30 Business, Money, and Life Lessons from Chinese Billionaires in the Philippines

Donnabeth Aniban
12 min readJun 18, 2021
Photo by Faisal Waheed on Unsplash

The richest family in the Philippines is Chinese.

Out of the ten richest in the Philippines in 2020 by Forbes, seven are Chinese or have Chinese descent; they are the Sy siblings, Lance Gokongwei and siblings, Andrew Tan, Lucio Tan, Ramon Ang, Tony Tan Caktiong, and the Co couple Lucio and Susan. Out of 20 billionaires in the country, nine are of Chinese descent.

Henry Sy was named as the Philippines’ richest person by Forbes for 11 consecutive years until he died in 2019. He owned SM Investments, a major conglomerate in the country, and BDO, the country’s second-largest bank. The richest spot was inherited by his children the next year after his death.

John Gokongwei, Jr. founded JG Summit Holdings, Inc. which included Cebu Pacific Air, the airline owning 61% market share in the country. His children inherited his wealth after he passed in 2019. Andrew Tan owns and manages the Alliance Global Group Inc. which is composed of four companies including the real estate giant Megaworld Corporation. Lucio Tan owns a chain of industries which includes the Philippine National Bank and Philippine Airlines.

Ramon Ang is the president and CEO of Top Frontier Investment Holdings and the largest shareholder of San Miguel Corporation. Tony Tan Caktiong is the owner of the Philippines’ number one fast-food chain Jollibee. Husband and wife Lucio and Susan Co are the owners of Puregold Price Club, a supermarket chain company.

This pattern is not only in the Philippines. Out of the world’s billionaires, 34.6% have a Chinese origin. In Greater China alone, there are 1,049 billionaires as of 2021. I have observed the rich Chinese trend starting when I was young. I didn’t have knowledge then about billionaires, but as a child, I knew that the biggest house in our neighborhood is owned by a Chinese family and the biggest supermarket is also owned by a Chinese man.

Somehow, the Chinese being the richest in my own country doesn’t feel right. I can dislike them for being rich. But that won’t change anything. They’ll continue amassing billions in my motherland while I will stay poor hating them. So I’m choosing to learn from them instead.

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Donnabeth Aniban

Mom since 2011. Filipino. Former nurse and teacher. Writer and entrepreneur atm. I write mostly about life, business, health, productivity, and motherhood.