PH tycoons who passed away in 2019

As the era of the 2010s come near to its conclusion, it seems prominent tycoons in the country who have built their empires from the ground-up, have now entrusted their wealth to the next generation.


George Ty, who placed ninth in 2018 Forbes Philippines Rich List, with a net worth of $2.75 billion, passed away last November 23, 2018.

Ty founded Metrobank, the country’s second-largest bank, and several hotels under the Grand Hyatt and Marco Polo brands. Today, his legacy continues, survived by his children Arthur, Alfred, Anjanette, and Alesandra.


Henry Sy, Sr. at 94


Nineteen days following the arrival of the year 2019, Philippines’ richest man Henry Sy, Sr. passed away at 94.

Born Sy Chi Sieng on October 15, 1924, Sy lived in Xiamen, China, the same place where other Filipino-Chinese tycoons originated. At age 11, Sy and his family left the country to follow his father to the Philippines. There, he worked in his father’s sari-sari store in Quiapo, but after World War II, the then-Sy patriarch flew back to his motherland. However, Sy decided to stay and went to earn his associate degree in commercial studies at the Far Eastern University.

It was in the 1950s when Sy began venturing out into the business of surplus boots selling. A few years later, he opened his ShoeMart along the Carriedo in Manila, and what happened next was history.

Sy married Felicidad Tan, and they were blessed with six children, namely, Teresita, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert, and Harley.

According to Forbes Philippines, Sy reigned the top list for the country’s richest man for eleven years in a row. His latest record, which was in 2018 prior to his death, was worth an estimated $19 billion.


John Gokongwei, Jr. at 93


One of the Philippines’ most beloved tycoon, John Gokongwei, Jr., died at 93 last November 9.

Thanks to his great-grandfather, Pedro Gotiaoco’s hard work and perseverance, John was born with a silver spoon on August 11, 1926. However, due to the repercussions of the Great Depression in the 1920s, the empire Gotiaoco founded fell.

Starting off from scratch, John became a market vendor at the age of 15, selling peanuts and many more.
Surviving the war, John began post-trading, obtaining materials from the United States and eventually, reselling them in Manila and Visayas. Together with his siblings, they established an American-Asia trading, which earned them enough to reunite their family in the Philippines.

From trading, John soon ventured out to cornstarch production to raw materials for beer, noodles, and paper, which eventually became into Universal Robina Corporation—one of the country’s largest food and beverage companies.

A week after his passing, his wife for 61 years, Elizabeth died at 85, fully passing on their legacy to their six children: Robina, Lance, Lisa, Faith, Hope, and Marcia.

In 2019, Forbes Philippines declared John as the third richest man in the country with a net worth of $5.3 billion.


Also Read: Duterte condoles with the Gokongwei family


Lucio Tan, Jr. at 53


The namesake successor of Lucio Tan, Lucio Tan Jr., died at aged 53 last November 11, 2019.

Better known as Bong, he recently took up the post of president and chief operating officer in PAL Holdings last October 28, taking the reins from his father. He was also a board member of LT Group Inc. and held several positions in other Tan-owned companies like Asia Brewery Inc. and Tanduay Distillers Inc. Moreover, in September, Bong took over the position as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of the East, the school owned by his father.

On November 9, Bong was rushed to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center after collapsing at a basketball game.

“His untimely passing leaves a big void in our hearts and our group’s management team which would be very hard to fill,” the Tan family said in a statement.

Bong is survived by his wife and two sons, Lucio Tan III and Kyle.



Chung, G. (2019, November 10). John Gokongwei Jr, Philippines’ Third-Richest Person, Dies At 93. Forbes. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from

De Guzman, w. (2019, November 17). Losing Bong Tan: dutiful son, sports advocate, heir to the Kapitan’s throne. ANCX. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from

Gavilan, J. (2019, January 19). FAST FACTS: Remembering Henry Sy Sr. Rappler. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from

Rivas, R. (2019, November 10). How John Gokongwei built his empire from selling peanuts. Rappler. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from