John Gokongwei Jr. passes away at 93

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 10 2019 05:04 AM | Updated as of Nov 11 2019 01:55 PM

According to Forbes, as of Nov. 9, John Gokongwei Jr.’s net worth was at $5.8 billion. Courtesy of JG Summit

John Gokongwei in a file photo taken in 2013. The Cebu-raised tycoon built a massive business empire that includes stakes in air transportation, food and beverage, retail, real estate and banking among others. Jay Directo, AFP/file

John Gokongwei Jr., the billionaire patriarch whose sprawling business empire includes interests in air transportation, food and beverage, retail, real estate and banking among others, has died, his son Lance Gokongwei confirmed. He was 93.

"Our beloved husband, father and grandfather John Gokongwei Jr. passed away peacefully 11:41 pm, November 9th, at the Manila Doctor's Hospital surrounded by his loved ones. Please pray for the repose of his soul. Details of his wake to follow. Rest In Peace, Mr. John," Lance Gokongwei said in a text message to Esquire Philippines.

According to Forbes, as of Nov. 9, Gokongwei’s net worth was at $5.8 billion.

In Forbes’ list of richest Filipinos in 2019, he was ranked third.

Gokongwei founded JG Summit, which has interests in air transportation, telecommunications, banking, food, power, and property.

Universal Robina Corp., which he started in 1957 as a cornstarch plant, is one of the country's largest food and beverage companies.

In a speech in October 2018, when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from his alma mater, University of San Carlos in Cebu, Gokongwei said he "loved being an entrepreneur."

"I earned about P20 a day by working longer and harder than everybody else. But it didn’t matter since I really loved my work. I loved being an entrepreneur," he said.

"And so all through the years, I stayed as an entrepreneur, loving what I did and working hard. And always learning from the school of life."

But Gokongwei's legacy went beyond acquiring wealth.

When he turned 80 years old in 2006, he donated P20 billion — or half his shares in the JG Summit Holdings — to the family foundation.

The donation was considered "the biggest philanthropic endowment in Philippine history."

"I will devote the rest of my life to philanthropy," he said in a Philippine Star article at the time.

"Life has been good to me, and I want to give back the blessings I have received."

The Gokongwei children have taken over their father’s businesses for a while now.

Lance Gokongwei is president and CEO of the family's holding firm, JG Summit, where the patriarch's brother, James Go, also sits as chairman and COO.

Lance is also CEO of the country's largest airline, Cebu Pacific. Daughters Robina Gokongwei-Pe is CEO of Robinsons Retail, while Lisa Gokongwei Cheng is president of Summit Media.