Why Washington Sycip keeps turtles and owls in his office

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2017 12:39 PM

MANILA - In the office of Washington Sycip, one of the country's most enduring tycoons, decades worth of files jostle for space with unusual inhabitants -- turtles, owls and roosters.

Each animal-shaped ornament tells a story of the business dealings of the 96-year-old SGV and Co. founder, who has lived through 15 presidents and witnessed the boom-and-bust cycles of the economy.

A Japanese businessman, whom Sycip advised to set up a business in Singapore, got him started on his owl collection, after the venture turned out to be a big success.

"Once I had one owl, many of my other friends said ‘Ah you’re collecting owls’, so they started to give me owls. All these animals, I don’t really collect, but people think I collect, so they keep giving me," he told ABS-CBN News.

SGV and Co founder displays animal ornaments in his office.

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

SGV and Co founder displays animal ornaments in his office.

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

SGV and Co founder displays animal ornaments in his office.

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

SGV and Co founder displays animal ornaments in his office.

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

SGV and Co founder displays animal ornaments in his office.

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

SGV and Co founder displays animal ornaments in his office.

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

The tokens are displayed alongside Sycip's photo souvenirs with world powers, including former US President Bill Clinton and the late founding prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

The rooster ornaments were given by those who knew Sycip was born in 1921, the year of the rooster.

A cartoon he saw while on business trip to Shanghai inspired his turtle collection, Sycip said.
 
"There was an old man talking to the turtle. So I asked, what is the old man asking the turtle? He had asked a question about what he should be doing with age, and the turtle had one answer – take it easy," he said.

Asked if like the turtle, he would not be slowed by advanced age, Sycip only let out a chuckle.