The Surprising Newcomers, Gainers, and Returnees on the Forbes Philippines Rich List 2019

Whose fortunes gained and declined in 2019?

It was hardly a surprise when  the late taipan Henry Sy, Sr.’s heirs replaced him in the top spot on the Forbes Philippines’ Richest list of 2019. With $17.2 billion in collective net worth, the Sy siblings were unmatched in this year’s rich list.

However, there were still quite a surprises in the 2019 rich list:

Growth and decline

It was a good year for three billionaires in the top 10. Vista Land’s Manuel Villar saw his wealth jump from $5 billion in 2018 to $6.6 billion in 2019, while taipan John Gokongwei, Jr.’s fortunes increased from $4.4 billion to $5.3 billion.

Port tycoon Enrique Razon, Jr.’s net worth growth, from $3.9 billion to $5.1 billion, earned him the fourth spot on the list, edging out Jaime Zobel de Ayala, who is at no. 5.

While their wealth grew, none had a bigger jump up the ranks than Mercedes Gotianun, chairman emeritus of Filinvest Development, who moved from no. 17 in 2018 to no. 12 in 2019. Gotianun’s wealth grew by roughly $1 billion in the last year.

Meanwhile, Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong saw his wealth decrease by about $850 million in the last year. Now at $3 billion, Caktiong came in at no. 7 on the list. Earlier this year, the news that Jollibee purchased Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for a whopping $350 million rippled across the globe. However, the company's share prices dipped after the buyout but has since recovered.

The family businesses

Before Henry Sy, Sr.’s death in early 2019, two other tycoons also passed away just a few months beforehand: George Ty, the founder of Metrobank, and Beatrice Campos, the Unilab family matriarch.


Replacing them on the Forbes list are their children and successors, the Ty siblings (Arthur, Alfred, Alesandra, and Anjanette) and the Campos siblings (Jocelyn, Joselito, and Jeffrey). The Ty siblings have a combined wealth of $2.6 billion, taking 9th spot, while the Campos siblings have a combined wealth of $650 million, placing them in the 23rd spot.

The newcomers

Three standout newcomers also made it to the list, with energy tycoon Dennis Uy leading the trio. Uy’s Udenna group, with subsidiaries such as Phoenix Petroliam and Clark Global City, rose by 28 percent in 2018. 2019 has been a good year for Uy after Udenna was given a permit to operate its new telecommunications arm Dito Telecommunity Corporation, which is expected to shake up the Smart-Globe telco duopoly.

Uy’s debut jumped to no. 22 with $660 million, ranking higher than over half of the seasoned billionaires and businessmen on the list. Delfin J. Wenceslao of real estate developer D.M. Wenceslao & Associates also debuted on the list at no. 25 with $500 million. The company was only recently made public in June of 2018.

At no. 49, agri-businessman Antonio Lee Tiu entered the list for the first time with a net worth of $135 million. Tiu started his agri-business AgriNurture when he was only 22 years old, and has steadily built his empire since then.

The returnees

Among the returning millionaires on the list are mining tycoon Philip Ang, who is back on the list after being excluded in 2018. Ang returned with a net worth of $160 million, placing him in the 44th spot. Meanwhile, STI head Eusebio Tanco also returned with $205 million at no. 41 after also being excluded from the 2018 list.

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After two years, power tycoon Tomas Alcantara is also making a comeback with $300 million, placing at no. 33, after a two-year break from the list. Alcantara’s diversified businesses are involved in the power, copper, and real estate industries.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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