By Denise A. Valdez
BUSINESS TYCOON John L. Gokongwei, Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of listed conglomerate JG Summit Holdings, Inc. and two of its listed units, passed away on Saturday. He was 93.
The conglomerate confirmed his death in a statement on Sunday, saying his wake will be held on Nov. 11-14 at Heritage Park in Taguig City.
A funeral mass is scheduled at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15.
“We, the 75,000-strong employees of JG Summit Holdings and Robinsons Retail Holdings, join the nation in paying tribute to the founder of the first Philippine multinational conglomerate, a philanthropist with a passion for education,” the statement read.
Mr. Gokongwei is survived by his wife Elizabeth and children Robina, Lance, Lisa, Faith, Hope and Marcia.
Mr. Gokongwei has been ranked by Forbes as the third richest man in the Philippines in 2019 with wealth estimated at $5.3 billion. He trailed real estate businessman Manuel B. Villar, Jr. with $6.6 billion and the Sy siblings of patriarch Henry Sy, Sr. with combined wealth of $17.2 billion.
Aside from sitting as chairman emeritus of JG Summit at the time of his death, Mr. Gokongwei also held the same position in Universal Robina Corp. and Robinsons Land Corp. He was also the chairman of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, Inc. and director of Cebu Air, Inc., Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. and Oriental Petroleum and Minerals Corp. when he passed away.
Mr. Gokongwei was born in Fujian, China and grew up in Cebu after his family moved to the Philippines. His father died when he was 13, which forced him to focus on work to support his mother and siblings.
He earned his masters degree in Business Administration from the De La Salle Universityy and attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
Mr. Gokongwei eventually built his business empire which now has interests in food, property, air transportation, retail, hospitality, telecommunications, power, petrochemicals and banking.
Before his death, Mr. Gokongwei had turned over the reins of his holding company to his son, Lance, who has been serving as president and chief executive officer of JG Summit since May last year. Mr. Gokongwei’s brother, James L. Go, is the conglomerate’s chairman.
Malacañang mourned Mr. Gokongwei’s death, calling him an “exceptional and ideal Filipino” in a statement Sunday. It said he leaves a legacy that is “worth emulating” for the Filipino nation.
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the country’s biggest labor group, paid him tribute, saying in a statement that it recognizes his efforts to ensure the well-being of workers in his companies.