Malacañang expressed its deep condolences to the family of tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. who passed away on Saturday night, remembering him for his “substantial contributions to the country’s growth and development.”
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described Gokongwei, best known for his aviation, power generation, and telecom businesses, as “a visionary and pillar of the Philippine economy.”
“Our people recognize Mr. Gokongwei’s amazing journey as a self-made industrialist, respected business leader, and generous philanthropist. A grateful nation respects the man for the indelible legacy he made in the fields of business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy,” Panelo said.
He pointed out that although he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, the demise of his father and namesake when he was 15-years-old removed the family from luxury and wealth.
“He had to work to provide for his family. He sold soaps, candles, and threads to earn money. From thence begun his journey of hard work, discipline, creativity, perseverance, accumulating vast business knowledge and acquiring entrepreneurial acumen in the process, until he built a giant of a business empire,” Panelo said.
Apart from his business enterprises, Panelo emphasized how Gokongwei and his siblings established the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation where he donated PHP20 billion, considered the biggest philanthropic endowment in Philippine history, to fund student scholarships and faculty research and build definitive learning facilities.
Panelo said Gokongwei’s passing “left a legacy to the Filipino nation and the coming generation worth emulating”, emphasizing how the late tycoon was quoted urging Filipinos to “never stop learning.”
“As we pray for the eternal repose of his soul, we will remember even as we will miss the foresight and corporate expertise of Mr. Gokongwei who successfully chartered unfamiliar territories in business to successfully launch new ventures and create an empire that made substantial contributions to the country’s growth and development,” Panelo said.
“Mr. Gokongwei was an exceptional and ideal Filipino. He exemplifies the traits that should endow us: industrious, disciplined, indefatigable, creative, generous, always hungry for knowledge, grateful and never forgetting his origins, and most of all, a loving person to his family and his country,” he added.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles described Gokongwei as one of the “great titans of Philippine industry and entrepreneurship.”
“His leadership, tenacity, vision and business acumen contributed to what our economy is today. We have truly stood on the shoulder of a giant, and we offer our condolences to his loved ones in this time of bereavement,” Nograles said.
Gokongwei Jr. is founder of the Gokongwei Group of Companies which covers a wide range of sectors from food manufacturing (Universal Robina Corporation) to real estate (Robinsons Land), air transportation (Cebu Pacific), retail (Robinsons Retail Holdings Incorporated), banking (Robinsons Bank), and petrochemicals (JG Petrochemicals), among others.
He was the third wealthiest man in the country with a net worth at USD5.3 billion as of 2019, as estimated by Forbes magazine.
The tycoon is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his children Robina, Lance, Lisa, Faith and Hope, and Marcia; his in-laws and grandchildren; brothers Eddie and James Go, sister Lily; and his nieces and nephews. (PNA)