Remembering George S.K. Ty: the Legacy of a Titan

The legendary icon of Civil Rights, Martin Luther King, once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

As one of the Philippines’ most influential luminaries, Dr. George S.K. Ty, on Nov. 23, 2018, has left the world brighter than when he had entered it.

When he passed away, he was the chair of GT Capital Holdings, Inc., a holding company with interests in many of the country’s most important sectors, and was known as the founder of Metrobank, the second-largest bank in the Philippines.

As its chair, Dr. Ty had an outsized contribution in GT Capital’s interests, which include Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation, Federal Land, Inc., Property Company of Friends, Inc., Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Toyota Financial Services Philippines Corporation, and Toyota Manila Bay Corporation.

However, most of Dr. Ty’s renown comes from his accomplishments in the banking sector. As Metrobank is one of the country’s foremost largest banks, it has garnered a diversified business portfolio in investment banking, thrift banking, leasing and financing, bancassurance, and credit cards.

Dr. Ty started the company at the age of 29 with his colleagues in 1962 to provide financial services to the Filipino-Chinese community, and in no time at all, the bank has expanded beyond Philippine shores. It established its first international branch in Taipei in 1970, and a representative office in Hong Kong in 1973. From there, Metrobank began sprouting branches in locations as far as London, New York, Taichung, Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai.

Nowadays, Metrobank has almost a thousand branches with more than two thousand automated teller machines nationwide.

As one of the country’s wealthiest people, Dr. Ty never lost sight of his responsibilities to his countrymen. He also founded the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI), which acted as the corporate social responsibility (CSR)  of the Metrobank Group.

Since the foundation of the organization, MBFI has emerged as one of the country’s most active corporate philanthropic organizations, undertaking a wide range of CSR programs in such key sectors as education, visual arts, and health care, as well as handing grants to charitable institutions in the Philippines and in other parts of Asia. The Foundation also partners with like-minded organizations that contribute towards the common goal of nation-building.

Among MBFI’s flagship programs are the Search for Outstanding Filipinos, Metrobank Art and Design Excellence (MADE), Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT), College Scholarship Program (CSP), Metrobank-MTAP-DepEd Math Challenge (MMC), The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS), and Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS). These programs seek to recognize and honor the best of the country’s public servants, unnamed heroes who play the most important roles in building a just and enlightened society.

In addition, MBFI pledges its support for programs aimed at educating Filipinos on issues through research and lectures given by the distinguished holders of the Metrobank Foundation Professorial Lecture established by the Foundation in partnership with reputable educational institutions.

“Dr. George S.K. Ty, Metrobank Group Founder and Chairman, has always been driven by a purpose higher than profit — he envisions his business to be a force for the benefit of the Filipino people,” the Metrobank Foundation wrote on the GT Capital web site.

Remembering a titan

Such is the legacy of Dr. Ty that after his passing, many Filipinos inspired by him honored his memory by raising a total of P7 million to donate to chosen charities in his memory. The amount was donated to CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Philippine Red Cross, and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).

MBFI President Aniceto Sobrepeña and MBFI Executive Director Nicanor Torres, Jr. led the turnover of the first tranche of donations to the PDRF represented by its president Butch Meily and executive director Veronica Gabaldon.

GT Foundation, Inc. (GTFI), the Ty family foundation, contributed P3 million to the total and designated two more organizations to be the recipients: the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) for its school building program and the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Manny V. Pangilinan, a Philippine business icon in his own right, the managing director and CEO of First Pacific Company Limited and CEO of many prominent Philippine businesses such as PLDT and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, wrote a eulogy that celebrated Dr. Ty’s astuteness and wisdom both as a businessman and a mentor.

“In business, strong passions are the norm. Mr. Ty was a strong man. He was shrewd. He was decisive. I have seen him make decisions that could determine the fortunes of a business — as in our case 18 years ago. Those were his finest hours,” Mr. Pangilinan wrote.

“Where did that confidence come from? Where was that strength acquired? It is the courage of a boy who left China when he was young. It is the courage of a young man who dared to dream big things and act on them — Metrobank being the outstanding example. It is the courage of a man who waited on the Lord to finally call him home,” he added.

Dr. Ty’s life had cast a brilliant light that lives on in everyone he has affected, both through his own personal deeds or through those of his companies. Through his dedication and commitment to serving the country, he has driven away much of the darkness in his fellow Filipino’s lives and has inspired countless others to do the same.

“I heard it said that people die twice — once, with their last breath, and once more, later on, when people say their name for the last time. I’d like to think that Mr. Ty made sure that his second death does not happen — that indeed, we will remember him for a long time,” Mr. Pangilinan wrote. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran