John Gokongwei, Jr
Founder, JG Summit Holdings, Inc.
John Gokongwei is the head of his giant holdings company that owns Cebu Pacific Airlines, Robinsons Land Corporation, Robinsons Bank Corporation, Universal Robina Corporation, JG Summit Petrochemical Corporation, and the Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company. But from a net worth of more than $2.4 billion in 2011 (the third richest Filipino, according to Forbes), Gokongwei started without a penny to his name.
Although he came from a wealthy family in Cebu, creditors seized their family’s assets when his father died in 1939, leaving his family penniless. Unable to keep the family together, his mother placed the 13-year-old Gokongwei under his granduncle’s care. When his granduncle could no longer support him, Gokongwei sold soap, thread, and candles on a bicycle to support himself.
Unsatisfied, he traveled to Manila to sell products from Cebu and Lucena during World War II. His initiative impressed older Chinese traders enough for Dr. Alberto SyCip, chairman of the board of China Bank, to entrust him with a P500,000 loan when he wanted to start a corn-milling factory in 1956. Since then, Gokongwei hasn’t looked back, investing and re-investing in different ventures to grow his empire into what it is today.
By: JOB DE LEON, GMA NewsAugust 8, 2012 4:55pm