‘He spoke softly but wrote large checks,’ Recto says of Gokongwei’s generosity

Published November 10, 2019, 12:39 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Hannah Torregoza

Senators on Sunday paid tribute to business tycoon John Gokongwei, remembering him as a man who was big on “vision, dreams and kindness.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Mr. John was a national flag carrier who planted Filipino greatness in other lands and in the minds of his people that yes, a poor promdi like him can,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement.

“Everything about Mr. John was big—vision, dreams, kindness—yet he never tired of punching above his weight, and the obstacles he toppled paved the way for others,” Recto added.

But Gokongwei, founder and chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings, Inc. according to Recto, “was also a colossus of generosity.”

“Sans fanfare, he funded schools and scholarships, so that poverty will not interrupt schooling the way it did his. He spoke softly but wrote large checks,” he said.

“We can tally the jobs his business created, the taxes paid, and the earnings it generated, but the inspiration he gave our young was the most important bottom-line that was hard to quantify,” Recto enthused.

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara also expressed his respect for the taipan.

“RIP John Gokongwei, a man who always tried to provide value to Philippine consumers,” Angara said on Twitter.

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, recalled how Gokongwei officially donated 10 mobile patrol cars to the Philippine Constabulary-Metrocom after they were able to rescue his daughter Robina from kidnappers.

At the time, Robina Gokongwei was kidnapped, Lacson was then a lieutenant colonel in the PC Metrocom.

“In 1981, I instructed him not to sound intimidated while negotiating for Robina’s ransom, snapped at her kidnappers, ‘P10M? Do you know how long it’ll take me to count that much money? You can have my daughter!” I said, not too bold either Mr. John…” Lacson posted on Twitter.

“We rescued Robina just before the ransom payment, so no ransom was paid. Afterwards, John offered P400K as reward money, which I politely declined. He officially donated 10 mobile cars to the PC Metrocom instead thru then Chief PC Fidel V. Ramos,” he said when pressed by a netizen to provide more details.

Recto said Gokongwei left a legacy of “unli-” as he ” joins the stars he followed in sailing the wooden boat of his youth, guiding brave Filipinos who follow his example that for success to be achieved, one must leave the sight of shore.”

“He started a phone company because he believed that the Filipino consumer has the right to unli choices,” Recto pointed out.

“He launched a Filipino airline because he believed that sky is the limit is for the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit,” he stressed.

“He created his own coffee brand because he believed that the rich aroma of success can waft from one’s own brew,”
He never tired of selling food because for him, no business mission outranks the duty to feed the nation,” Recto said.

Recto further said Gokongwei pushed the envelope and challenged convention in everything he did because he believed excellence can only be achieved by human talent pushed to the limit.

“The result is that for those who patronize his brands, there is satisfaction to be enjoyed, and in each, a great story to be learned,” Recto stressed.

“For leaving the world better than you found it, daghang salamat, Mr. John,” said the senator.

Read more: John Gokongwei Jr. passes away at 93