Battle of the Billionaire Heiresses

Published August 5, 2020, 8:13 PM

by Krizette Laureta-Chu

Tell us—which Pinay heiress are you siding with?

THE CLASH Doris Magsaysay Ho, photo from The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; and Josie Cruz Natori, photo from

Chalk this one up to one of the things many of us won’t need to bother our pretty little heads with—how to go head to head against a fellow power woman and billionaire (small mercy).

On top of the many restrictions brought about by quarantine, two billionaire, powerful, and glamorous lady bosses have to face the dire inconvenience of fighting about a P3 billion worth of property in Cebu. Such a huge hassle in these times when we badly need to Koombayah, don’t you think?

Here’s the gist:

This would just be a run-of-the-mill court case if it were not for the personalities involved.

Our leading ladies: Josie Cruz Natori, daughter of construction magnate FF Cruz, who built roads, infrastructure, power plants, piers, and the property being debated about, a 196-hectare reclamation area in Mandaue City, Cebu.

The other leading lady is Doris Magsaysay Ho, president and CEO of the Magsaysay Group, one of Asia’s largest suppliers of sea manpower. She is the daughter of Robert Ho, who founded the shipping company, and Anita Magsaysay Ho, an iconic Filipina painter whose works are in the Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings by Filipinos. (One work at Christie’s Hong Kong is valued at over P88 million, and the other was sold for P52,560,000 at the León Gallery’s Spectacular Mid-Year Auction 2015).

But enough about their parents. The women are powerhouses themselves.

On her own, Josie built The Natori Company, a global fashion brand, but was, before that, a Wall Street powerhouse, the first female vice president in an investing firm. Doris is credited for expanding her father’s business, a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Fashion empress Josie’s family is seeking to eject the company of shipping heiress Doris from their Cebu seaside property. Ho’s company rents two hectares out of the ginormous 196-hectare-property. The two-hectare, P3 billion worth property is an inheritance to Josie and siblings, from their father, who passed away in 2013.

Ho’s NMC Container Lines wants the Manila Regional Trial Court to make FF Cruz and Co’s reclamation subsidiary Mareco to sell the land to them. 

According to NMC, FF Cruz gave them the “option to purchase and offer to sell,” when Ho leased the property for five years beginning in 2003. In 2008, NMC chose to extend the lease instead of purchasing the property. Before the 2018 lease expired, NMC claimed that it is now entitled to purchase the Cebu land at the price it was offered for in 2003, at P11,000 per square meter, payable over a period of five years.

According to court documents, Ho accused FF Cruz’s heirs of “bad faith and in reckless, wanton, oppressive, and malevolent violation of (their) binding contractual obligations” after the Cruz heirs maintained that what their father instead gave Ho was a right of first refusal predicated at best on a contract to sell, not a contract of sale.

Ho’s lawyers told them that this is their only right, right now (aka annotation of adverse claim): “The only rights remaining to FF Cruz is to accept payment of the purchase price and to withhold the issuance of the title for registration purposes in case of the failure of NMC Container to pay the purchase price.

This, of course, did not sit well with steely Josie Natori’s lawyer, who then filed an ejectment case against Ho’s company. Josie smartly filed this in Cebu, as Ho’s case is in Manila. This means, for us not very legally enlightened, that the Cebu case just made Ho’s container shipping company a “squatter,” and they can be ejected, even as we speak, while Manila’s case is being debated on.

It will indeed be a very fascinating battle to watch to see which heiress will have to wave the white flag. (Does this mean, by the way, that there will be no more epic Josie Natori x Doris Magsaysay Ho-hosted arts and culture events in the future?)