Lucio Tan likes to yank children out of comfort zones, son says


Posted at Oct 21 2019 12:56 PM

Lucio Tan, chairman of Philippine Airlines attends a press conference in Manila. Ted Aljibe, AFP/file

MANILA -- Billionaire Lucio Tan's son, Michael, recalled one of his first jobs in the family business -- a sweltering glass furnace for beer bottles, his father's way of instilling the value of sacrifice.

At that time, the young Tan had just moved back to the Philippines from China, where he experienced Beijing before the economic boom, when rickshaws still plied Tiananmen Square.

The patriarch, whose eponymous LT Group controls Philip Morris-Fortune Tobacco, Asia Brewery, Tanduay Distillers and Eton Properties, likes to "get us out of our comfort zones," the young Tan said.

Before sending him and his brother to China in 1984, Tan said he and his brother Bong endured "hardship" in Singapore after getting yanked out of their exclusive school life in Manila.

"He was trying to instill in us Confucian values of patience, hard work, self-sacrifice. He distilled, instilled it in his children during his dinner talks," said the young Tan, president and COO of LT Group.

Recalling his early posting at Asia Brewery, he said: "I worked in the hottest place, the glass factory furnace. It was different. I loved the job."

His brother, Lucio "Bong" Tan Jr. is president and COO of Tanduay and is vice chairman of Philippine Airlines, where their sister, Vivienne Tan, is head of audit.

Michael said that when they were children, their father told them stories about his beginnings in China, how their family survived the war and Chinese parables.

"A company has to be run professionally. To be a professional does not exclude family members, as long as you behave," he said.