Philippine Airlines President Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr. dies of brain herniation at 53

The president of Philippine Airlines Holdings Inc. (PHI), Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., died this morning due to brain herniation, his sister Vivienne Tan announced in a press statement. He was 53.

In her statement, Vivienne said that Bong’s “untimely passing leaves a big void in our hearts and our Group’s management team which would be very hard to fill. Bong was a son, husband, father, friend, and most importantly, our elder brother whom we all relied on for advice, counsel, and leadership.”

His death comes two days after he collapsed during a basketball game in Mandaluyong City, reported the Philippine Star. A basketball fan, Bong was the head coach of the basketball team at the University of the East, which his family also owns.

A brain herniation occurs when tissue in the brain shifts. It can be caused by a stroke, an injury, or even a tumor.

Bong was appointed the president of the PHI just last month, replacing Gilbert Santa Maria, who resigned for personal reasons. The airline is the country’s official flag carrier and the only four-star airline in the Philippines.

Bong shares his name with his father, billionaire Filipino-Chinese businessman Lucio Tan Sr., the sixth-richest man in the Philippines, according to Forbes. The younger Tan was involved in several other family businesses, such as Philippine National Bank, Tanduay Distillers Inc., Asia Brewery Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corp., and Eton Properties Philippines Inc.

Bong spent his high school years in Singapore, where he was sent by Lucio at a time when many children from Chinese-Filipino families were being kidnapped in Manila, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. He later moved to the United States, where he graduated with an engineering degree from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in business administration from Northwestern University.

He is survived by his sons Lucio Tan III, Kyle Tan, and his wife, Julie Tan. Vivienne has asked the public to respect their family’s privacy.

Bong’s death comes a day after another prominent Chinese-Filipino, billionaire John Gokongwei Jr., died at 93 years old.

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