The local business scene was once filled with deep sadness as business icon and philanthropist Dr. George S.K. Ty, founder of Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), passed away last Nov. 23. In his 86 years of existence, Dr. Ty had an incredible journey to success, a tale that truly inspires.

Dr. Ty built a fortune in the financial services industry after experiencing difficulty in securing a loan for his family business. Despite not having extensive knowledge of the banking industry, the then 29-year-old Dr. Ty established the first office of Metrobank in 1962 on the first and second floors of Wellington Building in Plaza Calderon, Binondo, Manila.

In a short span of time, Metrobank has grown to be a leading provider of corporate and consumer banking products and services in the Philippines. With such success, Dr. Ty decided to give back to the society by establishing the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. in 1979.

The foundation has served as the primary vehicle of Metrobank Group of Companies for its corporate social responsibility initiatives. Through the years, it has implemented various programs in key sectors, including education, visual arts and design, and health care; and has maintained a dynamic partnership with other organizations that provide assistance to the underprivileged and marginalized sectors of the society. The foundation is guided by Dr. Ty’s principle that “leadership in business implied leadership in community service.”

Beyond banking, the Chinese-Filipino businessman succeeded in other industries, holding chairmanship in various giant Philippine firms. Among others, Dr. Ty served as the group chairman of GT Capital Holdings, Inc., one of the biggest conglomerates listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange today.

GT Capital is the primary vehicle of the Ty family for holding and managing its diversified business interests. The investment group has directly-held interests in Metrobank, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp., Federal Land, Inc., Property Company of Friends, Inc., Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corp., Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Toyota Financial Services Philippines Corp., and Toyota Manila Bay Corp.

Through his entrepreneurial spirit and hard work, Dr. Ty, whose net worth hit $2.8 billion as of Nov. 28 based on data from Forbes Magazine, became the ninth wealthiest Filipino on Forbes’ 2018 list of 50 richest people in the Philippines.

Over the years, the visionary businessman received various accolades and citations for his outstanding leadership, remarkable accomplishments, and substantial contributions to nation-building. Among these are the Management Man of the Year 2006 from the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) in 2007; the Order of Lakandula with a rank of Bayani conferred by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010; the Gawad Lakan ng Kalakalan presented by former President Benigno S. C. Aquino III in 2011; the CEO (Communication Excellence in Organizations) Excel Lifetime Award from the International Association of Business Communicators in 2012; and the Grand Exemplar Medallion in 2014.

Last year, Dr. Ty received the 2017 Ramon V. Del Rosario Award for Nation Building conferred by the Junior Chamber International Manila and the Asian Institute of Management’s Center for Corporate Responsibility.

In the same year, he was conferred with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan. It is one of the highest awards in Japan given to persons who have made invaluable contributions to international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field, development in social welfare, and preservation of the environment.

In particular, Dr. Ty was recognized for his efforts in strengthening Philippine-Japanese economic relations. He undertook landmark joint ventures with several Japanese companies in key sectors, including automotive, real estate development, investment banking, insurance and consumer finance. Dr. Ty also played a critical role in facilitating the entry of Japanese investments into the Philippines, which contributed significantly to the country’s economic development.

Earlier this month, Dr. Ty also received the 2018 MVP Bossing Lifetime Achievement Award from PLDT, Inc., in recognition of his successful career in business, built with an unwavering honesty and commitment to entrepreneurial vision.

Dr. Ty’s journey, however, came to an end. It was confirmed by Metrobank last Friday through a statement, but the cause of death was not disclosed.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of our beloved Founder and Group Chairman Dr. George S.K. Ty. He was surrounded by family and loved ones at the time,” Metrobank said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) extended its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Ty through a statement last Sunday, Nov. 24, noting that it will always be grateful to Dr. Ty for his lifelong commitment to the advancement of education, culture and arts in the country through various programs and initiatives spearheaded by the Metrobank Foundation.

“The life and works of Dr. Ty reflect his genuine desire and noble goal to contribute to societal development and nation-building. His legacy will live on as every year outstanding Filipinos will remind us that where there is service beyond excellence, there is joy, and there is a future for our learners,” DepEd said.

Malacañang also paid tribute to Dr. Ty. In a statement on Monday, Nov. 25, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described the late businessman as a “visionary and pillar of the Philippine economy.”

“Mr. Ty indeed exemplified the outstanding Filipino. He will be missed,” he said. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino