By ARGYLL B. GEDUCOS
President Duterte paid his last respects to Chinese-Filipino businessman Henry Sy Sr. during his visit to the latter’s wake late Sunday evening.
In a statement, Malacañang said Duterte arrived at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City around 10:50 p.m. Sunday to condole with the family of the SM Group founder.
“The President then expressed his sincerest condolences to Sy’s family. Duterte stayed for more than an hour before leaving the vicinity,” the Palace said.
In photos sent by Malacañang, Duterte was seen shaking the hands of Teresita Sy-Coson, daughter of the late tycoon, before approaching Sy’s coffin and paid a moment of silence.
Sy, a Chinese immigrant, died in his sleep on Saturday morning. He was 94.
He was hailed as the Philippines’ richest person from 2005 to 2018 and 52nd richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
Sy started his business empire from a small shoe business in 1958 in downtown Manila known as Shoe Mart, which the SM chain of malls was named after. In 2018, SM Investments said it had 70 malls in the Philippines and seven in China.
The businesses owned by Henry Sy and the SM Group now are retail, banking, property, mining, and gaming.
On Saturday, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo remembered Sy by saying the late philanthropist changed the landscape of malling in the Philippines.
“The landscapes of major cities in the Philippines seem unadorned and incomplete minus the imposing architectural delight. He made “malling” a delightful experience as part of the urban living in the Philippines where Filipino families and the ordinary folks bond, promenade, and create wondrous and memorable moments,” he said.
Panelo then described the Father of Modern Philippine Retail as someone who is greatly respected and admired for his lasting legacy, which Sy attributed to hard work.
The Palace official also described Sy as a visionary and a pillar of the Philippine economy who believed in the potentials and opportunities of the country, and pursued them with dedication, passion, and hard work till their fruition.
Panelo also said Sy is also an example of a hardworking Filipino.
“As a family man, he had molded his children into his own image: Humble, hardworking, and a man of prophetic vision. We pray for the eternal rest of his soul, and may perpetual light shine upon him as his spirit traverses the path to everlasting life,” he said.