The Country's Top Taipans and Their Heirs

These tycoons and their heirs apparent help lead the Philippine economy to progress.


The Taipan: Ramon Ang, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corporation
Education: BS Mechanical Engineering, Far Eastern University
The Empire: SMC is rooted in its food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and packing industries. It has recently ventured into a slew of corporate acquisitions: property and infrastructure (San Miguel Properties, SLEX, Boracay airport), fuel and oil (Petron), airlines (Philippine Airlines and budget carrier Airphil Express), telecommunications, mining, and power generation.
Net Worth: $1.2 billion
History: Founded in 1890 as La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, the first brewery in Southeast Asia. San Miguel began exporting to neighboring Asian countries in 1914, and has since had its reins passed on from the Roxases, Zobels, and Sorianos, to Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. (from 1984 onward), and now, to Ramon Ang. In mid-2012 Ang was awarded full control of SMC following a deal with Danding Cojuangco, who sold his stakes to his former protégé.

The Heiress: Cecilia Ang
Education: AB European Studies, Ateneo de Manila University
Current Role: Cecilia, the second of Ang’s eight children, is the president of Diamond Hotel and local franchisee of upscale chocolate brand Royce’. She’s in charge of broadening the market for Diamond Hotel’s Cake Club.


The Taipan: Ben Chan, founder and chairman of Bench
Education: Marketing Studies, University of California, Berkeley; fashion design, Pacific Fashion School in San Francisco
The Empire: Suyen Corporation, parent company of the country’s largest retail clothing chain, Bench, and seven other local brands. It is also the distributor of over a dozen global brands which include Aldo, Celio, Charles & Keith, La Senza, The Face Shop, Pedro, Dimensione, and Patchi. Bench, the flagship brand, is currently the only Filipino clothing brand sold in China, the U.S., and the Middle East.
History: Bench started out in 1987 as a men’s brand at the SM department store, and has since expanded to market nearly every product in the industry spectrum—from beauty, underwear, to women’s and children’s wear, and even snacks.

The Heir: Bryan Lim
Education: Industrial Engineering, De La Salle University
Current Role: Bryan is the son of Ben Chan’s sister, Nenita Lim (Suyen VP for finance), and her husband Virgilio (president). The vice president for business development, Bryan was behind bringing brands such as Aldo, Charles & Keith, La Senza, Mothercare, and the Face Shop into the Philippines, with most of them represented in nearly every shopping mall in Metro Manila.


The Taipan: Lucio Co, chairman, Puregold Price Club
The Empire: The chain of hypermarts is the family’s crown jewel, but Co has stakes in other industries as well: Alcorn Gold Resources, the wine and distribution businesses Montosco, Meritus Prime Distributions, Premier Wine and Spirits, leisure developer Puregold Properties, and Pure Petroleum.
Net Worth: $1.81 billion
History: Co put up a small hypermarket, Puregold, in 1998, which then catered to the low-income market. In less than a decade, it became the second largest retailer in the Philippines, and now has over 70 supermarkets, hypermarkets, and discount stores across the country. Last year, Puregold Price Club bought ownership in the premier S&R membership shopping club. The company went public in September 2011. Lucio placed 11th in Forbes’ list of the richest Filipinos last year.

The Heir: Ferdinand Vincent Co
Education: Entrepreneurial Management, University of Asia and the Pacific
Background:  Vincent is Lucio’s eldest and only son. He owns more than 110 million Puregold shares, making him a peso-billionaire. Apart from serving as President of Puregold, he is the president of 514 Shaw Property Holdings, KMC Realty Corporation, VFC Land Resources, and Pajusco Corporation, and is the treasurer of Fertuna Holdings.


Opposite, from left: Cecile Ang, Emilio Yap III, Ramon Ang, Ricardo Po. This page, clockwise from left: Chris Po, Bryan Lim, Henry Sy, Emilio Yap, Tessie Sy-Coson, Ben Chan.


The Taipan: John Gokongwei Jr, chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings
Education: BA, University of San Carlos, MBA from De La Salle University
The Empire: JG Summit Holdings is one of the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines involved in air transportation, telecommunications, processed food and farming, shopping malls, real estate, and banking. Gokongwei is a staunch philanthropist as well, having donated hundreds of millions toward education.
Net Worth: $5.5 billion, as of December 2016
History: Born to a well-off family in Cebu, Gokongwei first experienced hardship after the early death of his father. Forced to support his family, he started selling household items at the public market. He and a brother put up Amasia Trading, which sold used items from the United States. At age 31, he established Universal Corn Products, and three years later in 1961, he introduced Blend 45 through his Consolidated Food Corporation. Established in 1966, Universal Robina Corporation is behind the snacks Chiz Curls and Chippy. Robinsons Galleria opened in 1990, Cebu Pacific made its debut in 1996, while Robinsons Bank was established a year later. Sun Cellular entered the market in 2003.

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The Heir: Lance Gokongwei
Education: Graduated summa cum laude with degrees in Economics, Applied Science from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering; and Finance from the Wharton School.
Current Role: Lance is his father’s only son, and has Robina, Lisa, Faith, Hope, and Marcia for sisters. He started working for the family at age 21, becoming his father’s virtual shadow. By age 30, he was running the fledgling airline, Cebu Pacific as its president and CEO. Now he also leads as the president of JG Summit.


The Taipan: Mercedes Gotianun, co-founder and chairman emeritus of conglomerate Filinvest Development Corporation
The Empire: The Gotianuns are behind the Filinvest group, one of the largest real estate developers in the country. The family is also involved in finance through its East West Bank and Filinvest Credit Corporation, and recently expanded their businesses to include biofuels and sugar. Mercedes was given the position her husband, Andrew, held after he passed away earlier this year.
Net Worth: $1.3 billion
History: Filinvest Credit Corporation (FCC) was founded in 1955 to finance buyers of second-hand cars. The realty arm came about a dozen years later. After a brief retirement in the 1980s, the Gotianuns rejoined the financial and banking industry when he set up the East West Banking Corporation in 1994. Five years ago, Filinvest became a player in the sugar industry, acquiring full ownership of the Pacific Sugar Holdings Corporation. Filinvest’s entry into the hospitality industry came in the form of Crimson Resorts and Seascape Resorts.

The Heiress: Josephine Gotianun-Yap
Education: Business Management, Ateneo de Manila University; MBA, University of Chicago
Current Role: The third child of Andrew and Mercedes Gotianun, Josephine was recently appointed Filinvest Land’s president and chief executive officer, taking over from her husband, Joseph Yap. Prior to this appointment, Josephine had been a director of the company since 1990, as well as director at East West. She’s also president of the Palms Country Club at the Filinvest Corporate City in Alabang. Just a week into her appointment, Josephine announced her top project, the launch of Filinvest City, FLI’s newest 244-hectare high-end development.


The Taipan: Ricardo Sy Po, chairman and founder of Century Pacific Corporation
Education: Enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas for Industrial Chemistry, but dropped out due to lack of funds
The Empire: Century Pacific Corporation is the holding company of Century Canning, which has Century Tuna, 555 sardines, Argentina corned beef, and the Yoshinoya fast-food chain among its products and services. Its canned milk brand, Snow Mountain Dairy Corporation, distributes Angel and Birch Tree powdered milk.
Net Worth: $950 million
History: Century, a pioneer in seafood canning, was founded in 1978 by Po. It launched first the 555 sardines brand (1983), followed by Century Tuna (1986) and Argentina corned beef (1995). It brought in the Yoshinoya Japanese restaurant chain in 2001, and recently acquired food and beverage group RFM Corporation’s Swift meat brand for $850 million.

The Heir: Christopher “Chris” Po
Education: Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania; Finance, Wharton School; MBA in Finance, Harvard.
Current Role: Since 2007, Chris has been the CEO and president of Century Canning Corporation. He's worked as a management consultant in corporate finance, was formerly a managing director at Guggenheim and Partners, and head of corporate planning at JG Summit.


Clockwise, from left: Andrew Gotianun, Lance Gokongwei, Arthur Ty, George Ty, Josephine Yap, John Gokongwei, Alfred Ty


The Taipan: Henry Sy, chairman and founder SM Investments Corporation
Education: AA Commercial Studies, Far Eastern University
The Empire: Sy is the acknowledged mall king in the Philippines, with more than 40 all over the country. Sy also boasts ownership of the biggest bank in the Philippines, and has vast holdings in real estate, construction, and mining.
Net Worth: $13.7 billion
History: From Xiamen, China, Sy’s family migrated to the Philippines when he was 12. After the war, he started peddling American shoes brought in by soldiers, and by 1958, had enough capital to open his own store, Shoe Mart in Quiapo, Manila. Sy began diversifying in 1976, when he acquired a small bank, which was renamed Banco de Oro. In the early 1980s, Sy opened the first of his super malls, SM North EDSA. In 2006, the Sy family wrested control of Equitable PCI Bank, which has since merged with BDO. Today a major thrust of the group is in real estate.

The Heiress: Teresita "Tessie" Sy-Coson
Education: Commerce, Assumption College
Current Role: Tessie, the eldest of six children, is vice chairman of the family’s holding company, SM Investment Corp or SMIC, as well as the chairman of Banco de Oro Unibank. She started working for her father at age 22, right after graduation, but had already clocked some hours at the department store by age 8, working during school breaks. 


The Taipan: Andrew L. Tan, chairman of the board and president of Megaworld and chairman and CEO of Alliance Global Group and Global Estate Resorts
Education: BA Accounting, University of the East
The Empire: Tan’s real estate empire is composed of residential developments and condominiums, office buildings, and shopping malls. Also owns Emperador Brandy, the No. 1 brand in the world in terms of sales volume.
Net Worth: $2.5 billion
History: From Fujian province in China, Tan grew up in Hong Kong before moving to the Philippines. He once worked in sales at Hitachi Union, before striking gold with Emperador Brandy in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, Tan’s two real estate firms, Megaworld and Empire East, were riding on the crest of the construction boom wave. His Eastwood City transformed what once was a derelict row of warehouses into a vibrant, self-contained residential, commercial and retail community. Further investments into the Alliance Global Group in the last decade saw him becoming a power player in the casino industry through Resorts World Manila.


The Heir: Kevin Tan
Education: Business Administration, University of Asia and the Pacific
Current Role: Kevin, the eldest of four children, is an executive director of the Alliance Global Group, as well as the commercial division vice president of Megaworld. He’s worked for his father’s company for close to a dozen years, with heavy involvement in retail leasing, marketing, and operations. Among the projects he’s overseen are the Eastwood Mall, Venice Piazza, Burgos Circle, Resorts World Manila and the Lucky Chinatown Mall.

Michael Tan, Lucio Tan, Andrew Tan, Kevin Tan


The Taipan: Lucio Tan, chairman and CEO of the Lucio Tan Group of Companies
Education: Chemical Engineering, Far Eastern University
The Empire: Even after Tan sold his stake in the national flag carrier for $500 million, his business empire is still formidable with holdings in the banking, hotels, alcohol, tobacco, education, and real estate industries.
Net Worth: $3.5 billion
History: Before graduation, Tan quit his job to start work in a cigarette factory. He put up the firm that made his billions, Fortune Tobacco Company, in 1966. A few years later he acquired a government-owned bank which he renamed Allied Bank, and established a construction company. He put up Asia Brewery in 1982, and in 1988 he bought Tanduay Distillery from the Elizalde family. By 1993 he acquired a majority stake in Philippine Airlines and seven years later he had control of the Philippine National Bank.

The Heir: Michael Tan
BS Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering, University of British Columbia.
Current Role:
Following his father’s decision to consolidate the family’s companies, the low-profile Michael has been thrust into the spotlight as his father’s anointed one. He first started working for the family in Eton Properties but assumed greater roles at Asia Brewery and at Tanduay. He also holds directorships in several firms within the LT Group of Companies and is now president of his father’s group of companies.


The Taipan: George S.K. Ty, group chairman of GT Capital Holdings
Education: University of Santo Tomas
The Empire:
The Ty family has considerable holdings in the country’s banking, finance, insurance, real estate, and automotive industries. Its Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, better known as Metrobank, has consistently been among the top three largest banks for nearly 30 years, with assets of more than $22-billion. Ty has stakes in other financial firms as well as Toyota Motors Philippines.
Net Worth: 
$3.4 billion
Born in Hong Kong, Ty and his family settled in Binondo. When he was just 29, Ty co-founded Metrobank with partners Emilio Abello, Pio Pedrosa and Placido Mapa, opening their first branch in Binondo. Ty was chairman of the bank from 1975 to 2006. Federal Land came into being in 1972. After concentrating initially in office spaces, the company ventured into residential developments. In 1988, Ty partnered with Toyota Motors Japan and the Mitsui Corporation to set up Toyota Motors Philippines.


The Heirs: Arthur and Alfred Ty
Arthur: Economics, University of Californa, Los Angeles, MBA, Columbia University; Alfred: Business Administration, University of Southern California
Current Roles:
Arthur and Alfred are the two eldest of George Ty’s five children. The brothers have cleanly split their roles within their father’s companies, ensuring a smooth succession. Arthur was appointed chairman of GT Capital. Alfred serves as the company’s co-vice chairman and is also current Corporate Secretary of Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company and Vice Chairman of Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation.


The Taipan:  The late Emilio T. Yap was chairman emeritus of Manila Bulletin Corporation and Philtrust Bank. He passed away in 2014.
The Empire and Heirs: The heirs of Emilio Yap have controlling interests in the Manila Bulletin and Liwayway Publishing, Centro Escolar University, Philtrust Bank and Philtrust Realty, and the Manila Hotel.
Net Worth: $1.1 billion
History: Yap owned a small shipping business before purchasing Manila Bulletin from Swiss-Filipino Hans Menzi in 1961. He acquired Philtrust Bank in 1978 and the Manila Hotel in 1997. Today, the corporation’s core interests have expanded to construction, real estate, education, medicine, food, and trading, which his heirs now run earning the Yap family the 21st spot in Forbes’ list of the richest Filipinos in 2016.


The Taipan: Alfonso Yuchengco, chairman of the Yuchengco Group of Companies
Education: Commerce, major in accountancy, Far Eastern University; MBA, Columbia University
The Empire: The Yuchengco Group of Companies is one of the largest family-owned conglomerates in the country, with more than 60 firms under its umbrella, including Rizal Commercial Banking Corp or RCBC, the Malayan Group of insurance companies, and the Mapua Institute of Technology. Yuchengco has also been a director at PLDT, Dole Philippines, and Benguet Mining.
Net Worth: 
$400 million
Unlike most of his fellow taipans, Yuchengco was born wealthy. His father Enrique made a considerable fortune in rice trading, lumber, and construction in Binondo. In the 1930s, Yuchengco’s father founded the China Insurance and Surety Company. During the war, the Japanese liquidated the company and the Yuchengcos lost nearly everything.  After returning from the U.S., Yuchengco set up Malayan Insurance Company, and in 1954, founded Great Pacific Life Assurance Corporation. RCBC followed six years later, opening its first branch in 1960. He established his AY Foundation in 1970, and acquired Mapua Institute of Technology in 1999.

The Heiress: Helen Yuchengco-Dee
Commerce, Assumption College; MBA De La Salle University
Current Role:
Although she has a number of brothers, Helen has been seen as her father’s successor. She serves as chair of RCBC, National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines, and House of Investments. She also holds directorships in several of the Yuchengco firms, including GREPALIFE, Malayan Insurance, and Mico Equities.


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Pierre A. Calasanz
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