Remembering George S.K. Ty: the legacy of a titan

Most people might remember Dr. George S.K. Ty as a successful business tycoon who founded the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank). But for those who witnessed his generosity and passion in helping others, he is more likely remembered as a philanthropist who was always driven by a purpose higher than profit.

In 1979, 16 years after the founding of Metrobank, Dr. Ty established the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) to serve as the bank’s venue to contribute to the advancement of the society. The Foundation is guided by Dr. Ty’s principle that “Leadership in business implied leadership in community service.”

Over the years, MBFI has implemented various programs on education, visual arts and design, and health; and has maintained a dynamic partnership with other organizations that provide assistance to the underprivileged and marginalized sectors of the society. The Foundation has also remained responsive to aid survivors of natural calamities in the country and the region through relief and rehabilitation efforts.

One of the advocacies closest to Dr. Ty’s heart was education, which he believed is a significant key to unlock a future of possibilities. This pushed MBFI to develop a multi-pronged approach to education development by introducing some student- and teacher-centered initiatives such as Metrobank-MTAP-DepEd Math Challenge (MMC), MetroGold Scholarship Program, and National Teachers’ Month celebration.

The MMC is an annual mathematics competition, in partnership with the Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP) and the Department of Education (DepEd), aimed at raising the competitiveness of elementary and high school students. It is the longest running math competition in the country with more than half a million students participating in the nationwide elimination rounds yearly, attracting students from both private and public schools.

The MetroGold Scholarship Program, on the other hand, provides financial assistance to underprivileged but academically-deserving students, giving them the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, the National Teachers’ Month celebration encourages the different sectors of the society to pay tribute to the teaching profession.

In the field of arts and design, MBFI pioneered the Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE) that has been recognizing the talent and hard work of young Filipino artists, and has been continuously promoting the Philippine art culture.

Since 1984, the program has given recognitions to hundreds of young artists, and has supported various art activities including exhibits of competition winners, art workshops, facilities improvement of museums and schools, among others.

Recognizing the importance of proper health care in securing an overall well-being, MBFI acquired a controlling interest in the Manila Doctors Hospital, which is one of the most esteemed centers of wellness in the country. As the health care arm of the Foundation, Manila Doctors has been offering a wide array of social services such as subsidies for in-house patients, outreach programs, medical missions, and other health-related interventions in adopted communities.

The MBFI has also been contributing to the rebuilding of lives and communities affected by disasters through its Grants and Calamity Assistance Programs that provide financial support for worthwhile projects that are aligned with the thrusts of the Foundation on education, health care, and visual arts, as well as the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Moreover, with Dr. Ty’s desire to honor and nurture outstanding public servants from among the ranks of academe, military, police and media, MBFI initiated various recognition programs. The Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT), for instance, recognizes the country’s top educators aimed at fostering a culture of excellence and community service for the teaching profession.

The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS), on the other hand, honors the valor, gallantry, and self-sacrifice demonstrated by the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); while the Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service (COPS) affirms the shared responsibility between gallant police officers and the community on crime prevention and solution.

The MBFI also established the Search for Journalists of the Year (JOY), which honors distinguished Filipino journalists for their body of work that has contributed to the development of the nation and inspired other media practitioners.

With all its benevolent initiatives, the MBFI has emerged as one of the country’s most active corporate philanthropic organizations, and has garnered various awards across and outside the country.

“From the very beginning, the Foundation was given the wherewithal to carry out Metrobank’s commitment to nation building, intervening in different sectors to address the underserved, as well as cultivating a culture of excellence among our countrymen,” MBFI President Aniceto M. Sobrepeña said in a eulogy he delivered at the funeral services for Dr. Ty last year.

The eulogy, which spoke about Dr. Ty’s generosity and passion to help others through the MBFI, bagged the Quill Professional Excellence Award in the 17th Philippine Quill Awards.

From the words of Mr. Sobrepeña, Dr. Ty’s leadership was born of a generous heart. “He was not indulgent but focused and definitive about how he wanted to help others. He liked to help others but he did it responsibly, so that the assistance was enabling and empowering,” he said.

Mr. Sobrepeña added that, “While Dr. Ty appreciated the many accolades and recognition of his successful enterprises, it was the distinction of being named one of Fortune magazine’s Heroes of Philanthropy that meant more to him. When he was named one of the wealthiest men in the Philippines, he said: ‘We can spend more money now and do more for the community’.” — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino