Manila: Fourteen Filipinos have been named among the world’s richest billionaires for 2017 by Forbes, with their combined fortunes reaching Dh168 billion last year.
Many of these wealthy individuals started with humble beginnings and went on to become the richest people in the Philippines, with one of them working as a janitor and another at a small convenience store.
While they have seen their net fortunes decline in 2016, they still manage to stick to their ten-figure status. They have poured millions of dollars in retail, real estate, manufacturing and other investments.
No. 1: Henry Sy
The billionaires’ club representing the Philippines is headed by business tycoon Henry Sy, who built a giant conglomerate that now owns a host of shopping malls, banks, hotels and residential towers.
His total fortunes last year reached $12.7 billion, slightly down from $13.7 billion in 2016 but up from $9.1 billion in 2012.
This is the tenth consecutive year the business magnate has topped the list. The 92-year-old emerged this year as the 94th richest billionaire on earth. He used to live in a thatched-roof hut and work 12 hours a day to help his father run a small convenience store in Manila.
No. 2: John Gokongwei Jr.
Second on the list is John Gokongwei Jr. with total net fortunes hitting $5.8 billion, down from $6.8 billion in 2016, but up from $2.4 billion in 2011.
Gokongwei owns Cebu Pacific, which operates flights between the Philippines and the UAE, Robinson Retail Holdings, the Philippines’ second-largest multi-format retailer and Universal Robina Corporation, one of the country’s largest food and beverages companies. He is ranked the 250th richest billionaire in the world.
No. 3: Lucio Tan
The third-richest Filipino is Lucio Tan, whose net worth was estimated to be at $3.7 billion, down from 3.9 billion a year earlier and $4.5 billion in 2012. While his fortunes have declined, he emerged as the 501st wealthiest billionaire on earth.
Tan has interests in tobacco, spirits, banking and property development. He used to mop floors at a cigarette factory and later founded his own tobacco company.
No. 4: George Ty
George Ty also saw his net worth decline from $4.6 billion to $3.5 billion over one year, but he’s still the fourth richest billionaire in the Philippines.
Ty has invested in banking, auto, property development, power generation and insurance. He owns hotels under the Grand Hyatt and Marco Polo brands. When he was only 19-years-old, he applied for a loan to start his own business, but was declined.
No. 5: Enrique Razon
Enrique Razon is the fifth richest Filipino on the Forbes’ billionaires list. As of 2016, his net worth was $3.4 billion, slightly down from $3.5 billion in August 2016.
Razon heads the International Container Terminal Services, the largest operator of ports in the Philippines, with subsidiaries listed in eastern Europe, Africa and the Americas.
Rounding up the rest of the top 14 wealthiest list among Filipinos are Tony Tan Caktiong, David Consunji, Andrew Tan, Robert Coyiuto, Jr., Manuel Villar, Ramon Ang, Eduardo Cojuangco, Roberto Ongpin and Edgar Sia.
No. 6: Tony Tan Caktiong
Caktiong is the founder and chairman of Jollibee Foods Corporation and the co-chairman of DoubleDragon Properties.
No. 7: David Consunji
David Mendoza Consunji is the chairman of a publicly listed holding firm, DMCI Holdings, Incorporated. He was a former secretary of the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications from 1970 to 1975, during the Marcos administration
No. 8: Andrew Tan
No. 9: Robert Coyiuto, Jr.
No. 10: Manuel Villar
Manuel "Manny" Bamba Villar Jr. was born to a middle class family in Tondo, an impoverished and densely populated district of Manila born December 13, 1949. After graduating from the University of the Philippines, he worked as an accountant and financial analyst, then launched a highly successful business in real estate. Villar's companies have built over 200,000 homes, and his business career made him one of the country's wealthiest persons. He has been a Philippine Senator and the president of the Nacionalista Party.
No. 11: Ramon Ang
Ramon See Ang (born January 14, 1954), a Chinese-Filipino businessman, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Top Frontier Investment Holdings, Inc., the largest shareholder of San Miguel Corporation. He is also the Vice-Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer of SMC and the Chairman of Cyber Bay Corporation and Eagle Cement Corporation.
No. 12: Eduardo Cojuangco
Eduardo "Danding" Murphy Cojuangco Jr., with a net worth of $1.5 billion, is a Filipino businessman and politician, born June 10, 1935. He is the chairman of San Miguel Corporation, the largest food and beverage corporation in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. He is a former Philippine ambassador and former governor of Tarlac.
No. 13: Roberto Ongpin
Roberto Velayo Ongpin, born on January 6, 1937, to Luis Roa Ongpin and Lourdes Morales Velayo, is a prominent Filipino businessman and Minister of Trade and Industry during the Marcos administration. His younger brother, Jaime Velayo Ongpin, was Minister of Finance of the Philippines under President Cory Aquino.
No. 14: Edgar 'Injap' Sia
Edgar "Injap" J. Sia II is a Filipino businessman. Sia is the chairman of DoubleDragon Properties, and the founder of the Mang Inasal fast food restaurant chain. In 2011, Sia become the youngest billionaire in the Philippines at the age of 34, after selling his 70% stake in Mang Inasal to Jollibee.
The Forbes annual wealth list ranks 2,043 billionaires in the world. The richest man on earth is still Bill Gates, followed by Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega and Mark Zuckerberg in the top five.
This is the tenth consecutive year the business magnate has topped the list.