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John Gokongwei, Jr., 93

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Billionaire-philanthropist John Gokongwei Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings, Inc., has died on Saturday night. He was 93.

His son Lance confirmed the news.

“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 as published by Esquire Philippines.

The Gokongwei patriarch’s sprawling business empire includes interests in air transportation, food and beverage, retail, real estate and banking among others.

Gokongwei’s net worth as an industrialist was at $5.8 billion as of Nov. 9, the third richest Filipino in 2019, according to Forbes.

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

In 1957, he started Universal Robina Corp. as a cornstarch plant. Today, the company is one of the country’s largest food and beverage companies.

In October 2018 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from his alma mater, the University of San Carlos in Cebu, where he said in his speech that 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 reports said 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.”

Meanwhile, 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.

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