By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House of Representatives has adopted a resolution hailing the “valuable contributions” of empire builder Henry Sy, Sr. to business and nation-building.
House Resolution 177, principally authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, hurdled the Lower Chamber on February 6, two days before Congress adjourned sessions to pave the way for the election campaign.
“For putting the Philippines at par with the world’s retail giant, for valuable contributions to business and nation-building, countless philantrophic pursuits in education, and for his wisdom and generosity, Mr. Sy will be remembered by his beloved countrymen,” House Resolution 177 said.
The resolution described Sy, fondly called “Tatang” as the “empire builder”, the “Father of Philippine retail” and one of the country’s most generous philantrophists.
Sy died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 94 on January 19, 2019.
“Almost penniless at the age of 12, he left the impoverished village of Huang Xi in Jinjiang, a country of Quanzhou City in China’s Fujian province to seek greener pasture in the Philippines,” the resolution said.
It noted that in 1946, Sy opened a small shoe store in the rubbles of Manila which would later become the seed of a multi-billion dollar enterprise.
“Starting with his flagship Shoemart Store, Mr. Sy founded the SM group of companies through sheer hard work and perseverance which evolved into a conglomerate consisting of shopping malls, banks, hotels, and real property developments, including large shopping centers in China, making him the richest Filipino and the 53rd wealthiest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $19 billion,” it said.
“Amidst his vast wealth, Mr. Henry Sy was a generous donor to charitable causes, allotting millions of pesos each year to finance the college scholarship of thousands of underprivileged Filipino youth, donating school buildings, books and equipment, housing to the poor and through SM Foundation, also donating huge amounts to health care, disasters and response and farmer’s training,” it added.
Sy is survived by his wife, Felicidad Tan-Sy, a pious Catholic and supporter of the Church, and his six children who all work for the family business empire: Teresita Sy-Coson, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert, and Harley.