Former Trade Minister and tycoon Roberto V. Ongpin, 86

Former Minister of Trade and Industry Roberto Velayo Ongpin or RVO, listed by Forbes as one of the Philippines’ richest billionaires, has passed away on Feb. 4, 2023 at the age of 86.

In a social media post, nephew Rafael “Apa” Ongpin said RVO “passed away in his sleep last night in Balesin Island. He was 86 years old (born on January 6, 1937).”

“He is survived by his wife, Monica Arellano, his children, Stephen, Anna, Michelle, and Julian, and four grandchildren, two of whom he got to play with before he went to sleep last night,” said Apa.

Roberto Ongpin is the great grandson of Roman T. Ongpin, a Filipino-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who aided Filipino revolutionaries against the Spanish and American colonial administration in the Philippine islands.

The Ongpins have been named as among the "most influential and enduring families of the Philippines" for their contributions to the nation's growth.

RVO, Chairman of Alphaland Corporation, was a cum laude graduate of Ateneo de Manila and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He led SyCip Gorres and Velayo to become Asia’s largest accounting firm.

He served in the government from 1979 to 1986 as the youngest minister for trade and infustry , during which he made many contributions to the development of the country, as well as defended the Philippine currency in the wake of the 1983 financial crisis.

“After leaving government, he built and rebuilt empires, including making the deals that brought the Shangri-La Group into the Philippines, Tagaytay Highlands, PhilWeb, and culminating in Alphaland Corporation, where he built his crown jewel, Alphaland Balesin Island Club,” said Apa.

He added that, “He (RVO) has been expanding to the neighboring island of Patnanungan, which he planned to formally open this year.”

“He refused to publicize it, but since 1988, he has funded thousands of full scholarships to Ateneo de Manila University, in the name of his brother, Jaime, who passed away in 1987. The brothers had attended both Ateneo and Harvard on scholarship from anonymous donors,” noted Apa.

RVO never retired, and remained sharp and undiminished by age, all the way to his last day.

His remains will be brought to Manila. The family will make an official announcement when wake details have been decided.

Apa said his post is a personal announcement and not the family’s official announcement, which will be made when wake details have been decided.