MALACAÑANG on Monday, November 11, extended its condolences to the families of John Gokongwei Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings Inc., and Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., president of Philippine Airlines Holdings Incorporated.
Gokongwei, 93, died on November 9, 2019 at the Manila Doctors' Hospital. Tan, 53, passed away Monday after collapsing due to aneurysm.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo offered deep condolences to Gokongwei's surviving wife Elizabeth, and children Lance, Robina, Lisa, Faith, Hope and Marcia.
He said Gokongwei, one of the leading taipans in the country, was a visionary and pillar of the Philippine economy.
Panelo described him as an "exceptional and ideal Filipino" who exemplified the following traits: "industrious, disciplined, indefatigable, creative, generous, always hungry for knowledge, grateful and never forgetting his origins, and most of all, a loving person to his family and his country."
"Our people recognize Mr. Gokongwei's amazing journey as a self-made industrialist, respected business leader, and generous philantropist. A grateful nation respects the man for the indelible legacy he made in the fields of business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy," Panelo said.
Gokongwei was born into a wealthy family in Cebu, but the death of his father forced him to earn a living at 13. He went around on his bicycle selling peanuts, soap, candles and thread.
"From thence begun his journey of hard work, discipline, creativity, perseverance, accumulating vast business knowledge and acquiring entrepreneurial acumen in the process, until he built a giant of a business empire," Panelo said.
Gokongwei built a cornstarch plant in 1957, which became the seed that grew into various business enterprises that compose JG Summit which is engaged in food manufacturing (Universal Robina Corporation) to real estate (Robinsons Land), air transportation (Cebu Pacific), retail (Robinsons Retail Holdings Incorporated), banking (Robinsons Bank), and petrochemicals (JG Petrochemicals), among others.
Together with his siblings, Gokongwei also established the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation and donated P20 billion, considered the biggest philanthropic endowment in Philippine history, to fund student scholarships and faculty research.
The foundation also financed the construction of learning facilities such as continuing schools for young engineers, preschool buildings and children libraries.
Panelo said Gokongwei left a legacy to the Filipino nation and the coming generation worth emulating.
He said Gokongwei, in a speech before his alma mater San Carlos University, "gave us a glimpse of the secret of his success and exemplary character: 'I always tell my children, grandchildren, colleagues: Love your work. Work hard for it. Love your family. Love your country. Never stop learning. And always look back and be grateful where you came from.'"
Gokongwe's wake is held from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, November 11 to Thursday, November 14 at Heritage Park in Taguig City, Metro Manila.
Daily Masses are celebrated at 7 p.m. while the funeral Mass will be at 8 .m. on Friday, November 15, also at Heritage Park.
On Tan, Panelo said he was impressed by the man.
“Bong Tan impressed me as a humble person, with a serious mien but with a ready smile to whomsoever he met in social events and official functions. Given his social stature, he never threw his weight around and always ready to lend his hand to anyone who approached him for assistance,” he said.
“He was a good friend, a kind-hearted brother to his siblings, a loving and dutiful son to his parent, and an efficient and competent corporate man,” the Palace official added.
Tan was the namesake of his father Lucio Tan, another taipan.
“The Palace has been informed of the passing of Mr. Lucio 'Bong' Tan, Jr., president and chief operating officer of PAL Holdings, Inc., this morning, November 11,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“The Office of the President expresses its deep condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the Tan family, especially to Mr. Lucio Tan, his wife and his children, on the untimely demise of Mr. Bong Tan at the age of 53,” he added.
Tan collapsed during a basketball match in Mandaluyong City. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and declared in stable condition.
“As family, friends and colleagues pay tribute to the life of Mr. Bong Tan, we fervently ask the Almighty to grant him eternal repose and pray that perpetual light shine upon him as he rests in happiness and peace,” he said. (NASE/SunStar Philippines)