Jeers thrown at Filipino billionaire Robbie Antonio's 'Museum of Me'
By Camille Diola
(philstar.com) | Updated June 26, 2013 - 1:26pm
Century Properties managing director Robbie Antonio commissioned prominent British painter Damien Hirst to create a portrait of him as part of the series "Obsession."
MANILA, Philippines - When Vanity Fair released a story "Museum of Me" on Filipino property developer Robbie Antonio's commissioned portraits worth millions of dollars, people joined columnists in bashing the art project.
I'm not a fan of excessive #selfies but this guy takes it to another level. Meet Robbie Antonio of Century Prop. pic.twitter.com/yk00Dkq4BG
— Janice Racelis (@JaniceOnDisPlay) June 24, 2013
Robbie Antonio. THE HORROR.
— Roxanne Margaret (@meganiuuum) June 24, 2013
The works collectively called "Obsession" are by some of today's most iconic contemporary artists such as Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel all depicting Antonio, who reportedly paid $50,000 to $100,000 for each piece.
Columnist Rigoberto Tiglao said that what seems Antonio's vanity project would make Imelda (Marcos’) collection of shoes seem so pedestrian."
The magazine also aptly asked "Is the 36-year-old real-estate developer a patron, an egomaniac, or both?"
Famed commercial photographer David LaChapelle, however, shed light on the Century Properties scion's artistic vision.
"The tradition of wealthy people wanting portraits of themselves goes back as far as art history. It’s very easy for people to criticize him, but the more art, the better. It will be up to him to have a well-rounded project and not just a vanity project. And the collection will set him apart," said LaChapelle, who created a digital piece placing Antonio in the midst of technology, monetary symbols and neon lights.
Vanity Fair also reported that Antonio, ever the skillful negotiator, managed to have eminent Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to design his new $15 million house in Forbes Park, Manila.
Tiglao, who criticized Antonio's expenditure as opposed to the average Filipino income of $4,998, estimated the property to be worth about P1.1 billion including the lot in the upscale residential area.
Social media expressed differing opinions:
Had a dream last night that the Vanity Fair feature on Robbie Antonio is just a satirical piece about income inequality in the Philippines.
— Pepe Diokno (@PepeDiokno) June 25, 2013
I don't get the hate that Robbie Antonio is getting. He doesn't tell us how we should spend our money so why should we care abt his spending
— Fatima de Pedro (@irrationallogic) June 24, 2013
"Flaunting wealth means people lack any style or class. It means they made their money quickly, without putting any effort into it, having no idea of what it means to actually work for your money.I would be afraid to buy condos from this family," user Betty Tenmatay Lopez commented.
Popular blogger Chuvaness, however, is more forgiving: "I don’t judge if he wants to spend money this way. After all I did have my portrait done by Crajes—though mine is more affordable."
(The Philippine Star) | Updated June 26, 2013 - 12:00am
Are you paying your trusted hospital more than you should? Do you know if your trusted hospital is charging you the right price or scaring you into spending more than you should?
In an era where lawyers and doctors advise us to get a “second opinion,” it is disturbing to know that many people will ask a “second opinion” about findings and surgeries, but don’t really do the same thing about treatment options and prices. Many of us simply “trust” that a doctor is doing the right thing and has our well being in mind. Yes, they probably do, but there are a number of them who are also in the business of providing services, promoting and selling medicines, with nary a thought or worry about how the costs can hurt you and your finances.
At the end of the day, many people end up paying 2 to 3 times more than what they ought to out of fear and undeserved trust on an inconsiderate or wet behind the ears physician working for a profit oriented hospital. Ultimately, it becomes the patient or patient’s family’s responsibility to double check on prices and treatment options. The minute more people do this, they will immediately realize how they have thrown away thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pesos by not comparing prices between private hospitals and not considering government run hospitals and the great people that work in them.
After reading my articles on government hospitals a couple of people started sharing their observations and experience between private versus government hospitals. Just so you know, these people are nowhere near being poor or underprivileged people. They are middle class to upper class Pinoys and Tsinoys who earn enough and prioritize their health. I’d like to feature two stories for today.
A Tsinoy couple recently shared their accidental discovery on the price difference for preventive treatment of rabies between private hospitals and the leading government hospital, when the wife needed preventive treatment for rabies, and when a driver needed the same 2 months later.
When the Tsinay lady was accidentally bitten by one of her pet cats last April, she thought it best to go to a Pasig hospital to get shots as a precaution. After the mandatory skin test, she was determined to be allergic to the cheaper serum Equirab that is derived from horses; she was required to get the Berirab serum that was more expensive. That episode cost her P46,000.
Two months later, her tiny toy dog bit a company driver making a delivery to her house. Although the dog regularly gets anti rabies vaccine, they chose to bring the driver to a Quezon City hospital, which is listed as the accredited provider of the driver’s HMO. Having acquired some first hand information about treatment options, the Tsinay lady requested that the driver be tested if he was allergic to the Equine derived serum. The attending physician said that it was “phased out” while a nurse later corrected the statement by saying it was out of stock. The Tsinay lady then inquired how much the treatment option using the human based serum would cost and she was reportedly quoted P65,000.
Shocked by the price difference between what she paid at the Pasig hospital and what she would have to pay at the QC hospital, the Tsinay lady and the driver agreed to go to the San Lazaro Hospital. The following is an account of their trip to San Lazaro:
“Our experience at San Lazaro…
I didn’t expect San Lazaro to be a clean, efficient and well-run hospital. Because of so many horror stories I heard before when we were young, I did not trust public hospitals. But on the contrary, not only was it affordable, but one will be properly treated. The attending physician told us at peak they treat about 500 to 1,000 cases of animal bites DAILY, mostly cat and dog bites. On low season about 300 cases. I assume these would be school days when children are in school and out of the streets.
Upon arrival at San Lazaro, it took us 5 minutes to find parking inside the center. The attending nurse told us to pay P50 for the ER (Emergency Room fee) and were given a number (sort of ID) which will serve as a permanent ID record for the hospital. When we needed to be tested for serum compatibility (to choose between human or horse serum), all we had to do was to buy a skin test kit worth P10 at the pharmacy across the hospital. The nurse took care of the testing. We ended up paying a total of P3,765 for the rabies treatment at San Lazaro. But we availed of the tetanus shots in the QC hospital since the HMO of the driver covered it.
The experience led us to believe in government hospitals and reminded us to ask around first. Private hospitals are supply and demand as well as profit driven so we should be wary about the perils of over charging.”
Based on their experience, the Tsinay lady strongly advises would-be patients to make sure to do the skin test because the horse based serum is only 30% the price of the human based serum. The skin test will also save you from an adverse reaction in case you are allergic to the cheaper serum and that’s only Ph10. Here are the comparative prices as quoted by the hospitals:
QC area hospital: P11,672/vial
Pasig area hospital: P7,695/vial
San Lazaro: P4,125/vial
QC area hospital: “phase-out” daw, but really just out of stock
Pasig area hospital: P1,776/vial
San Lazaro: P1,235/vial
* * *
When my friend Dan read about my stress test, angiogram and angioplasty at the Philippine Heart Center and how affordable it was, he immediately asked how much I paid for the hospital bills alone and was shocked to learn that I paid only 30% of what he had to pay for the same procedure at a well-known private hospital. In hindsight he said, he should have considered going to a government hospital considering he is a government official at that.
The sad part of it all was that he had to spend much of what would have been his savings for retirement a lot of which went into the annual profits of the already profitable private hospital.
* * *
We only have ourselves to blame when we blindly entrust our lives, our wealth and our choices to strangers. Our lives will always be in God’s hands. But our wealth and our choices, those are in our hands.
It is agitating to observe the wholesale process of demolition and relocation of squatters’ houses along riverbanks or waterways. I know it is necessary, but much less because it is part of an anti-flooding program and more because it will save lives. Somehow, saving lives comes across as human while solving the flooding mess sounds technical.
And that is the main point of my agitation. Government and agencies are tasked to solve flooding yet the work is not technical – it is human. Not that there will be no technical programs down the line, like dredging, for example. The fact remains, however, that the first phase of the work is to rescue lives that floods will immediately threaten. One would expect that the families whose lives are being rescued from possible death will show more gratitude and enthusiasm, but their reactions are the opposite.
Primarily, the poor know that government and the non-poor in the private sector look at them as the problem. They are either a nuisance or even worse. This is the attitude that the poor feel, it is the attitude that is exuded by the way authorities relate, it is the look of the officials’ faces, the sound when they talk. Most of all, it is the actions taken that affirm what the poor know from the beginning – that it is not about them and their welfare.
You see, the problem is flooding, not the poverty which reduces the dignity and value of the poor. As usual, the poor are simply the Unwanted. They begin to matter only when they are seen as inconvenient to the comfortable, as obstacles to more economic growth for the already rich, as eyesores to new real estate developments, and as threats to the security of the more well-to-do communities.
Demolition and relocation is not about raising the value of the poor, it is not about opening more job opportunities for them, it is not even about saving their lives. That is why they are being rescued only when the well-being of others who are not poor is affected by the Unwanted. We do not see demolition and relocation work in areas where the non-poor are inconvenienced or threatened. That is why it is not about the poor, except in rhetoric and as public communication packages to justify demolitions and relocations even to wastelands.
Poverty is the cancer that afflicts tens of millions and, eventually, the whole nation. That is a major problem. If we want to solve poverty, we have to address its causes – and the poor must be seen as they are, victims, not causes. If the Unwanted are not the causes, who are?
There was a time when the ranks of the poor, all the poor, stood at 90 percent, representing economic classes D & E. By their own effort, at least 30 percent of the original 90 percent are now OFWs and their families – and growing. I know that the public rhetoric keeps saying, from the mouths of politicians, the religious, and naturally, from the OFWs themselves, that the government should make more jobs available so no family has to be made dysfunctional by separation. But I also know that this is just rhetoric, for now and in the many years to come, because there will be no jobs that the OFWs can have here without denying half of the population the opportunity for those same jobs.
Transforming the cause of poverty begins the process of eliminating poverty. As much as the Unwanted are the victims of poverty, changing the mindset of those who wield power, who control capital, who mold our religious and ethical priorities, and who frame our perspective through academic training, also means the breaking down poverty.
The victims of poverty cannot transform themselves from lack of options, resources and maturity. Poverty is not about being lazy or bobo. Ask ten million OFWs just how lazy or bobo they were, yet managed to pull themselves out of poverty. In other words, if they did not find an opening, their hard work would have fed them but not much more than that. Today, they threaten to be the core of a new middle class in the Philippines.
An anti-poverty effort puts the Unwanted in the center and immediately begins with the sincere assurance that they, in fact, are valued and important to the nation. It cannot begin anywhere else because the cause of poverty is anchored on the non-value of the poor. If we who are non-poor, led by the leaders of all major fields of society, value the Unwanted as we value our family, poverty will disappear in less than 10 years.
Adopting Filipinos, even if they are poor, as integral members of the Filipino family means that we will create programs and fund them – just as we fund the schooling of our children according the best efforts of schools to educate them. But if the poor remain as the Unwanted, anything for them is just a necessary evil, forced on authority and the rich to placate, not develop, half of the population. The right attitude begins everything, and that attitude is not yet there, not from politicians, not from bishops, not from industry, not from media.
Everywhere in the most developed world, in the corridors of the most progressive, a common realization has emerged. Presidents, CEOs, or ordinary citizens of nations who have crossed lust for power and greed beyond all, have found one scapegoat for the world’s worst problems and call it a crisis of values.
A crisis of values. It means we prioritize the wrong things and miss what really matters. After reaching Mt. Olympus, the successful rue the way they chose one over the other. From the peak, they know they cannot stay there unless they and all like them turn around and go back for those left behind.
As Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The gap between the country’s rich and poor is widening, with high-earning individuals enjoying significantly faster growth in incomes compared with people from the middle- and low-income classes.
This is according to data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), which showed details of the country’s national income accounts that support the perception that the benefits of the robustly growing Philippine economy were enjoyed more by the rich than the poor.
NSCB Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert said in one of the NSCB’s latest papers that people from the high-income class, which account for between 15.1 and 15.9 percent of the country’s population, enjoyed a 10.4-percent annual growth in income in 2011.
In comparison, incomes of people in the middle-income segment grew by only 4.3 percent, and incomes of those in the low-income group by 8.2 percent.
With the incomes of the rich growing faster, income inequality is expanding as a consequence.
“We find that those from the high-income class have incomes rising much faster than those in the middle- and low-income class,” Albert said in the paper, which used data covering 2010 and 2011.
“While such an examination of income is rather simplistic, it points to issues about income inequality, and the need for government and society to address these disparities, and ensure a path toward inclusive growth,” he added.
10x poverty line
The paper defined high-income individuals as those who belong to households that earn more than 10 times the poverty line. The NSCB placed the poverty line for a family of five at P7,821 a month as of the first semester of 2012.
Middle-income individuals are defined as those belonging to households earning from twice to up to 10 times the poverty line.
Low-income individuals are members of households earning twice the poverty line or less.
Data from the NSCB also showed that the high-income households accounted for more than half, or 60 percent, of the economy’s income as measured by the gross domestic product.
The balance of 40 percent of the economy’s income was shared by the bulk, or about 84 percent, of the country’s population.
Albert said that there was basis for criticisms that economic growth in the Philippines was less meaningful for the majority of the population than it was for the few high-income people.
However, he echoed statements of other government economic officials that making the benefits of economic growth trickle down to the masses would take time.
Officials have said that the Philippines needs to sustain a robust growth rate of 6 to 7 percent, or even higher, for about a decade in order for economic growth to make a significant dent in poverty-reduction efforts.
“A number of people have noted that economic growth has not yet translated into poverty reduction…. We seem to be in a hurry to find changes, but changes take time,” Albert said.
He said poverty reduction was a challenge that both the government and the private sector should address through sustained efforts, including investments.
Last year, the Philippine economy surprised the world by growing 6.8 percent, one of the fastest growth rates in Asia during the period and beating the government’s target of 5 to 6 percent.
The expansion accelerated in the first quarter of this year to 7.8 percent, making the Philippine economy the fastest-growing in Asia.
High poverty rate
Despite this, the Philippines has one of the highest poverty rates among emerging Asian economies.
The poverty incidence stood at 27.9 percent as of the first semester of 2012, almost unchanged from the 28.6 percent in 2009.
Officials acknowledged that the goal of bringing down poverty incidence to 16.6 percent by 2015—a target committed by the Philippines under the Millennium Development Goals of member-countries of the United Nations—had become difficult to achieve. The government, nonetheless, has not yet officially given up on the goal.
Economists said that the government would have to spend more on education and that the country needed to attract more investments that would provide jobs for the poor to significantly reduce the poverty incidence.
P40B for the poor
Government officials, in response, have said that poverty-reduction efforts are being intensified. They cited the government’s allocation of P40 billion for this year alone for the conditional cash transfer program.
Under the program, selected poor families are granted subsidies in exchange for sending children to public schools and for making them undergo regular check-ups in public health centers.
Officials said that over the long term, the education benefits of the program were expected to give jobs to and lift poor people out of poverty.
I’m still thinking about what Pope Francis said the other day, about his being pained to see Catholic clergy driving flashy cars and his bidding them to use more modest ones. Seemingly a minor thing, it has not very minor implications.
He made the comment in an informal talk with seminarians. Catholics should “not be afraid of renewing some structures,” he said. “In Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are ancient structures, transient structures: It is necessary to renew them!” Priests and nuns, he said, “should keep freshness and joy in their lives—there is no sadness in holiness.”
That’s when he got to the flashy cars. He wasn’t talking about superficial joy, he said, the kind that comes from getting the latest gadgets. “It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest-model car. You can’t do this. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”
It’s good advice. No, it’s brilliant advice.
At the very least, it’s brilliant advice for the Catholic Church, not least for the Philippine Catholic Church. In fact, it’s brilliant advice not just for the Catholic Church but for the other Christian churches, including the various sects that have sprouted in this country faster than mushrooms in the dark. Local Christian churches in particular validate themselves by displays of wealth and power, which often take, quite apart from displays of political clout, particularly during elections, the very physical one of grand, or grandiose, edifices. The Catholic Church has its cathedrals or basilicas with all their pomp and pompousness, the Iglesia ni Cristo has its splendorous spires, often strung out near each other (look at the ones on Commonwealth), that glow in the dark like Disneyland. Meant to extol the glory of God, they only succeed in extolling, particularly for the mesmerized or resentful poor, the glory of their officials.
The irony of it you see during Christmas when the birth of Christ is celebrated exuberantly and extravagantly in this country, except in Bangsamoro, forgetting that Christ was born in conditions that make “humble” sound commodious.
The one Mass I found deeply moving was a Misa de Gallo in Real, Quezon, ages ago during the pit of martial law. Bishop Julio Labayen had built a “Church of the Poor” there, shown quite literally in this particular place by a makeshift place of worship with an earthen floor to which the community had trooped. It was still dark, the air was nippy with breezes blowing from the sea, and the kids still had sleep in their eyes. But the folk had warmth in their hearts.
The Mass was in Tagalog, the priest took a morsel of rice and a sip of lambanog in lieu of bread and wine, and when he spoke of fishes the folk understood, being fishers themselves who depended on the sea for their life. The birthday celebrator was a Christ they knew, a fisher like one of them, the son of a carpenter like some of them, a poor person like all of them. He might have been sitting on one of the benches, talking to them, laughing with them. This was faith in its barest, simplest, crudest expressions. This was faith in its fullest, richest, deepest manifestations. Pope Francis had a point when he spoke about joy not being found in the lap of luxury.
At the very most, it’s brilliant advice for everyone, Christian or not, Catholic or not, believer or not. Pope Francis isn’t just warning against ostentation, he is warning against a set of values and attitudes, a particular mindset, or a way of life, that is making the world today more and more unlivable.
Chief of them consumerism. It’s worse today than yesterday. A failing global economy isn’t making people want less, it’s making people want more, with governments themselves urging consumers to buy more to bail out sinking economies. Of course the plethora of goods spawned by the digital revolution is epic enticement of itself. At no time has the Rolling Stones’ song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” been more apt than today. You can’t do without the latest cell phone. You can’t do without the latest tablet. You can’t do without the latest HDTV. And you can’t get no satisfaction.
The only time I saw a check to this on a large scale in this country was a lifetime ago during the halcyon days of activism. The change in values and attitudes, mindset and way of life in the campuses in particular was sweeping. Overnight, the culture in schools turned from cars and status symbols to rally and revolution—not just in the “university belt” but in the elite schools. Overnight, burgis was out and masa was in. Overnight, pursuing a career was selfish, serving the people was heroic. Overnight, wanting more and more possessions was laughable, making more and more sacrifices was admirable. Overnight, luxury sucked, many children were dying of hunger in the country. Overnight, simplicity commended itself, there was joy to be found in it.
You wonder when a phenomenon like that will strike again.
Who knows? Maybe people like Pope Francis, Chito Tagle, Tony Meloto, who have walked with the poor, who have talked with the poor, who have devoted their lives to trying to make the poor less poor—and the rich less poor in spirit—can help kick it in. It is certainly no small irony that Pope Francis has commended several people for sainthood, a chief criterion for which being that one has performed a miracle. I don’t know that Pope Francis himself will eventually qualify as one, but he has opened the eyes of people, faithful and faithless alike, to a lot of things that have always been right before them.
Pope Francis visits richest and poorest on first full day in Rio
By Juan Forero, Friday, July 26, 1:21 AM E-mail the writer
RIO DE JANEIRO — He started Thursday with the poorest of the poor, people living in ramshackle homes near open sewage in Rio’s northern fringe. And he ended the day in one of the world’s most exclusive enclaves, on the glitzy beach of world-famous Copacabana.
But Pope Francis’s message was the same: Don’t let money and greed steal your soul; they can only “bring the illusion of being happy.”
“All together — show your faith!” the 76-year-old pontiff said at night before a crowd that local television commentators estimated at 1 million on the white sand of Copacabana. “Show your hope. Show love.”
He called faith “revolutionary” and asked: “Are you ready to ride this wave of revolution of faith?”
For many of the overjoyed faithful, the pontiff has started a revolution of his own — to reform a church many believe is staid and out of touch and to give voice to young people here in Brazil and as far away as Europe who are dissatisfied with their lives.
“The truth is that he’s the pope of a new time and is opening up a church, opening up a new church to everyone,” said Carlos Subelza, 28, a seminarian from northern Argentina. “He does what he says, and that wins him supporters.”
Lucas de Sousa Montes, 17, a high school student from northern Brazil, said he, too, thought the church would be transformed. “The pope came to revolutionize the church,” he said. “He came to fix what was wrong.”
The crowd at Copacabana — mostly people in their teens and early 20s, among the throngs from nearly 180 countries here for the biennial World Youth Day for young Catholics — was markedly different from the one that came out to see the pope at Rio’s Varginha slum in the morning.
Those in Varginha were poor, working-class, even from the underclass; and they watched, astonished, as Francis visited a speck of a Catholic chapel, held up a scarf he had been given bearing the name of his favorite Argentine soccer club and stopped to bless overjoyed people in the crowd.
The pope then strode into the modest home of a local family.
The throngs of faithful — as well as the many evangelicals in Varginha — could barely contain themselves as the smiling pontiff again showed his populist side on the fourth day of his historic visit to Brazil, the world’s biggest Catholic country.
“He’s so calm among the people there,” marveled a commentator for the Globo TV network as the pope visited with the family after his stop in the San Jeronimo Emiliani chapel. “What’s it like for people in that home? What might they do — offer him a cup of coffee?”
Wearing a plain white cassock, the pope then mounted a stage on a soccer pitch and told residents he had hoped to visit “all the barrios of the city.”
“I wanted to come knock on all doors, ask for a fresh glass of water, drink a coffee — not cachaca,” he said to laughs from the crowd, referring to the local hot beverage made from fermented sugar cane.
“Brazil is so big, it is not possible to knock on every door,” the pope went on. “So I chose to come here, to visit your community, a community that represents all the barrios of Brazil.”
Francis has become known as the “slum pope,” not just because of his advocacy for the downtrodden during his four months as pontiff but also because of his fearlessness in entering the “misery villages,” as shantytowns are known, in his native Buenos
Aires. As archbishop of that city, he sent priests into the neighborhoods, and those who have closely followed his career say he allowed them to engage in the kind of activism that some in the Vatican hierarchy, most prominently his predecessor as pope, did not openly support.
Francis’s larger plan is to strengthen the church in Brazil, where millions have migrated from Catholicism to evangelicalism in recent years, by bolstering support for the poor. A poll published Sunday in the Sao Paulo newspaper Folha was sobering for the Brazilian church hierarchy and the Vatican: Only 57 percent of Brazilians age 16 or older identify as Catholic, down from well over 90 percent in the 1960s.
In his remarks in Varginha, the pope criticized the “culture of selfishness and individualism,” spoke of how the wealthy need to do more to end social injustice and told residents to “never yield to discouragement” because of corruption.
He also praised the poor for the solidarity they show toward one another, saying such gestures can be a “great lesson for the world.”
And he stressed to the people of Varginha that he is on their side.
“The church offers its collaboration on all initiatives that lead to the development of all people,” he said. “The church is with you. The pope is with you.”
Hours later, speaking under a rainy sky in Copacabana, the pope’s message to the faithful was less political and more centered on the importance of believing in Jesus. “He is a friend who does not defraud,” the pope said.
Some young Brazilians spoke of how they want to see the pope, who has over the months shown he is an advocate of social justice, speak forcefully about what they consider the deep problems with the Brazilian political and economic model. Brazilians hit the streets by the hundreds of thousands in June, demonstrating against everything from corruption to shoddy bus service to high taxes and inflation.
“I hope he takes a strong posture,” said Cris Amorim, 25, a teacher who spoke about how irate she is over the country’s corruption. “The pope is here to lead on these kinds of issues.”
With three days left in his trip to Brazil, the pope still has several events at which he can widely disseminate his position, if he chooses, on those kinds of issues to his young followers.
Juliana Montesso, 36, a nutritionist here, said she believes the pope can have an impact.
“The pope has come to show that evil cannot win and that people who cheat and who are corrupt cannot win,” she said. “The pope is a chief of state and a religious leader, and he does what other chiefs of state and religious leaders cannot do.”
Richest Pinoys' wealth: P2.8 trillion, more than a fourth of GDP
By Louis Bacani
(philstar.com) | Updated August 1, 2013 - 10:44am
The 50 richest Filipinos, according to Forbes, include shopping mall mogul Henry Sy (ranked first), former senator Manny Villar (16th), Felipe Gozon of GMA-7 (41st) and business tycoon Manny Pangilinan (50th).
MANILA, Philippines - The combined wealth of the 50 richest Filipinos and their families is a whopping $65.8 billion or about P2.8 trillion as of July 2013, according to Forbes' list of billionaires in the Philippines.
Topping the list of 50 richest Filipinos is 88-year-old shopping mall mogul Henry Sy, whose net worth is currently pegged at $12 billion or P521 billion.
"The Philippines' richest person Henry Sy saw his fortune swell by $2.9 billion, boosted by the surge in shares of his SM Investments, the country's most valuable company, which reported record profits of over $570 million in 2012," Sy's profile read on Forbes website.
The second richest is Lucio Tan and his family with a net worth of P325 billion. He is followed on the list by Andrew Tan (P199.7 billion), Enrique Razon (P195.3 billion), and John Gonkongwei Jr. (P147.6 billion).
Jaime Zobel de Ayala and his family are ranked as sixth richest with a net worth of P134.6 billion.
The Aboitiz family that controls Cebu-based conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures ranked seventh with a net worth of P130.2 billion.
The country's "father of construction," David Consunji, is the eight richest with a net worth of P117.2 billion.
Former senator Manny Villar has also joined the billionaire ranks for the first time after doubling his stake in listed home builder Starmalls. His net worth is currently pegged at P45.5 billion. He is the 16th richest Filipino.
President Benigno Aquino III's uncle, Eduardo Cojuangco, is the 20th richest in the country. As the chairman of San Miguel Corp., he has a net worth of P35.8 billion.
Billionaires involved in the media industry are also among the country's richest: Manila Bulletin's Emilio Yap, ABS-CBN's Oscar Lopez, and GMA 7's Gilberto Duavit and Felipe Gozon.
The last man on the list, Manny Pangilinan, has a net worth of P4.5 billion. According to Forbes, MVP is the chief executive of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific, which owns big companies such like Philippine Long Distance Telephone, TV 5 and Meralco in the Philippines and Indonesian instant noodles maker Indofood.
An article by Naazneen Karmali posted on the Forbes website said the 50 richest Filipinos are worth a combined $65.8 billion or about P2.8 trillion, more than a quarter of the Philippines' gross domestic product.
If the latest list of the Philippines’ richest compiled by the prestigious Forbes magazine is any indication, the rising tide that is the economy gives a better lift to wealthier ships than others.
The latest edition of Forbes’ widely anticipated—and sometimes controversial—“Philippines Rich List” showed that mall tycoon Henry Sy Sr., ranked the country’s wealthiest man for six consecutive years, boosted his net worth to $12 billion as of July, representing a $2.9-billion increase from last year’s figure.
“A surge in the economy has lifted the wealth of the Philippines’ richest,” Forbes said in a statement. “The Philippines is among the fastest-growing economies in Asia, expanding 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013 on the back of strong domestic consumption.”
“The country also received an investment grade rating this year,” it added.
Top 50 worth $65.8B
According to Forbes, the top 50 wealthiest Filipinos and their families are worth a combined $65.8 billion, representing over a quarter of the value of the Philippines’ economic output.
The financial standing of Sy, 88, benefited from the country’s buoyant stock market which pushed up the value of his flagship firm, SM Investments Corp., to become the single biggest firm in terms of market value, overtaking longtime leader Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).
At the same time, confidence in the business community ushered in by the Aquino administration has also prompted a surge in corporate deal making, which Sy has taken advantage of to consolidate his diverse empire of property firms under one company.
Once this merger is completed, Sy’s SM Prime Holdings Inc. will become the Philippines’ largest property developer with an estimated market value of $14 billion—not bad for a man who started selling shoes in Manila’s Escolta district many decades— and many billions of pesos—ago.
Tobacco magnate Lucio Tan maintained his position as the country’s second-richest man, with an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion this year from $4.5 billion in 2012. The $3-billion increase made him the biggest-gaining billionaire this year, edging Sy’s $2.9-billion wealth hike.
Tan’s net worth was boosted in part by a recent $920-million share sale of his flagship LT Group, the largest equity issue in Philippine history. Again, this was made possible by positive sentiments in financial markets, driven by investor confidence.
Tan, 79, recently consolidated his companies—Asia Brewery Inc. and a 50-percent stake in Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Inc.—under the LT Group headed by his son, Michael, in what was seen as the first phase of the tycoon’s keenly watched succession plan.
Property developer Andrew Tan (no relation to Lucio) rose to third place from sixth in the Forbes ranking, doubling his wealth to $4.6 billion. The rise was attributed to the strong showing in the stock market of his Alliance Global Inc., a holding firm which also controls Emperador Brandy.
At 60, Andrew Tan has set his sights on building a casino resort complex at Pagcor Entertainment City at the edge of Manila Bay, in partnership with Malaysia’s Genting Group.
His net worth could receive further boost once he lists his Resorts World Manila under which his casino operations fall.
Ranked fourth with $4.5 billion was Enrique Razon Jr. whose International Container Terminal Services Inc. operates 28 ports in 19 countries. Razon’s newest venture is Bloomberry Resorts, which owns and operates the Solaire casino hotel complex at Pagcor Entertainment City.
Another tycoon who gained from the equity market was George Ty (ranked ninth with $2.6 billion), who added $900 million to his net worth, mainly due to the rise in value of his holding company GT Capital. He benefited from rising revenues in banking, car distribution, real estate and power operations.
A notable newcomer to the list is Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., the country’s largest conglomerate in terms of the market value of its various units. Ang debuted on the 31st spot with an estimated net worth of $260 million.
PLDT chair Manuel Pangilinan, Ang’s longtime rival in the mergers and acquisitions scene, returned to the Forbes list after many years of absence with an estimated net worth of $105 million—the minimum net worth to make this year’s list, according to Forbes.
“His net worth estimate is based on what we can prove, though sources claim he owns higher stakes than publicly known,” Forbes said.
Forbes said the list was “compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and other sources.”
“Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on July 19. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded,” it added.
MANILA, Philippines—Mall magnate Henry Sy Sr., the Philippines’ richest person with a net worth of some $13.2 billion, is also one of the country’s notable donors, according to Forbes Asia’s latest list of “Heroes of Philanthropy.”
The list is a rundown of 48 leaders in the Asia-Pacific region who share their material success with society.
On its seventh annual list, Forbes Asia handpicked four philanthropists from each of the 12 countries in the region for “boosting society in creative ways.”
Sy, 88, founding chairman of the SM group, is joined by perfume manufacturer Joel Cruz, tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. and renowned architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. to represent the Philippines.
“The selections are subjective,” Forbes staff member John Koppisch wrote in introducing the 48 leaders in the prestigious business magazine’s June 10 issue.
People and causes
“We aim for a mix of people and causes…. And we pick only true philanthropists—people who are giving their own money, not their company’s (unless they own most of the company), because donating shareholder funds isn’t charity,” Koppisch said.
The list includes personalities from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
“The Philippines’ richest person continues to disburse chunks of his fortune,” Forbes Asia wrote. Sy was also on the magazine’s list in 2009.
Forbes Asia noted Sy’s $112-million donation to an unnamed foundation in December last year, as well as his $7-million contribution to De La Salle University (DLSU) last year, to help construct an eco-friendly building named after him.
Cruz, 48, founder and CEO of Central Affirmative Co. which manufactures Afficionado Germany, was cited for his efforts to help children and abandoned teenagers, as well as his company’s yearly charity events.
Gokongwei, 85, founder and chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings, was praised for contributing at least $6 million to DLSU’s College of Engineering over the past two years, beefing up the institution’s funds for scholarships, faculty development, facilities and research.
He also made it to the list in 2008.
Palafox, 63, founder and managing partner of Palafox Associates, was chosen for his firm’s contributions in designing low-income development programs, as well as his pro bono work for Church-related projects.
“All are leaving the region a powerful legacy–whether it’s museums, symphony orchestras, a global project to eradicate polio, rural kindergartens, free health clinics or help for war refugees,” Forbes Asia said of this year’s mix of philanthropists.
Other Filipino philanthropists who made it to the Forbes Asia list in recent years were Albert Lina, Regina Paz Lopez, Emilio Yap, Mercedes Zobel, Jose Concepcion, Jesus Tambunting, Lucio Tan, Stephen Zuellig, Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez, Ricky Reyes, Washington Sycip, George S.K. Ty, Jon Ramon Aboitiz, Manuel Pangilinan, Alfonso Yuchengco, Ramon del Rosario Jr., Oscar Lopez and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II.—Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research