The Most Powerful Tycoons in the Philippines
Hard work, grit, and persistence—these are the traits exhibited by the titans of industry in the Philippines.
The contributions of these leaders have improved the quality of our daily lives. Cheers to these exceptional Filipinos who are making a difference in their respective fields of business.
One of the country's wealthiest individuals, Enrique "Endika" Aboitiz, is the director of the Aboitiz Group of Companies and president and CEO of AWC Philippines. Most recently, he made headlines for investing in QEV Philippines Electromobility Solutions and Consulting Group Inc., a company that hopes to make the "green" jeepney a standard.
The grandchild of Aboitiz patriarch Don Ramon Aboitiz, Erramon Isidro “Monchu” M. Aboitiz is the current president and chief executive officer of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc (AEV), which was founded by Paulino Aboitiz in the 19th century as an abaca-trading and general merchandise business. Today, the company is involved in a wide span of industries, including power, banking, food, land development, and biofuel.
With his appointment as chief executive in 2009, according to Rappler, he “transformed the once family-owned business into a publicly-listed conglomerate currently with more than 20,000 employees and, as of the first half of 2013, a consolidated net income of P11.9 billion.” Forbes estimates Aboitiz’s net worth at $130 million. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting and Finance from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.
Sabin Aboitiz is the CEO and president of the country's leading flour milling company, Pilmico Foods Corporation. In addition to this, Aboitiz is also the EVP and COO of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. He graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.
Margaret Gaisano Ang
Margaret Gaisano Ang has served as director, corporate secretary, and treasurer of Metro Retail Stores Group, Inc. (
One of the Philippines' top tycoons, Ramon Ang is the president and chief executive officer of Top Frontier Investment Holdings, Inc., San Miguel Corporation’s largest shareholder. Ang started out selling used Japanese truck and car engines and eventually did business with Eduardo Cojuangco by selling aluminum wheels. In 2017, he ranked 10 among Forbes' list of the Philippines' 50 Richest.
Antonio is a co-founder and now chairman of Century Properties and its subsidiaries. Two years ago, the real estate company made a whopping $130 million in sales. Antonio, however, doesn’t limit his trades to real estate. He is also the president-appointed special envoy to the United States.
Robbie Antonio founded Revolution
Vivian Que Azcona
Under the management of Vivian Que-Azcona, local pharmacy chain Mercury Drug accumulated P123.2 billion in revenue in 2016. With a net worth of $230 million, Que-Azcona is listed as one of the richest women in the Philippines. She inherited Mercury from her father, Mariano Que, who died in March last year. Today, the chain has over 1,100 branches nationwide.
Businessman Ben Chan built the retail empire now known as the Suyen Corporation, out of a single brand of clothing—Bench. It started as a men’s brand sold at SM department stores in
Lucio and Susan Co
On Forbes’ annual list of the country’s wealthiest, names usually appear as single entries, but in the case of Lucio and Susan Co, the couple was jointly listed as number 11 with a combined net worth of $1.8 billion. This self-made husband-and-wife tandem
Ferdinand Vincent Co
The eldest child and only son of Lucio and Susan Co, Ferdinand is president and director of Puregold Price Club and the president of 514 Shaw Property Holdings, Inc. and KMC Realty Corporation. He also owns millions of Puregold shares, making him a peso billionaire.
Robert Coyiuto Jr.
The 14th richest man in the country, Coyiuto owes much of his wealth to Prudential Guarantee Assurance, the non-life insurance company of which he is currently chairman and CEO. Other sources of wealth include a 30 percent stake in the National Grid, as well as in Oriental Petroleum and Minerals. He also owns PGA Cars, which locally deals luxury car brands Porsche, Audi, Bentley, and Lamborghini.
Eduardo "Danding" Murphy Cojuangco Jr. is chairman of San Miguel Corporation, "one of the Philippines’ most diversified conglomerates, generating about 5.1 percent (as of 2015) of the country’s gross domestic product through its highly integrated operations in beverages, food, packaging, fuel and oil, power, mining and infrastructure."
After David Consunji passed away in December last year, his son Isidro inherited DMCI Holdings, of which he was already chairman, president, and CEO. Despite the loss of its founder, DMCI Holdings exceeded its sales and reservations targets by 53 percent under the younger Consunji’s leadership last year. More than just the son of the owner, Consunji has proven his competence by growing D.M. Consunji Inc.’s portfolio to include energy, mining, real estate, and water services. He graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of the Philippines and earned his MBA from the Asian Institute of Management.
Down south, Paul Dominguez runs C. Alcantara and Sons, Inc., a manufacturer of plywood and wood products in Davao that also exports materials internationally. He is now also an alternate director at the Asian Development Bank and was once a director of Phoenix Petroleum.
Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez might now be thrust into power as Secretary of Finance, but this decision is backed by his solid 40-year background managing various businesses in the public and private sector. Past positions include his run as president for Philippine Airlines and the Philippine
Jack S. Gaisano belongs to the prominent Gaisano family through his parents Victor and Sally Gaisano, the founders of Metro Retail Stores. Gaisano finished at the University of San Carlos and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, and has completed several courses at the Institute of Corporate Directors. He currently holds the title of director of Metro Retail Stores Group, Inc. (
Attorney Augusto “Gus” Go is the son of Manuel Gotianuy, the founder of Visayan Surety & Insurance Corp. Go is the founder and president of the University of Cebu and chairman of Toyota Cebu City. He is also chairman of the Board of Aspac Rural Bank Inc., Cebu Central Realty Corp. (Elizabeth Mall), Cebu Coliseum Complex Inc., Metro Ferry Inc., Visayan Surety and Insurance Corp., and AWG Development Corp as well as chairman of the board of the College of Technological Sciences-Cebu, president of Cebu Eastern College and a member of the board of Sacred Heart School-Jesuits. In 1987, he served as appointed vice mayor of Cebu City. The Cebu-based tycoon is known as “the man who makes education accessible to those who have less in life.”
John Gokongwei, Jr.
Though his many businesses have extended far beyond Cebu, Filipino-Chinese magnate John Gokongwei was born and raised in the southern city. Gokongwei had a privileged childhood, but at 13, after the death of his father, his family lost everything. To make ends meet, he peddled items to sell and
The eldest of John Gokongwei’s children, Robina Pe joined the retail industry in the ‘80s when she worked at the first Robinsons Department Store in Manila as a receiving clerk at the warehouse. As time went on, her responsibilities grew and this year, she left her post as Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. COO and was named its new CEO, as well as its president and director. She graduated with a degree in journalism from New York University.
There’s been a huge shift in JG Summit Holdings Inc.’s management lately, as Lance Gokongwei was appointed the conglomerate’s new CEO on April. He takes over the role once held by his uncle, James Go, who is now the group’s chairman emeritus. Apart from that, he is also the CEO of Cebu Air Inc., Robinsons Land Corp., and chairman of Robinsons Retail Holdings.
Together with her late husband Andrew, Gotianun founded the Filinvest Development Corp., which the couple started in the ‘50s. Filinvest now boasts of a net profit that increased by 21 percent last year, with revenues coming in from its stakes in banking, property, and power generation. Gotianun has, however, taken a step back and has left the management of the company to her daughter, Josephine.
Earlier last month, Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) kicked off its 30th anniversary and no one could have been prouder than Anton Huang, the group’s president. The son of Nedy Tantoco certainly inherited his mother’s and grandmother’s business sense, as SSI, the retail arm of the Rustan’s Group of Companies has steadily diversified under his helm. As SSI reaches another milestone, Huang mentioned in an interview that the company plans to increase its F&B brands next. It’s off to a great start with the recent announcement of SSI bringing in U.S.
David Leechiu has earned the unofficial title of “leading commercial real estate broker,” and for good reason, too. He was credited for arranging some of the largest real estate transactions in Philippine history. Now the CEO of Leechiu Property Consultants (LCP), Leechiu was able to grow LCP into the third leading brokerage firm in the country—in just two years. Prior to
Jean Henri Lhuillier
Jean Henri Lhuillier currently serves as the CEO of P.J. Lhuillier Inc., the biggest financial services provider in the Philippines, apart from banks. The company is reportedly worth $180 million.
He also heads the PJ Lhuillier Group of Companies’ social responsibility arm, the Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation, Inc. The non-profit organization was established in 2000 to “help the country's economy by giving scholarships to deserving students including the handicapped youth.”
The heir apparent to the Suyen Corporation, Bryan Lim is the son of Ben Chan’s sister, Nenita Lim and her husband Virgilio. He had always played some part in the family business, from the time he spent in product development until his time now as vice president for business development. With his current position, Lim’s primary task is to see a deal with potential partners through the entire negotiation process. He was behind bringing in brands like Aldo, Charles & Keith, La Senza, and Mothercare to the Philippine market.
After his father Oscar Lopez stepped down in 2010, Federico "Piki" Lopez took over as chairman and CEO of power conglomerate First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPHC). He also heads several of the Lopez family's businesses, including ABS-CBN Corporation, Rockwell Land, NLEX Corporation, First Gen Corporation, and the Energy Development Corporation.
As chairman of ABS-CBN Corporation, Martin "Mark" Lagdameo Lopez, has investments in various media formats and types: television, radio, cable telecommunications, and film production. He was previously the vice president and chief information officer of Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), the Philippines' largest distributor of electrical power.
Doris Magsaysay-Ho had been groomed to take over the family business founded by her father, Robert Ho, and her uncle at an early age. She shows no signs of intimidation in being a woman in a man’s world. The shipping magnate is currently chairman and president of her family’s Lorenzo Shipping Corp as well as CEO and president of the Magsaysay Maritime.
Nico Nolledo’s rags-to-riches story exploded on the internet four years ago. Online articles painted him as the former KFC employee who turned into an IT billionaire. The respectable businessman turned his luck around and is now chairman of Xurpas, an IT company he co-founded almost two decades ago. He recently stepped down as its CEO but continues to hold directorships in other companies such as the startup Eden Holdings. He had also founded the popular forum website PinoyExchange.
Filipino businessman Roberto Ongpin descended from one of the most influential and enduring families of the Philippines. He graduated from Ateneo de Manila University and earned his master's degree from Harvard University. In its latest ranking, Forbes ranked him as the 12th richest Filipino. As of June 2018, he has a net worth of $1.46 billion from his ventures: real estate development, resort development, mining, energy, and transportation.
Manuel V. Pangilinan
Filipino businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is the managing director and CEO of First Pacific Company Limited which holds investments in Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, PLDT and Philex Mining Corporation in the Philippines. Pangilinan earned his education from San Beda University, Ateneo de Manila University, and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ricardo S. Po, Sr.
Ricardo Gabriel T. Po, Jr. is the vice chairman at Arthaland Corporation and Century Pacific Food, the country's largest canned tuna company and the leading exporter of private-label tuna. Born in Guangzhou, he moved to the Philippines at 15 years old. The self-made businessman founded Century Pacific in 1978. As of 2017, Forbes estimates his net worth at $980 million.
As managing director of National Book Store, Xandra Ramos-Padilla is taking great care of her grandmother, Soccoro “Nanay Coring” Ramos’s business. One can annually expect great things from the bookstore chain. On its 76th year, National Book Store announced days ago that it’s opening its store concepts for franchising. This new development is in line with the company’s goal to have 500 stores open by 2020, reports Entrepreneur Philippines.
Enrique Razon, Jr.
Though Enrique Razon, Jr. inherited International Container Terminal Services, Inc., he was instrumental in its growth as the leading container-port terminal service in Manila, Subic, Batangas, General Santos City, Poland
Edgar Saavedra and Michael Cosiquien became the youngest billionaires in the country when they entered the construction business by starting Megawide Construction two decades ago. Saavedra, now president of Megawide, steered the company into a territory dealing with diverse construction and social infrastructure projects. In managing the Mactan Cebu International Airport, Megawide has become the country’s largest private airport operator.
In 2003, Edgar “Injap” Sia co-founded barbecue chain Mang Inasal. It quickly grew and by the time it was acquired by Jollibee it had 338 branches in the country. After selling 70 percent of his ownership to Jollibee, he became the youngest billionaire in the Philippines. Currently, he holds the title of chairman at DoubleDragon Properties, the developer of shopping mall CityMall. As of August 2017, Forbes estimates his net worth at $820 million.
Henry Sy's eldest daughter, Tessie Sy-Coson, is SM Investments Corporation (SMIC)’ vice chairwoman. In 2001, she notably started turning BDO Unibank Inc. into "into the country's biggest lender" through an acquisition spree.
Henry Sy, Jr.
Henry Sy, Jr. is co-vice chairman of SMIC and chairman of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. and Highlands Prime, Inc. Most recently, he launched a cement business named Big Boss Cement Inc. which will use volcanic debris from Pampanga as its source.
In 2016, Henry Sy Sr.’s fourth child, Hans, stepped away from his role as president of SM Prime Holdings Inc., much to the surprise of the businessmen around him. While he still sits on the board of China Bank and SM Prime, Sy is cooking up something new in the realm of arts and culture. Soon, a replica of an 18th-century galleon built in Cavite will rise at the Mall of Asia Complex. Sy and SM Prime Holdings are major collaborators in this project, which is poised to become a museum featuring the history of galleon trade within 8,000-square meters of exhibition space. He has also taken up a greater part in managing the National University.
65-year-old Andrew Tan ranks nine at Forbes' list of Philippines 50 Richest 2017. The son of a factory worker, Tan started his empire by developing apartment complexes in Manila. He currently chairs Alliance Global which owns McDonald's Philippines and Emperador, to name a few. He's estimated to be worth around $2.2 billion.
In June, Kevin Tan received a huge promotion when his father Andrew Tan relinquished his role as CEO of Alliance Global Inc. The 38-year-old eldest son has held various senior roles within the company for two decades. Tan juggles this new role with directorships in other AGI companies like Emperador Inc., Empire East Land Holdings Inc., and Golden Arches Development Corporation. The conglomerate also cited Tan’s contribution in helping Megaworld hit a record-breaking P13 billion in rental revenues last year.
Multi-industry tycoon Lucio Tan is the chairman of Philippine Airlines, Inc., Asia Brewery Inc., Eton Properties Philippines, Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corp., PMFTC Inc., Grandspan Development Corp., Himmel Industries Inc., Lucky Travel Corp., PAL Holdings, Inc., Air Philippines Corporation, Tanduay Distillers, Inc., and Tanduay Brands International, Inc., to name a few. Tan is ranked fourth at Forbes’ list of 50 Filipino billionaires.
Michael Tan is president and chief operating officer of the LT Group as well as the director and chief operating officer of Asia Brewery, Inc. Tan holds a number of positions in his father, Lucio Tan's companies. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia.
The son of Lucio Tan, Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr. heads Tanduay Distillers Inc and Eton Properties Philippines Inc. The industrial scion is likely to succeed his father’s conglomerate, LT Group along with his brother, Michael.
Bienvenido Tantoco, Sr.
At 97, the Tantoco patriarch is worth $190 million, keeping him on Forbes’ list of top 50 billionaires in the country. In the ‘50s, "Lolo Benny,” as he is fondly called by those close to him, co-founded the Rustan’s Group with his wife, Glecy. The business is now mainly run by the second and third generation of the clan.
Bienvenido Tantoco III
Donnie Tantoco has taken the reins at Rustan Commercial Corp. and currently sits as its president. The third generation Tantoco has often cited his grandparents as a source of inspiration and wisdom when it comes to running the business.
Nedy Tantoco learned the value of hard work at an early
Tony Tan Caktiong
Tony Tan Caktiong needs no introduction. As the founder and chairman of Jollibee Foods Corporation, he’s made countless Filipinos happy with fast food chains Jollibee, Red Ribbon, Chowking, Greenwich, Manong Pepe's, and Mang Inasal. He is also the co-chairman of DoubleDragon Properties along with Edgar "Injap" Sia.
George Ty’s eldest son, Arthur, currently acts as chairman of Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings, Inc. He also serves as chairman at Global Business Holdings, Inc., First Metro Investment Corporation, Philippine Savings Bank, and Philippines AXA Life Insurance Corporation.
The son of George Ty, Alfred, is the vice chairman of Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. He also holds positions at Federal Homes Inc., Lexus Manila, Inc., and Federal Land Group of Companies, and more. Ty earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California.
The Davao-based businessman has steered the growth of Phoenix Petroleum from a once-small oil-distribution business to a major player on the national stage—it was the first Philippine-owned independent oil company to be listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2007. In more recent years, he’s started to expand the empire: He bought a franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association last year, is currently developing a casino and resort in Cebu, and just completed the acquisition of hospitality educational institution Enderun Colleges.
Though he’s known as the chairman and founder of Golden Arches Development Corporation (McDonald's Philippines), George Yang also has ventures in real estate development and marketing of consumer products. He also serves as the president of First Georgetown Ventures Inc., Fun Characters Inc., Fun Characters International Pte. Ltd., and Kristin Management & Development Corp.
Yap has his foot in the hospitality and services industry as a chairman of the Manila Hotel Corp. But apart from that, he’s also widely known as the chairman of Euro-Med Laboratories and a chairman at the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. He graduated with a degree in Commerce from De La Salle University and pursued further studies by completing his Master’s Degree at the Asian Institute of Management.
Although she was not an only child, Yuchengco-Dee was always seen as her late father Alfonso’s successor. She serves as chair of RCBC, Malayan Insurance and House of Investments. She also holds directorships in several of the Yuchengco firms, including RCBC Forex Brokers Corporation, Great Life Financial Assurance Corporation, and Petrogreen Energy Corp.
Fernando Zobel de Ayala
Fernando Zobel de Ayala has been president and chief operating officer of Ayala Corporation since 2006. He leads the Ayala Group, along with his brother Jaime Augusto, as seventh generation Zobels. Zobel de Ayala also holds positions in Ayala Land, Inc., Manila Water Company, Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, Globe Telecom, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc., Isuzu Philippines Corporation, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., and Manila Peninsula, to name a few.
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala
A member of the prominent Zobel de Ayala clan, Filipino businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala is undoubtedly one of the country’s most powerful. Zobel de Ayala has been the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Ayala Corp. since April 2006. He is also chairman of the board of directors of Globe Telecom, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI), among others. For his contributions, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit in 2009 and the Philippine Legion of Honor, Rank of Grand Commander in 2010.
Jaime Zobel de Ayala
Even though he retired in 2006, Jaime Zobel de Ayala still ranks as fifth in Forbes' 2017 list of the Philippines 50 Richest. A third of the Ayala Group is currently controlled by his seven children: Jaime Augusto, Fernando, Beatriz Susana, Patricia, Cristina, Monica, and Sofia. As of 2017, his net worth is estimated to be $3.7 billion.
Inigo and Mercedes Zobel
Enrique Zobel attained success in real estate, construction, insurance, and agriculture. Of his two surviving children, Inigo is the more visible—an astute businessman, he’s also a fixture on the polo circuit. Enzo’s daughter Mercedes (Dedes) prefers to keep a low profile, choosing to engage in philanthropy.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountry.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.