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John Gokongwei, Jr.'s Life in Photos

A look into the life of a man who's left an indelible mark as an entrepreneur, industrialist, businessman, and philanthropist.
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The story of John Gokongwei, Jr. is one that has inspired many. From selling soap at a public market, he turned his fortune around to become one of the country's wealthiest individuals. On what would have been his 94th birthday, we pay tribute to John Gokongwei, Jr. with photos of him through the decades.

1938: A Young Big John

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John Gokongwei, Jr. was born in 1926 in China to Juanita and John Gokongwei Sr.

1940s: Growing Up

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At the age of 13, Gokongwei's father died and he had to make a living to help his family. His first move was to sell roasted peanuts to his classmates in Cebu. This was followed by peddling soap, thread, and candles in the town market.

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1940s: Working in Trade

From there, Gokongwei turned to trade and manufacturing of food, used clothing, old newspapers, and magazines—the very early beginnings of JG Summit Holdings.

1958: Getting Married

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In 1958, Gokongwei married Elizabeth Yu. On marriage, he said: "Marry a good person. Your spouse should be an ally in happiness and not a source of misery. The challenge is to find someone who shares the same beliefs and principles and can be your partner in parenthood and all aspects of your life."

1960s: Consolidated Food Corporation

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By the '60s, Gokongwei had established Consolidated Food Corporation (CFC Corporation).

1960s: Doting Father

John and Elizabeth Gokongwei had six children Robina, Lance, Lisa, Faith, Hope, and Marcia.

1980s: John Gokongwei, Jr. and His Family

Family was important to Gokongwei, who always made time to show up for dinner. "Tell stories about your day and learn lessons from each other. Dinner is a great time to exchange ideas and opinions," he said.

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1990s: Taking on Cebu Pacific

Gokongwei acquired Cebu Air, Inc. in 1996. By 2001, the airline had about 80 daily flights to 18 domestic destinations.

1990s: Travel Notes

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Gokongwei put focus on the importance of travel and books with the belief of living simply and spending on experineces.

2017: A Lasting Legacy

Photo by JAKE VERSOZA.

The entrepreneur, industrialist, businessman, and philanthropist John L. Gokongwei Jr. passed away on November 9, 2019 at 93. His story, as well as his reputation as an "industrialist challenger" and a "disruptor" remains a source of inspiration to many aspiring entrepreneurs in the country.

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Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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