino among the 50 most influential personalities in the world. That’s certainly a great honor for Filipinos, and to think he did not even go to an Ivy League school abroad. RSA studied at the Far Eastern University to be a mechanical engineer and pursued his passion for vintage cars. That was when San Miguel’s chairman Danding Cojuangco met him. Danding was also into old cars.
As COO of San Miguel, Ramon, the visionary that he is, has made San Miguel the biggest conglomerate getting out of its core business in beverages to infrastructure, banking, property development, hotels and airports. The biggest of all is the New Manila International Airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, dubbed as a game-changer with a cost of P745 billion. It will be built on a 2,400-hectare land and will have four runways, likely to employ one million workers. NMIA will be located about 50 kilometers northwest of Manila and will connect to an expressway.
Likewise, Ramon Ang has submitted to the Department of Transportation an unsolicited proposal to build a skyway consisting of 10 lanes to finally solve the nightmarish long parking lot that is Edsa.
Santa Banana, the steel road would be built above the MRT.
There is also MRT 7 which will run from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan to MRT via Commonwealth Avenue.
I must also credit San Miguel Chairman and CEO Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco for making San Miguel what it is today.
To me, Ramon Ang may well be the Man of the Decade!
Next on my list is Dr. Lucio Tan, another nation builder. I first met Lucio when he was a chemist at Harry Stonehill’s factory at the Port Area. This was before Lucio went on to build his own empire. He remains the media-shy taipan I knew.
Although he had a sad event in his life when he lost his oldest son, Lucio Jr., he is blessed with his daughter Vivian who will succeed him.
John Gokongwei started doing business in Cebu. He was just a young man on a bicycle. And then he went on to Metro Manila to become a tycoon, putting up a chain of shopping malls and the biggest budget airline, Cebu pacific, and food production. He is also blessed with his children led by Lance.
Next on my list is Ricky Razon, my former boss at Manila Standard, and son of my old friend Pocholo Razon whom I supported in his battles at the pier to put up a container and stevedoring business, ICTSI has now become a globally recognized name.
Ricky is now in the process of giving Ilonggos better electric service with his move to take over Iloilo City’s electric power services from the Cachos. Ricky is known more as the builder of one of the four biggest gaming and entertainment hotels at Entertainment City—Solaire—were local and foreign artists have their concerts. He is also in water, proposing to make a dam as a source of Metro Manila’s water.
Bobby Ongpin was my student at the Ateneo. He has become the biggest high-end property developer for making Balesin Island the no. 1 leisure destination. Bobby is also building the Makati Place at the end of Ayala Avenue with City Club, an all-around business and leisure club.
(To be continued)