Wednesday, August 22, 2007

EDWIN N. AROMA (CEBU philippines)

By Val G. Abelgas

Janitor, Metropolitan Cleaners, Cebu, 1969-73.” Thus read the last line under “Business and Employment” of the resume of Edwin N. Aroma, a low-profile Cebuano businessman now living in Van Nuys, California. Above this line is a long list of former employment and current business enterprises that range from being an auditor with the San Miguel Corp. to being president and owner of numerous agricultural, financial, and management consultancy firms. Behind this impressive employment and business history is a barrio boy’s story of success, vision, hard work, and dogged determination to achieve the goals he has set for himself.

Edwin N. Aroma was born to a fisherman and a school teacher in Catmon, Cebu on September 11, 1949. As the family grew to three sons and two daughters, Aroma’s mother was forced to stop teaching to attend to the children. The family could hardly get by with the father’s income from fishing.

When Aroma graduated from public high school at 17, he told his father he wanted to be an engineer, but his father said he couldn’t afford to send him to college.

“I didn’t know how to farm nor to fish. I really wanted to study, and make something of myself. So, I asked my father to give me 20 pesos, so I could travel to Cebu City and find a job,” Aroma said. “I applied for so many jobs, and finally found an agency that needed janitors.”

For four years, Aroma labored as a janitor, sweeping streets and alleys and cleaning offices, while he studied accounting at the University of the Visayas. He distinguished himself as a scholar and student leader. He became a college representative and later a university senator. Once, when he was a university senator, some school mates saw him sweeping an alley with fellow janitors from the Metropolitan Cleaners of Cebu, and word spread around in school at once that he was a janitor. Aroma was embarrassed for a moment, but he went on being a janitor and finished his accounting degree in 1973.

When he finally passed the CPA exams and was hired as an auditor for Carlos J. Valdez & Co. in Cebu, Aroma went to the owner of the janitorial services firm.

“I thanked him for employing me for four years, and told him I was resigning. I told the owner and his wife that I had been hired as an auditor, but they wouldn’t believe it. The wife asked: Who would hire you as auditor, you haven’t even finished college? They didn’t know I was studying all the time that I was working as a janitor. I told them I just finished my bachelor’s degree and was reviewing for the board exams,” Aroma said. “When the owner heard this, he came to me and hugged me.”

“We are proud of you and happy for you,” the owner said. “You are our first employee to finish college.”

He served as auditor for Carlos J. Valdez & Co. until 1976, then became auditor for San Miguel Corp. (in Cebu and Manila) until 1978, and then was chief accountant for Mandaue Printers until 1982.

While working for these companies, Aroma continued his studies, finishing two more bachelor’s degrees — in Management and Economics — and a master’s degree in management engineering from the University of the Visayas.

In 1982, his godfather, Ben Boiser, who was living in the U.S., was offered by an Indonesian plywood company a job as accounting manager, but Boisier didn’t want to leave the U.S. Boiser recommended Aroma for the job. Aroma left for Jakarta early that year and became accounting manager of P.T. Hartaty Jaya Plywood, the biggest plywood plant in Indonesia, which was, at that time, on the verge of bankruptcy.

Later that year, the owner died and Aroma was promoted to general manager. Within six months of assuming the helm at the plywood plant, he turned the company around and made it profitable for the first time in years. He managed the plywood company until 1986, but decided to quit his job because he could no longer stand dealing with corrupt Indonesian officials.

During this time, he earned his second master’s degree in Business Administration (financial management) from the University of Singapore.

Aroma, who remains very fluent in Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia’s national language), went back to the Philippines in March 1986, and looked for a business where he could invest his savings from his Indonesian job.

“I decided on a mango farm because I found out that the demand is high for mangos, the number one fruit in the Philippines. The Philippines can only supply 27% of Asia’s requirements,” Aroma said. From a small plantation in Cebu, he now has three huge plantations in Cebu and another big one in Bohol, totalling 25,000 trees, almost 3,000 of which are bearing 500 fruits each per harvest. The other 22,000 trees are expected to bear fruits for commercial purposes in one or two years.

It takes a mango tree five years to bear fruits. But these fruits will not be of commercial quantity until the tree is eight years old, when it begins to bear from 500 to 800 fruits every year.

Aroma has now become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, mango growers in the Philippines, beating out even Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., who has about 15,000 mango trees in Davao.

“In addition to mango, I have also planted avocado and jackfruit trees for commercial purposes,” Aroma said. “I buy idle lands and plant them with trees. I make these idle lands productive, help provide employment for the barrio folks, and, at the same time, help in the ecological development of the country. I am happy to feel that I am helping in the economic development of the country.”

In October 1986, Aroma came to the United States for a much-needed vacation, but decided there are better opportunities awaiting him in the U.S. Since then, Aroma has established numerous businesses. He is president and owner of Trans-World Services Inc., which provides management and financial services to business clients (mostly Jews). “We help find financing for businesses,” he said.

Aroma, who is called by acquaintances as Mr. Future because every time he talks to people, he talks about the future, also owns and operates the Chandler Apartments in Phoenix, Arizona, which has more than 100 rental units. He also owns the Prime Appliance Rentals Inc., based in Los Angeles. Aroma is also a managing partner of Worldwide Empire Funding Inc., based in Delaware; and is controller of All Valley Washer Service Inc., based in Van Nuys, California.

Still a Filipino citizen, Aroma has numerous business and land holdings in the Philippines. He is president of Imgime-Aroma Mango Ranch in Cebu and Bohol; president of Socsargen Realty & Development Corp., based in General Santos City in Cotabato; and president of Capital One Financial Solutions Inc., based in Cebu.

How does he manage all these companies, which are located in at least four cities in the United States, and three cities in the Philippines?

“My managers in the Philippines fax or e-mail to me financial and other reports regularly, and I visit the Philippines at least four times a year to personally look into the businesses,” he said. “With the modern telecommunications systems, you can communicate with your employees from anywhere in the world.”

Aroma is not all about business. In 1988, he finished his third master’s degree in Business Administration (majoring in Global Management) from the University of Phoenix-LA in addition to his three bachelor’s degrees, and will soon receive his Ph.D. in Global Economics from UCLA.

At present, he is chairman of the board of Kiwanis Club of Phil-Am Los Angeles, where he also served as president for two terms (1996-98). In addition, he is executive vice president of the National Association of Cebuanos — USA, vice president of the Cebu Brotherhood Inc., chairman of the Children First Foundation (the only Filipino in the board), executive vice president of the Rainbow Coalition for Philippine Progress (which he helped found along with three other Filipino leaders), and a member of the Philippine-American Institute of CPAs.

He has received numerous awards, among them “Outstanding Club Leader,” Kiwanis Club of Phil-Am Los Angeles; “Distinguished Kiwanian,” Kiwanis International; “Outstanding Civic Leader,” Pamana Awards; “Outstanding Club President,” Kiwanis Club of Phil-Am Los Angeles; “Kiwanian of the Year,” Kiwanis Club; and “Club Builder of the Year,” Children First Foundation Inc.

Aroma now sets his sights to a political career in the Philippines. He plans to run for a congressional seat in his native Cebu, to enable him to contribute his expertise in the fields of global and financial management, and to help the Philippines solve its “economic imbalance.”

Aroma also wants to give attention to the Philippines’ children by teaching them positive mental attitude. “They are the future leaders of our country, and we have to focus our attention to their development,” he said.

Aroma is married to Imelda Ochia of Tubocan, Cebu, whom he met while he was still working as a janitor and she was a ticket clerk in a Cebu City cinema house. “I also urged her to study accounting,” Aroma said proudly. They have three children — Moanna, 21; Imee, 15; and Edwin Jr., 4.

Aroma tells all his children and his friends proudly that he was once a janitor, who had to work hard day and night to make his dreams come true. He has achieved many dreams, but Aroma never stops dreaming. And when he sets his sights on one thing, he does everything to achieve it. Such is the mark of a successful man.

WILSON NG (CEBU, Philippines)

Ng Khai Development Corporation’s story begins in Cebu, fueled by a man whose passion for computers matched his drive to become a successful entrepreneur.

Wilson Ng
was born in 1965 to a Filipino-Chinese family. Ng says he has three passions in life: business management, learning and writing, and computer technology. As a young boy, Ng already knew he would become an entrepreneur. At the age of nine, he was already helping in the family’s food business. Ng discovered his passion for computers while taking up business management in the University of the Philippines in Cebu. When he graduated from college, he followed his heart and worked as a programmer in Taiwan. However, Ng had to temporarily shelve his IT career when his father passed away in 1989, leaving him in-charge of their food business.

Being a dutiful son, he took over the family business but could not shake off his IT dream. When he was able to turn over the management of the family business to his sister in 1992, Ng’s brainchild was born. The company was named Ng Khai Development Corporation in honor of his late father.

Ng Khai initially started as a computer software company. To cater to the increasing demands of its customers, Ng Khai broadened its product base to become Cebu’s one-stop shop for integrated IT business solutions. It offered a vast array of IT products ranging from computer hardware, software, software development, web development services, training, networking, and systems integration. Ng Khai eventually became the recognized and preferred local systems integration company in Cebu and Northern Mindanao.

Over the years, Ng Khai has grown to keep up with the dynamic IT industry. Ng Khai now employs over 120 IT professionals to service its growing clientele. The business caters primarily to the Visayas and Northern Mindanao areas. It has a coordinating office in Manila and contracts with companies in the United Kingdom, US, and Japan.

Ng Khai has partnered with global IT brands such as Canon, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle to ensure the premiere quality of the services and equipment it gives its customers. Ng Khai is the only Microsoft Large Account Reseller in the South, and is the exclusive Visayas distributor of 3M Visual products.

Through the efforts of Ng Khai, Wilson Ng hopes to help improve the Southern Philippines’ economy by making it attractive to investors as outsourcing sites. He firmly believes that young Filipino professionals outside the National Capital Region should have equal opportunities to work in their provinces and not have to go to Manila or overseas to find suitable employment.

Ng has also established e*Sprint Software, a spin-off that produces business management solutions for small and medium companies here and abroad. e*Sprint has recently entered into a joint venture with Innovista Technologies in Manila to form E-vista Techonologies, a new outfit aiming to introduce the e*Sprint products to Metro Manila. With this, Ng hopes to successfully penetrate the Metro Manila market, one of the toughest challenges for a provincial-based IT business.

Not one to sit on his laurels, Ng attributes part of his success to his stable of IT professionals. What he instills is “the feeling that this is not only a job, but also a responsibility.”

He acknowledges the dynamism of his business, saying “there are twin challenges in the computer business. The hardware side is very competitive, margins are getting slimmer, and many products are getting commoditized. The software side presents a potential. However, there is a need to convince the local market to pay a good price for quality service and technical expertise.”

Ng, at 39, does not yet consider his life a success story. His philosophy in life sums his idea of success: “I may be a learned scholar, a successful businessman, or a good father/husband, but until I am all three, I have not succeeded.”

He is looking forward to that day in the future when he will be truly successful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

MANNY VILLAR (Philippines)

The public life of Manny Villar straddles both the worlds of business and politics. He is one of the few who managed to excel in both.

Working Student

He was born to a simple family on December 13, 1949 in Moriones, Tondo, Manila. His father, Manuel Montalban Villar, Sr., a government employee, hailed from Cabatuan, Balazan, and Tanza, Iloilo and his mother Curita Bamba, a seafood dealer, came from Pampanga and Bataan. Manny is the second child in a brood of nine. At a very young age, he was already helping his mother sell shrimp and fish in the Divisoria Market. With the burning desire for a better future and a strong determination to improve his family’s living conditions, Manny worked hard in selling shrimps and fish to be able to send himself to school.

“I learned from my mother what it takes to be an entrepreneur, “ he revealed. “And it means working really hard to achieve your dreams.” In Divisoria, he marveled at the volume of sales that Chinese merchants were making, thus he vowed early on to become an entrepreneur.

Hard work, persistence, and perseverance became his guiding principles in life. This earned him the title “Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga.”

He continues to inspire Filipinos with his life story and encourages each and every kababayan to improve their quality of life and fulfill their dreams through the very values he believes in -- “sipag at tiyaga.”


Manny Villar was a working student at the University of the Philippines, the premier institution of higher learning in the country, where he obtained his undergraduate and master’s degree in business administration and accountancy. By then, he was also putting in long hours as fish and shrimp trader, where the action starts during the ungodly hours of the morning when the catch lands on the market.

After graduation, he tried his hand as an accountant at the country’s biggest accounting firm, Sycip Gorres and Velayo (SGV). He resigned shortly though to venture on his own seafood delivery business.

When a restaurant he was delivering stocks to did not pay him, he printed out “meal tickets” which he persuaded the restaurant owners to honor. He then sold these tickets at a discounted price to office workers. It took him one year to liquidate his receivables.

He worked briefly as a financial analyst at the Private Development Corporation of the Philippines. His job was to sell World Bank loans, despite the attractive rates of which there were no takers. Convinced that he could make it on his own again, he quit his job and promptly availed of one of the loans.

So with an initial capital of P10,000 in 1975, Villar purchased two reconditioned trucks and started his sand-and-gravel business in Las Piñas.

Housing Innovator

It is here while delivering construction materials to big developers that Manny Villar came up with the idea of selling house and lot packages when the convention then was for homeowners to buy lots and build on them.

Manny Villar became the housing industry leader, and the biggest homebuilder in Southeast Asia, having built more than 100,000 houses for the poor and middle class Filipino families.

He then initiated mass housing projects to achieve economies of scale. His various innovations practically created the country’s mass housing industry. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism calls him “the dean of the (Philippine) real estate industry.”

Awards and Distinctions

For his business achievements, he was made cover story in the Far Eastern Economic Review. And his life story was also featured in Asiaweek, Forbes, AsiaMoney and Asian Business Review.

He garnered various awards such as the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (1986) by the Philippine Jaycees, Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Marketing Management (1989), Most Outstanding CPA by the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (1990) and Most Outstanding UP Alumnus (1991).

Political Career

In a stunning political debut in 1992, Villar won with the most overwhelming mandate among congressmen in Metro Manila. He promptly applied his economic and managerial expertise as a key member of the House’s economic team, marshalling in economic reform measures of the Ramos Administration such as the New Foreign Investments Act and the restructuring of the Central Bank of the Philippines. He was the House representative in the government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C. in 1992.

He also oversaw various infrastructure projects in his districts like the construction of concrete roads and the Alabang-Zapote Flyover. He introduced the “Friendship Route” to ease the traffic problems in southern Manila by persuading subdivision homeowners to open up their roads to the general public.

He succeeded in passing Republic Act 8003 “Declaring Certain Areas in Las Piñas as Tourist Spots”. The law formalized his program of rehabilitating historical and cultural landmarks in Las Piñas starting with the world-famous Bamboo Organ Church. The ongoing project dubbed as “Las Piñas Historical Corridor” covers the stretch of the Old District and may even rival the Intramuros and Vigan restoration projects.

A staunch environmentalist, he initiated a privately funded tree planting drive in his district. He developed a P10-million tree nursery beside his home. He also quietly led a dedicated tree-planting drive complete with maintenance and watering of tree seedlings planted in the open spaces of the community.

When he realized that many poor students could not go to school because they do not even have fare money, he organized the “Manpower on Wheels” Program, a livelihood training school housed in a van that makes the rounds in depressed areas. The program has since produced more than 5,000 graduates and has been awarded by various government and civic organizations for its innovative scheme.

During his first term, he steered Las Piñas and Muntinlupa to cityhood. “As a developer, I have always envisioned these two communities as the ‘Twin Cities of the South’ of Manila. In fact, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa are the two fastest growing communities in the country today, he pointed out.”

For his constituency work and personal vow, he extended grants of home sites to some 10,000 poor families in Barangay CAA, Las Piñas City. Two major roads were also opened in his district; the Sucat-Pulanglupa Link Road to Parañaque and the Zapote-Molino (Daang Hari) Link Road to Cavite, thus alleviating the traffic congestion in the area.

During his second term, he was able to upgrade the Las Piñas District Hospital with a new building and better facilities. He also launched the “Sagip-Bukas” Drug Prevention Program on all the private and public schools of Las Piñas to educate the youth about the dangers of drug abuse. He also nationalized the Las Piñas High School to upgrade its facilities.

By the end of his second term of office, Villar had already proven beyond doubt his capacity for excellence as a true Filipino entrepreneur and a brilliant public servant who can get things done.

ERIC JOSEPH Q. TOLO (Businessman,Ormoc, Philippines)

Eric Joseph Tolo is one of the most admired young entrepreneurs in Ormoc City, Philippines today. His personality immersed to provide more jobs, businesses & even more entrepreneurs. His success is being admired considering all the effort he made on the line of business. Eventually, he gained his success by starting a small business with his excellent marketing strategy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

MARIANO QUE (Founder of Mercury Drug Philippines)

Mariano Que (Mercury Drug) has always believed in the concept of total customer service. This can be summed up in its corporate philosophy: "To serve you, to have what you want, when you want it." It has been its commitment since it started.

It all began in 1945 just after the liberation of Manila. Mariano Que, realizing the need for medicines, started a very humble business venture with his hard earned P100. He bought a bottle of "Sulfathiazole" and street-peddled this in the sidewalk of Bambang, Sta. Cruz, Manila. From pushcart selling and with his previous working experience in a drugstore before the war, he eventually opened a drugstore on March 1, 1945. He named it after "Mercury", in Roman mythology the messenger of gods, the god of commerce and manual skill. Mercury’s winged feet symbolize speed and the caduceus he carries the medical profession. These qualities sum up Mercury Drug’s quest of delivering fresh and reliable medicines to the public through prompt service.

In 1945, Mercury Drug introduced a better way to make medicines more affordable to more Filipinos: "Tingi-tingi" or by piece method of selling. From then on it introduced many "firsts" in the Philippine drugstore: In 1948, its first motorized customer delivery service; In 1952, the 17-hour, 7 days a week drugstore service; In 1963, the country’s first self-service drugstore; In 1965, the 24-hour, 7 days a week service; In 1967, the first computerized temperature-controlled central warehouse: In 1969, the first drugstore chain to use biological refrigerators to preserve life-saving medicines: In 1976, the first drugstore chain to expand throughout Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Upon the invitation of Ayala Corporation, Mercury Drug opened its second branch in May 1963 at a developing commercial center (now known as the Ayala Center) in Makati. This move opened the door to the establishment of the landmark branch in Quiapo, Manila in 1965 and the opening of more branches thus bringing Mercury Drug’s service closer to many Filipinos.

Today :

The company is considered as the leading drug store chain in the country with a network of more than 500 company-owned and franchised stores serving the public at the most convenient places in Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It has a workforce of over 7,000 employees totally committed to professional excellence and dedicated service. It coordinates this vast network of stores at its head office in Bagumbayan, Quezon City which also houses its modern distribution center operating on the concept of centralized buying and warehousing. It belongs to the top 20 companies in sales performance for the past several years.

As it was then and now, Mercury Drug’s main concern is customer service, more especially if it would mean saving a life. It continues to make available despite of high carrying costs, life-saving drugs like serum, blood plasma, albumin, and the like. For the shopping convenience of its customers, it carries, aside from pharmaceutical items, basic daily household needs, health care products, personal care products, cosmetics, toiletries and other convenience products. It has also incorporated value added facilities and services in selected stores.

To maintain its present leadership in the drug retailing business, the company continues to innovate. It keeps up with modern technology and upgrades its computer facilities in the head office, stores and distribution center to support its services.

These qualities of Mercury Drug earned for the company various recognition from different sectors. To name a few: "Retailer of the Year" award in 1964 from the Business Writers Association of the Philippines for its innovative service concepts; "Quezon City’s Best in Business" in 1994 from the Government of Quezon City and the Rotary International District 3780; Consumers Union of the Philippines’ "Hall of Fame" Awardee in 1996 for having been awarded as Most Outstanding Pharmaceutical Retailer for 5 consecutive times; "1996 PMAP Award for Outstanding Employer of the Year" from the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines; "Most Outstanding Drug Store Chain" in 1999 from the New Millennium Excellence Award Committee and the Parangal ng Bayan Awards Foundation jointly with the National Consumers Council in recognition of its products/services beneficial to the consuming public. In the 1999 7th Annual Review 200: Asia’s Leading Companies survey done by Far Eastern Economic Review, Mercury Drug ranks number 8 among the top 10 Philippines-based companies and number 3 among the top 5 Philippines-based companies in terms of high quality services/products.


Family and Early Childhood

On October 28, 1955, shortly after 9:00 p.m., William Henry Gates III was born. He was born into a family with a rich history in business, politics, and community service. His great-grandfather had been a state legislator and mayor, his grandfather was the vice president of a national bank, and his father was a prominent lawyer. [Wallace, 1992, p. 8-9] Early on in life, it was apparent that Bill Gates inherited the ambition, intelligence, and competitive spirit that had helped his progenitors rise to the top in their chosen professions. In elementary school he quickly surpassed all of his peer's abilities in nearly all subjects, especially math and science. His parents recognized his intelligence and decided to enroll him in Lakeside, a private school known for its intense academic environment. This decision had far reaching effects on Bill Gates's life. For at Lakeside, Bill Gates was first introduced to computers.

First computing Experience

In the Spring of 1968, the Lakeside prep school decided that it should acquaint the student body with the world of computers [, 9/29/96]. Computers were still too large and costly for the school to purchase its own. Instead, the school had a fund raiser and bought computer time on a DEC PDP-10 owned by General Electric. A few thousand dollars were raised which the school figured would buy more than enough time to last into the next school year. However, Lakeside had drastically underestimated the allure this machine would have for a hand full of young students.

Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and a few other Lakeside students (many of whom were the first programmers hired at Microsoft) immediately became inseparable from the computer. They would stay in the computer room all day and night, writing programs, reading computer literature and anything else they could to learn about computing. Soon Gates and the others started running into problems with the faculty. Their homework was being turned in late (if at all), they were skipping classes to be in the computer room and worst of all, they had used up all of the schools computer time in just a few weeks. [Wallace, 1992, p. 24]

In the fall of 1968, Computer Center Corporation opened for business in Seattle. It was offering computing time at good rates, and one of the chief programmers working for the corporation had a child attending Lakeside. A deal was struck between Lakeside Prep School and the Computer Center Corporation that allowed the school to continue providing it's students with computer time. [Wallace, 1992, p. 27] Gates and his comrades immediately began exploring the contents of this new machine. It was not long before the young hackers started causing problems. They caused the system to crash several times and broke the computers security system. They even altered the files that recorded the amount of computer time they were using. They were caught and the Computer Center Corporation banned them from the system for several weeks.

Bill Gates, Paul Allen and, two other hackers from Lakeside formed the Lakeside Programmers Group in late 1968. They were determined to find a way to apply their computer skills in the real world. The first opportunity to do this was a direct result of their mischievous activity with the school's computer time. The Computer Center Corporation's business was beginning to suffer due to the systems weak security and the frequency that it crashed. Impressed with Gates and the other Lakeside computer addicts' previous assaults on their computer, the Computer Center Corporation decided to hire the students to find bugs and expose weaknesses in the computer system. In return for the Lakeside Programming Group's help, the Computer Center Corporation would give them unlimited computer time [Wallace, 1992, p. 27]. The boys could not refuse. Gates is quoted as saying "It was when we got free time at C-cubed (Computer Center Corporation) that we really got into computers. I mean, then I became hardcore. It was day and night" [Wallace, 1992, p. 30]. Although the group was hired just to find bugs, they also read any computer related material that the day shift had left behind. The young hackers would even pick employees for new information. It was here that Gates and Allen really began to develop the talents that would lead to the formation of Microsoft seven years later.

Roots of Business Career

Computer Center Corporation began to experience financial problems late in 1969. The company finally went out of business in March of 1970. The Lakeside Programmers Group had to find a new way to get computer time. Eventually they found a few computers on the University of Washington's campus where Allen's dad worked. The Lakeside Programmers Group began searching for new chances to apply their computer skills. Their first opportunity came early the next year when Information Sciences Inc. hired them to program a payroll program. Once again the group was given free computer time and for the first time, a source of income. ISI had agreed to give them royalties whenever it made money from any of the groups programs. As a result of the business deal signed with Information Sciences Inc., the group also had to become a legal business [Wallace, 1992, p. 42-43]. Gates and Allen's next project involved starting another company entirely on their own, Traf-O-Data. They produced a small computer which was used to help measure traffic flow. From the project they grossed around $20,000. The Traf-O-Data company lasted until Gates left for college. During Bill Gates' junior year at Lakeside, the administration offered him a job computerizing the school's scheduling system. Gates asked Allen to help with the project. He agreed and the following summer, they wrote the program. In his senior year, Gates and Allen continued looking for opportunities to use their skills and make some money. It was not long until they found this opportunity. The defense contractor TRW was having trouble with a bug infested computer similar to the one at Computer Center Corporation. TRW had learned of the experience the two had working on the Computer Center Corporation's system and offered Gates and Allen jobs. However thing would be different at TRW they would not be finding the bugs they would be in charge of fixing them. "It was at TRW that Gates began to develop as a serious programer," and it was there that Allen and Gates first started talking seriously about forming their own software company [Wallace, 1992, p. 49-51].

In the fall of 1973, Bill Gates left home for Harvard University [, 9/29/96]. He had no idea what he wanted to study, so he enrolled as prelaw. Gates took the standard freshman courses with the exception of signing up for one of Harvard's toughest math courses. He did well but just as in high school, his heart was not in his studies. After locating the school's computer center, he lost himself in the world of computers once again. Gates would spend many long nights in front of the school's computer and the next days asleep in class. Paul Allen and Gates remained in close contact even with Bill away at school. They would often discuss ideas for future projects and the possibility of one day starting a business. At the end of Gates's first year at Harvard, the two decided that Allen should move closer to him so that they may be able to follow up on some of their ideas. That summer they both got jobs working for Honeywell [Wallace, 1992, p. 59]. As the summer dragged on, Allen began to push Bill harder with the idea that they should open a software company. Gates was still not sure enough to drop out of school. The following year, however, that would all change.

The Birth of Microsoft

In December of 1974, Allen was on his way to visit Gates when along the way he stopped to browse the current magazines. What he saw changed his and Bill Gates's lives forever. On the cover of Popular Electronics was a picture of the Altair 8080 and the headline "World's First Microcomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models." He bought the issue and rushed over to Gates's dorm room. They both recognized this as their big opportunity. The two knew that the home computer market was about to explode and that someone would need to make software for the new machines. Within a few days, Gates had called MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems), the makers of the Altair. He told the company that he and Allen had developed a BASIC that could be used on the Altair [, 9/29/96]. This was a lie. They had not even written a line of code. They had neither an Altair nor the chip that ran the computer. The MITS company did not know this and was very interested in seeing their BASIC. So, Gates and Allen began working feverishly on the BASIC they had promised. The code for the program was left mostly up to Bill Gates while Paul Allen began working on a way to simulate the Altair with the schools PDP-10. Eight weeks later, the two felt their program was ready. Allen was to fly to MITS and show off their creation. The day after Allen arrived at MITS, it was time to test their BASIC. Entering the program into the company's Altair was the first time Allen had ever touched one. If the Altair simulation he designed or any of Gates's code was faulty, the demonstration would most likely have ended in failure. This was not the case, and the program worked perfectly the first time [Wallace, 1992, p. 80]. MITS arranged a deal with Gates and Allen to buy the rights to their BASIC.[, 9/29/96] Gates was convinced that the software market had been born. Within a year, Bill Gates had dropped out of Harvard and Microsoft was formed.

LUCIO TAN (Philippines)

Dr. Lucio Tan is a household name in the Philippines. Perhaps only a few have not heard of the Chinese immigrant who have a great impact in the lives of the citizens of his adapted country.

Filipinos in the United States or any place in the world, could relate to the success story of this man from Fujian.


The success of Mr. Lucio Tan’s enterprise is deeply rooted on liquor and tobacco.

He owns Fortune Tobacco, the Philippine’s biggest cigarette-manufacturing company; Asia Brewery, the second largest producer of beer and bottled water; Tanduay Distillers, one of the oldest and biggest rhum producer in the world; and Philippine Airlines, Asia's first airline.

Back in 1965 when Mr. Tan was just setting up Fortune Tobacco, the domestic market for cigarettes was dominated by old established companies.

With his meager funds, he wondered how he could position his products against the more than a hundred local and foreign brands competing in a cut-throat market.

Through research and ingenuity, His first Brand, Ever Cool, made it to the market with success. Now, another product of him Winston, is a top seller in the Philippines.


With the success of Fortune Tobacco in the 70’s, Mr. Lucio Tan started the diversification of his conglomerate.

In 1970, He brought in from Taiwan the advance livestock technology to set up Foremost Farms, one of the biggest in Asia. in 1977, He acquired the defunct General Banking Corp ( GEN BANK ) and named it Allied Banking Corporation. Through innovation and restructuring, it now consistently ranks among the top 10 banks in the Philippines in terms of asset and deposit base. The core institution of Mr. Tan’s conglomerate is based at the bank’s building in the hearth of Makati.

In 1978, Mr. Tan acquired Riverside Steel, Inc and renamed it Grandspan Development Corp, a company that is recognized in the construction business all over the world. In 1982, he opened Asia Brewery and penetrated the beer market long dominated by San Miguel Corp.

In 1985, he purchased the 500-room, five star Century Park Hotel, now a favorite venue among local and foreign businessmen. Also the same year, he established Macro Asia Corp to provide catering, ground handling, engineering and maintenance services to its sister company PAL, and to over 20 international carriers landing in the Philippines.

The man from Fujian is now the owner of Lucio Tan Group of companies.

HENRY SY (Philippines)

Henry Sy’s rise to the top is a feel good story for the ages. In 1936, at the age of 12, he immigrated from mainland China to help run his father’s grocery in Manila, often sleeping on display counters because he had no place to sleep. The spartan life he lived probably played a big part in molding Sy’s character as a smart and calculating businessman, and that is probably why he is still a hands-on owner at the prime age of 80. He regularly visits his malls to check on how things are running, and is usually spotted wearing his trademark Hawaiian shirts.

Sy’s work ethic and determination has made him one of the country’s leading businessmen, and a prominent name in the international business scene. The boy who once worked 14 hours a day long before the 24/7 concept caught on is estimated to be worth a cool $1.7 billion, not bad for a guy who still keeps his first cash register (a brass one) in his office.

Henry Sy, Sr. opened the first Shoemart store along Rizal Avenue in downtown Manila in 1958. He conceptualized a chain of shoe stores, each characterized by a distinct merchandising layout never before attempted in the country. In the sixties, the company expanded its shoe store chain. It was one of the pioneers in the new urban centers when it opened bigger shoe stores at the Makati Commercial Center in 1953 and in Cubao in 1967.

In the seventies, Shoemart marked its shift from a shoe store to a full line department store with SM Echague, and later SM Makati in 1975. This was also the time that Shoemart became known as SM Shoemart or simply SM, a name that has become synonymous with one stop shopping excitement. SM positioned itself for growth in the eigthies, diversifying into the supermarket and appliance store businesses. Late 1985 marked the opening of its first shopping mall, SM City North EDSA. SM emerged as a key players in the shopping center industry in the 1990’s giving rise to the malling phenomenon in the Philippines.

Today, SM is a dynamic group of companies with core businesses in retail merchandising and shopping centers, and complementary businesses in financial services and real estate and tourism development. In early 2005, SM Investments Corporation, its holding company, launched what is considered the biggest initial public offering in the Philippine Stock Exchange.

SM’s 22 supermalls, 25 department stores, and hundreds of retail stores have become part of the lives of many Filipinos. More than 1.5 million customers visit SM supermalls everyday. These are places where they shop, eat out, watch movies, or simply spend fun times together with family and friends. SM Group is a retail giant with 38,600 employees and annual revenues of $1.7 billion. More than that, SM has made its impact in the local and international business community, and is recognized as one of the top companies in Asia.

Mr. Henry Sy Sr.’s formula for success is a fourteen-point list of attitudes and practices that one must strive for in order to succeed in business and in life. One of them reads: “Be disciplined. Second best does not exist. In work, always strive for excellence in products, service and operations. Put a premium on savings because of the need to be prepared for all contingencies in business, politics and personal life. Do not waste anything. And try to live a simple life.

The top billionaires in the Philippines

Excerpted from Geoff Hiscock's "Asia's Wealth Club"

Tan Yu
, Fuga Internationale Group, Philippines ( $3.2 billion US) Chairman: Fuga Internationale Group:
Born: 1935, Bico region of Luzon, Philippines
Marital status; Married, eldest daughter Emilia, eldest son Elton.
Tna Yu, born into a copra-trading family in the Philippines, has built up a textile, retailing, hotel and property-development operation which extends to China and the United States. But Taiwan is the major facus, where his flagship is Asia Trust & Investment Corp., and his other interests include the Asiaworld Department Store and the Asiaworld Hotel in Taipei, and Asiaworld Investment Corp.
Tan Yu has hotel and property interests in China, mainly in Jujian province. In the United States he has banking and real-estate interests in Californa, Nevada and Texas, including a sizeable land bank outside Houston. His eldest son, Elton Tan See, runs the family's hotels in Taiwan while daughter Tan Bien-Bien, known in the Philippines as Emilia Roxas runs the main company, Asia Internationale Group.

Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala and family, Philippines Ayala Corp. ($2.8 billion US) Outside of Japan and Korea, the Ayala family of the Philippines is one of the few non-Chinese clans that rank among Asia's super-rich. Founded in 1834 by Spanish settler Don Antonio de Ayala, the Ayala group has grown into a conglomerate with annual revenues of US$1 billion on the strenght of its trade in sugar, coffee plantations, other agribusiness, financial services, property development, telecommunications and aviation.
A huge land bank in the Makati area of Metro Manila has been central to the Ayala group's fortunes, with sales from its development generating as much as 60 percent of annual revenue. Other key companies in the group include 43-percent owned Bank of the Philippines Islands, 75 percent owned Pure Foods Corp and 38 percent owned Globe Telecom, where its major partner is Singapore Telecom.

George TY
and family,(from Fujian Province, China) Metrobank, Philippines ($2.8 billion US) George TY Siao Kian and his family hold a 65 percent interest in Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co (known as Metrobank), which is the Philippines largest bank ranked by assets and profits, and the largest overall financial conglomerate in the country.
Ty, born in China's Fujian province, began his business career in foodstuffs, establishing the Wellington Flour Mills in the mid-1950's. With money from his successful flour-milling venture, he set up Metrobank in 1962 with some associates, and determined to target the ethnic Chinese business community.
The bank's progress was steady enough for the first two decades, but then burst of spectacular growth in the mid-1990's lifted Metrobank out of the ruck and allowed it to overtake Philippines National Bank and Bank of the Philippine Islands for the top spot. By 1996 Metrobank had more than 430 branches, including offices in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the United States.
Manuel Villar, C&P Homes, Philippines ($2.4 billion US) Born in Manila, Philippines. Congressman Manuel Villar and his wife Cynthia control the listed company C&P Homes, a developer of low-income housing that has proved immensely popular with both its customers and investors. Foreign investors snapped up more than 60 percent of the 566 million shares on offer in June 1995 when Villar took the company to the market with an initial public offering of 20 percent of the stdock for about US$320 million.

Henry Sy, (from Fujian Province, China) SM Prime Holdings, Philippines ($1.9 billion US) Born in Fujian province China. Henry Sy is the Philippines' retail king. It is a position reached from a simple strategy: build a shopping mall, pack it with entertainment like cinemas, video games and restuarants, and the shoppers will come. It has been a winning formulas, with Sy acknowledged as the pioneer of megamalls. He built his first, SM City, in 1985 in Metro Manila's suburban Quezon City and followed with three more in Metro Manila and one in Cebu City, in the central Philippines.
The story of Henry Sy, whose Chines name is Si Tsi Xing, starts in China's Fujian province, where he was born in Long Hu Hong Xi in 1925. While still in his teens, Sy migrated with his parents to the Philippines, where his family opened a small drygoods store in the Quiapo commercial district of Manila. Sy studied at Far Eastern University in Manila and worked after hours buying and selling shoes as a middleman for shoe stores. In 1948 he opened his first shoe store and through the 1950s was able to set up a string of similar stores, finally forming Shoemart in 1960.
From shoes, Sy ventured into department stores and then into the bigger arean of shopping malls. By the end of 1996, his retail SM chain numbered nine department stores and five malls, including the massive SM Megamall in Metro Manila's Mandaluyong city.

Lucio Tan, (from Fujian Province, China) Philippine Airlines, Fortune Tobacco, Philippines ($1.7 billion US) Born in Xiamen, China. Beer, tobacco, banking, property, an airline- these are just the most visible pieces of the empire that Lucio Tan has built in the Philippines, Hong Kong and North America in the past three decades. Apart from Philippine Airlines, none of his companies is listed and Tan likes to keep it that way. No stranger to controversy on his way to great wealth, Tan sees no reason to go public if he can avoid it.
For many years Tan was regarded as the wealthiest ethnic Chinese in the Philippines until it appeared that banking tycoon George Ty had surged past him in the mid 1990's. Then again, Lucio and his brothers may have other assets that are not in the public eye. Tan, born in Xiamen, in China's Fujian province, moved to Cebu with his parents while still a boy, labouring away at different jobs until he found his corporate career in the Philippines when he set up his Fortune Tobacco Corp in 1966. In the next three decades, despite his love of privacy, his name was never far from the headlines. He was regarded as a crony of the late Ferdinand Marcos, and was alleged to have won tax concessions in return for campaign funds during the Marsos era. In the 1980's and 1990's, he faced a flurry of courtroom jousts- first with Corazon Aquino's government over whether his companies were secretly held for the Marcos family, and later with the Fidel Ramos administration over allegations of tax evasion by Fortune Tobacco. In September 1996, Tan finally onw the prize he had been seeking since 1992- control of Philippine Airlines.

Andrew Gotianun Sr.
and family, Filinvest Group, Philippines ($1.5 billion US) Born in 1927. Andrew Gotianun and his family control the Philippines seventh largest listed company, Filinvest Development Corp (FDC), which in turn holds 70 per cent of property developer Filinvest Land. The two listed companies which had respective market capitalizations of US$1.8 billion and US$1.2 billion in early 1997, are among the biggest real-estate companies in the Philippines, exceeded only by the Ayala family's giant Ayala Land Inc.

Eugenio (Geny) Lopez Jr.,
Benpres Holdings, ABS-CBN Broadcasting, Philippines, educated at Harvard University ($1.4 billion US) The Lopez name is synonymous with big business in the Philippines a legacy of the empire built up in media, banking and power generation by the late Eugenio Lopez I. Lopez, regarded as the Philippines' wealthiest business figure of the 1960s, died in 1975 in the United States, a bitter and broken man after a close relationship with the lat President Ferdinand Marcos turned soar in the early 1970's.
Today, his son Eugenio (Geny) Lopez Jr. who spent five years in a military jail during the Marcos era before escaping in November 1977 to the United States, guides the family's rebuilt US$1.4 billion fortune through its flagship company, Benpress Holdings. Geny Lopez Jr., who returned to the Philippines after the overthrow of Marcos in 1986, is president and chief executive of Benpres, chairman of ABS-CBN Broadcasting (where his sone Eugenio Lopez III is president) and chairman of 17 percent held Philippine Commercial International Bank.

John Gokongwei
, JG Summit, Philippines ($1.0 billion US) Born 1927, Cebu City, Philippines. John Gokongwei was born into a wealthy Cebu based trading family originally from China's Fujian province. His grandfather, Pedro Gotiaoco, set up Gotiaoco Hermanos in the nineteenth century and built it inot one of the biggest enterprises in Cebu. But the family fortune was lost during the Second World War and it was Gokongwei's responsibility to put food on the table during the difficult years of the Japanese occupation.
He started his business career during the war, buying and selling rice, cloth and scrap metal. After the war, he set up a cornstarch factory called Universal Corn Products with his brothers. From there he ventured into textile production, property development, retailing and, later, banking, aviation, petrochemicals, infrastructure and telecommunications.
In the turbulent days after the fall of President Ferndinand Marcos in 1986, real estate in the Philippines was cheap. Gokongwei saw the potential and bought land in the now-booming Ortigas business district, where he built his Robinson's Galleria mall in 1987.
Other major companies are listed food company Universal Robina Corp., property company Robisnson's Land Corp, PCI Bank (fifth largest bank in ght Philippines) and in financial services through PCI insurance brokers, PCI Capital Corp and Philippines Commercial Credit Card Inc.
Gokongwei is president and holds a controlling 57 percent stake in the new phone company Digital Telecom, which he aims to make the nation's second largest carrier after Philippine Long distance Telephone(PLDT). His power and oil interests are through 20 percent stakes respectively in First Philippine Power Corp and Oriental Petroleum and Minerals Corp.
Gokongwei's latest property developments include Robinsons Tower, a 30,000 square metre block in Makati, and the 81,000 square meter PCIB Tower in Ortigas. His ambitions have also taken wing with Cebu Pacific Air, an airline he set up in March 1996 to compete with Lucio Tan's Philippine Airlines on the busy Manila-Cebu route.

Alfonso T. Yuchengco, (from Fujian Province, China) House of Investments, Philippines ($1.0 billion US) Born 1923, Manila. Board Chairman industrialist, diplomat and Chief Taipan of the Filipino-Chinese, Alfonso Yuchengco is one of the five most important leaders of the international Chinese business community in Asia. An MBA graduate from Columbia University, a former ambassador to China and current ambassador to Japan, Yuchengco's influence is extraordinarily broad. Alfonso joined his father in business in 1950 and today chairs 15 companies, with 42 percent owned listed House of Investments and 16 percent owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. as the flagship vehicles. Rizal Commercial Bank is the Philippines' eighth largest bank, with assets of US$2.5 billion. Through its many subsidiaries, House of Investments is involved in banking, consumer finance, construction, power, infrastructure, agribusiness, real estate, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and services.

Edwardo Cojuangco Jr. and family, UCP Bank, San Miguel Corp. Philippines ($1.0 billion US) One part of the Cojuangco name is synonymous with the powerful business elite who supported the late President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines during the 1970's and 1980's. When Marcos fell in the April 1986 "People Power" revolt, Edwardo fled Manila and spent1986-98 in exile in the United States. But Cojuangco, who is godfather to Marcos's son Bong Bong, returned in 1989, regained three seats on the board of the United Coconut Planters Bank that he cofounded in 1975, and made an unsuccessful run for the vice-presidency in 1992.
Before the downfall of Marcos, Cojuangco had monopoly control of the Philippines' coconut industry. In addition to SMC and the United Coconut Planters Bank, his business interests today include agribusiness, mining, shipping, plantations, beverage distribution and a stake in the Mudgee wine-growing district of Australia, where he also runs a horse stud.
Andres Soriano III San Miguel Corporation (US$1.0 billion) Born Manila. Educated at the Wharton School, USA. Andres is Chairman and Chief executive of the largest non-oil company in the Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, which had 1995 revenue of US$2.6 billion and profits of US$456 million. The Soriano family, who have been major shareholders in SMC for decades, have been long-time business rivals of the Cojuangco clan which rose to prominence in SMC during the Marcos era.
With 33,000 employees, SMC is the Philippines' largest private employer. It had a market capitalization, including A and B shares, of around US$5.7 billion in early 1997. Apart from their stake in SMC, the Sorianos have their own listed business group, A. Soriano Corporation, which acts as an investment and management company. They also have a stake in Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp.


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