Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia expressed his deep condolences yesterday to the families of tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. and businessman Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr.
Gokongwei, 93, passed away Saturday night, while Tan, 53, died Monday morning.
Gokongwei was an adopted son and honorary mayor of Bacolod, while Bong’s father, tycoon Lucio Tan, is also an adopted son and honorary mayor of Bacolod.
On Gokongwei, Leonardia said, “Mr. John is a big loss to the country and particularly to Bacolod. He was the trailblazer who changed our lifestyle when he was the first big-time investor who built a modern-day mall in the city. He saw the potentials of Bacolod and, rightly so, the others also saw what he saw, and that was the dawning of the age of malling in Bacolod. He will be in our history books.”
On Tan, the Bacolod mayor said, “Bong was very positive on his outlook on Bacolod. When he played a major role in establishing the 1st Bacolod Rum Festival, he was looking at it as a jumping board for more business exploration in the city. It was he, of all people, who reminded us that rum in the Philippines belongs to Bacolod as its roots are sugar-based. At his young age, we can only imagine how much time he could have given to the growth and development of our city.”
“But such is life in this world, we sincerely condole with the Gokongwei and Tan families, as we salute and thank them for their key roles in the growth of our beloved city,” Leonardia added.
Gokongwei, who was also proclaimed an honorary mayor of Bacolod at the 2013 Bacolaodiat Festival, was given a special luncheon in his name, honoring him for being the first major investor to put up a mall—Robinsons Place— in Bacolod.
Gokongwei said then that it was an honor to be named mayor of Bacolod. “I’ve done many things in my 86 years of life, but I’ve never held any political office. Mayor John Gokongwei — I like the way that sounds. And to think I didn’t even have to spend months out on the streets of Bacolod campaigning, making speeches and shaking hands,” he had said.
“It is also very much an honor to be named an adopted son of Bacolod. I am Bisaya, just like you. My mother, Juanita Marquez Lim, grew up in Iloilo. My father, John Gokongwei, grew up in Cebu,” he added.
The billionaire patriarch had a sprawling business empire with interests in air transportation, food and beverage, retail, real estate and banking among others
In Forbes’ list of richest Filipinos in 2019, Gokongwei ranked third, with a net worth of $5.8 billion.
Lucio “Bong” Tan is the namesake son of taipan Lucio Tan, one of the country’s richest individuals with a fortune valued by Forbes Magazine at $3.4 billion.
The younger Tan’s death comes as he was taking on larger responsibilities within his father’s sprawling business empire in line with the family’s succession plans.
Last October, he was named president and chief operating officer of PAL Holdings, which owns Philippine Airlines, one of the group’s crown jewels.
As chief executive officer of Tanduay Rum, Tan had met on several occasions with Leonardia and former councilor Em Ang for the 1st Bacolod Rum Festival that was held last August.
Ang said that during their meetings, Tan had “excitedly told Mayor Bing how he wanted Bacolod City to be known as the home of Tanduay Rum.”
“He also said he wanted to contribute to the economic dynamism of the city through his businesses,” Ang added.*
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