Cebuano tycoon John Gokongwei dies at 93

CEBUANO tycoon John Robinson L. Gokongwei Jr. has passed away. He was 93.

A report by Esquire magazine, one of the publications of Gokongwei-owned Summit Publishing Company Inc., said it received the following text message from the tycoon’s only son Lance.

"Our beloved husband, father and grandfather John Gokongwei, Jr. passed away peacefully 11:41 pm, November 9th, at the Manila Doctor's Hospital surrounded by his loved ones. Please pray for the repose of his soul. Details of his wake to follow. Rest In Peace, Mr. John."

Gokongwei, who founded the conglomerate J.G. Summit Holdings Inc., had retired in 2016 and passed the leadership to Lance. He had five other children.

He was the third richest man in the Philippines, with a real-time net worth of $5.8 billion as of November 9, 2019, according to Forbes Magazine.

Born in China and raised in Cebu, he sold peanuts, soap, and candles at the age of 13 to help his family after the death of his father John Gokongwei Sr.

He also sold rubber tires, textiles and used clothing (ukay-ukay) and went into corn starch production, which marked the beginning of his vast business empire.

JG Summit is engaged in air transportation (Cebu Pacific Air), retail (Robinsons malls), real estate (through Robinsons Land Corporation), tourism (Summit and Go hotels), food and beverage (Universal Robina Corporation), banking, publishing and petrochemicals, among others.

Gokongwei was an alumnus of the University of San Carlos, which conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Science in Business and Enterprise Development, Honoris Causa in January 2004.

The university cited him for being “a model and example of the creative business spirit and the confident entrepreneurial soul.”

Gokongwei was a great grandson of Pedro Lee Singson Gotiaoco, an immigrant from Fujian province in China in the 19th century who became one of Cebu’s wealthiest.

One of Gotiaoco’s three sons, Go Chiong Ut, was the grandfather of Gokongwei.

Gotiaoco was also the grandfather of Augusto Go, University of Cebu president, and the father of Modesta Singson Gaisano, the late matriarch of the Gaisano clan. (MVI/SunStar Philippines)