Henry Sy, Enrique Razon Jr., Benigno Aquino, Katherine Luzuriaga, Socorro C. Ramos, Lucio Tan, Beatrice Campos.
You may not know all of the above names, but these 8 Filipinos are shaping the country’s political and economic history and have greatly contributed the country’s international footprint. From politics to business and community developments, the Philippines is growing into a regional powerhouse, producing textbook success stories and paving the way for healthy growth and sustainable development in South-East Asia. Western professionals and business leaders have a need to understand the forces at work and appreciate the complexities of a dynamic and promising market if they wish to partake in the regional business. So, what better way of doing so than by learning about the key people driving the economy and shaping the culture?
So here they are:
Sy is the richest man in the Philippines with a whopping $12.7 billion net worth. The 90-year-old self-made man has passed the torch to his children, who now run his empire. The “Retail King” has interests in retailing, real estate, hospitality, banking, mining, education, as well as healthcare services. He is best known for establishing the very popular SM Mall, the 10th largest supermall chain in the world. He is the chairman of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., the holding company that owns and operates all of his business interests. Sy is also the owner and Chairman of Banco de Oro, the largest banking group in the Philippines.
Enrique Razon, Jr.
This billionaire is Chairman and CEO of the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), the Philippine publicly traded port-handling giant Razon took over from his father in 1995. The company currently operates a network of ports in 22 countries. He is also the owner of Solaire Resort & Casino, a five-star complex located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque in the Manila Bay. The very successful resort is expanding, adding a few hundred more rooms, a shopping mall and a theater to its operations. 54-year-old “Ricky” is also known to be an avid golf fan.
President Benigno Aquino
The president of the Philippines, also known as P-noy (short for President Noynoy), is of course, the most influential Filipino today. He is the son of two extremely popular and admired public figures in his country. His father, Senator Benigno Aquino died fighting for democracy. His death spurred the people’s power revolution which saw an end to Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship. Aquino’s mother also marked the country’s history. President Corazon Aquino was elected by the people to take over the presidency in 1986. She is known by Filipinos to be a religious, charismatic and just leader. P-noy did not have his mind set on politics, until after the death of his mother and strong public demand for his candidacy. He subsequently ran and won the 2010 elections.
This scientist may be American, but she definitely earned her spot in this list for the amazing contributions she has made to medical research. Born of a Filipino father, Katherine Luzuriaga was part of the research team that mesmerized the world by discovering the first ever functional cure for HIV. They were able to administer this breakthrough cure to a baby born of an HIV positive mother. 39 days after birth, the baby was declared HIV-free, after having been administered the cure 30 hours after birth. The MIT educated wonder-scientist was featured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world.
Socorro C. Ramos
The second woman on the list has been an invaluable contributor to Philippine culture. She has overcome countless challenges and lived through occupation and dictatorships, thriving thanks to her exceptional salesmanship and unconditional love for books. Socorro C. Ramos is the matriarch of National Bookstore, the Philippines’ leading bookstore chain which also sells office supplies and greeting cards. In 1965, she and her husband Jose set up a nine-story building along Avenida Rizal which became the very first National Bookstore. The Ramos family has steadily grown its business over the years. She is the personification of a success story. Since she started as a bookshop clerk when she was 18, she worked her way to owning and operating a company that employs 2’500 people and has become a legend in Philippine business history.
Probably the most controversial businessman in Philippine history, Lucio Tan has built a vast empire over the years, having made his first millions in the tobacco and alcohol industries. In and out of courts for years, Tan has managed to stay on top of his problems, even after the discovery of illicit agreements he had with President Marcos in the early 1980’s that preserved his monopoly and ensured legislative reforms would not get in the way of his business.
Be as it may, Tan, who mopped floors to pay for his education, has to be credited for his tenacity and business acumen. Today, he has stakes in more than a dozen major companies, among which Air Philippines, one of the fastest growing carriers in the country.
Beatrice Campos ranks number 19 in Forbes Asia’s 40 Richest Filipinos. She is the widow of Jose Campos, who died in 2006 and was one of the co-founders of United Laboratories (Unilab), the country’s largest pharmaceutical company, established in 1945. The Campos family also has a controlling stake in Del Monte Pacific, headed by the son Joselito. Today, Beatrice Campos’ conglomerate produces over 300 prescription and over-the-counter drugs.