‘We don’t have anything more to prove’
Most of those listed by Forbes as among the country’s 50 richest people have at least two traits in common: generosity and humility.
I know some of them—if not personally, then from what I’ve read and heard about them— and I find that they possess these admirable traits.
Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Enrique Razon Jr., Andrew Tan, George Ty, Lucio Co, Eduardo Cojuangco, Manuel Villar, Ramon Ang, Joey Antonio, Iñigo Zobel, Dean Lao and Manuel Zamora head the list of donors for victims of calamities like Supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas, and the destructive quake in Bohol and Cebu provinces.
Most of them have their own foundations where they pour in vast amounts of money for charity.
They try as much as possible to keep their donations out of the news, but word still gets out because of the huge sums they give away.
(Most wealthy people know that the secret to getting richer is to share their wealth because the Universe returns to them, multiplied several times over, what they give away. But that’s another story).
Their humility is an example for others to emulate, especially among aspiring billionaires or multimillionaires.
Henry Sy, the country’s richest man with a net worth of $12.7 billion, is “tatang” to his more than 200,000 SM malls employees not only because of his age (90) but also because of his fatherly behavior toward them.
When Sy meets ordinary SM employees, he engages them in small talk and imparts to them gems of wisdom.
Lucio Tan, whose net worth of $6.1 billion makes him the second richest man in the country, once flew to Hong Kong in the economy section of a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight.
When Tan’s subordinates who were in business class learned that their boss was on the same flight, they offered to switch seats with him.
Tan, the owner of PAL, asked them: “What time are you arriving in Hong Kong?”
The managers chorused: “9 o’clock, Kapitan.”
Then Tan asked them again: “What time will I reach Hong Kong?”
“Why, of course, also at 9 o’clock, sir!” was the concerted reply.
“Then what’s the difference between your business-class seats and my economy seat since all of us will reach Hong Kong at the same time anyway?” Tan told them.
Ramon Ang, president and chief executive officer of the San Miguel group of companies, addresses strangers as “sir” or “ma’am” even if they’re ordinary people.
Lucio Co, owner of the Puregold supermarket chain, is very courteous to waiters who serve him.
Why are these billionaires so humble when most people who are less wealthy are arrogant?
Joey Antonio, former ambassador to China and owner of The Gramercy Residences building, summed up the answer for his fellow billionaires: “We don’t have anything more to prove.”