The late Henry Sy is NOT the bad guy in the story of Philippine poverty. FILIPINOS are.

Last we recall, the Philippines is propped up by overseas foreign workers (OFWs) to the tune of 10% of its economy and Filipino households down to the lower middle classes (a household demographic range where many commie “activists” were raised) are sustained by armies of servants paid slave wages. So when we see chi-chi “activists” issue assertions such as this one by a certain “feminist” activist…

If your idea of “hard work” is hinged on another’s suffering, you need to recalibrate your moral compass. A tycoon who built his empire on the back of workers whom he enslaved and whose rights he never recognized is not worthy of respect or honor, especially not from journalists.

Obviously referring to SM Group founder and patriarch Henry Sy who passed away yesterday…

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So disappointing to see news articles singing praises for a man whose “hard work” has institutionalized unjust labor conditions, among other human rights violations. Journalism is hinged on truth-telling, and if his “philanthropy” is your truth then you need serious factchecking.

…one can tell that sloppy thinking underlies much of the “activist” rhetoric that infests the Philippines’ online “discourse” even at a time when one should at least take a breather to pause and reflect on the life of a man who was, himself, once a member of an underclass of immigrants who were once the butt of jokes of native Filipinos.

The trouble with Filipinos and their “activists” and “thought leaders” is that their brains are addled by the flawed notion that “Rich people became rich because of greed.” As such, Filipinos comfort themselves with the laughable idea that the “poor” are the good blessed guys in the peachy narrative they continue to embrace and that the rich are the “evil” ones. The truth, however, is not as convenient to Filipinos as the belief system they prefer to live by. A more intelligent working definition of the concept of “poverty” is one I proposed a long time ago and it is one that provides a vastly superior context to the poverty “debate”, and it goes like this:

Poverty is a habitual entering into commitments one is inherently unable to honour.

Under this light, it is easy to see that Philippine-style poverty is rooted in an ill-conceived commitment to the production of an enormous population that is not matched by any semblance of a collective talent for creating and sustaining enough economic activity to employ this wretched lot. More importantly, Filipinos should then use this bit of insight and direct their attention to the Roman Catholic Church which, for centuries, directed its flock to wantonly multiply like cockroaches — an initiative that created the enormous supply-to-demand imbalance that, today, continuously crushes wages beyond all form of redemption.

Henry Sy and the community of industrialists who, today, account for much of the little economic activity that employs Filipinos represent the exceptional few who stepped up to the challenge of producing employment-generating businesses. It is nothing short of a monumental tragedy that the foremost “activists” of Philippine society today demonise people like Henry Sy — even on the very day of his death.

The late Henry Sy is not the bad guy in the tale of woe that is the Philippines’ “workers’ struggle”. The bad guys are Filipinos themselves. Despite the Philippines being host to abundant natural resources, and now, an enormous supply of people, the society as a whole lacks a collective ability to apply this enormous number of people to the task of turning these resources into any sort of valuable economic output of consequence. Instead, natural resources are harvested raw and sold raw — mineral ore, logs, overseas foreign workers. Overseas, these then get turned into iPhones, karaoke machines, those shirts with the Philippine islands embroidered onto their left breasts, Honda Civics, Havaianas, and Starbucks tumblers after which they are shipped back to the Philippines to be purchased using OFW cash.

The Philippines, in short, is a perfect self-perpetuating poverty equation. People like Henry Sy worked within that equation not because they were “evil” but because, quite simply, that equation is what it is. There is no “evil” at work here — only a people who committed to a large number of people and utterly failed to produce the means to employ themselves productively.

26 Replies to “The late Henry Sy is NOT the bad guy in the story of Philippine poverty. FILIPINOS are.”

  1. >> People like Henry Sy worked within that equation not because they were “evil” but because, quite simply, that equation is what it is.

    Absolutely spot-on. Filipinos have created a society that epitomizes failure and dysfunction, and then mock people who somehow manage – against all the odds – to turn that into something halfway useful.

    SM as an organisation IS very predatory in its practices: however, I fully understand WHY they have adopted those practices. More enlightened ideas (such as seeking a win-win scenario with lessees rather than milking every last cent) would not work in the Philippines. Nobody understands that concept. They are completely at home with being exploited. Besides, there are taxes to pay, and tax policy is designed to extract the maximum possible amount, ignoring business-sustainability issues.

    The “armies of servants” phenomenon is actually an example of the same. Thanks to the CCP, the country is “blessed” with a large number of people with lukewarm IQs and not much in the way of life skills. What are you going to do with them? They’re fundamentally incapable of doing much with their lives except dusting somebody else’s bookshelves. So isn’t it better that there are lots of lazy middle-class people who are prepared to employ them doing exactly that? Same with all the other stupid jobs (eg., “security guard”) which mostly involve standing around looking vacant. The alternative is a nation where the women become prostitutes and the men become criminals and layabouts.

  2. Historically, the few worker’s rights we enjoy now were not handed to us on a silver platter. People had to fight for them. Be grateful that there are activists out there who do the heavy lifting for you.

    Labor laws protect people from the excesses of capitalism, and Henry Sy’s company has been lobbying successfully against them.

    Think about a pizza pie with eight slices meant to be shared by eight people. One person owns 7 slices, while the other 7 people share one slice. Do you really have the gall to say that one person deserves the 7 slices because of his hard work and abilities and the rest of the people are just dumb and lazy and there are just too many of them for that remaining slice of pizza? It’s a structural problem and misguided commentary like this is not helpful in solving it.

      1. OH BULLSHIT, The Philippines is a KLEPTOCRCY…everything is warped, rigged, stolen and then TAXED.
        Henry Sy and the scumbag that owns PAL are the lowest of the low, deserving of the NOOSE !

        1. MR. SY OWNS THE PHILIPPINES WITHOUT MR. SY FILIPINOS WOULD STILL BE FARMING. The owner of the Philippines can do whatever he wants. he can rig election, avoid taxes, underpay his subjects. HE OWNS THE PHILIPPINES AND THE FILIPINO PEOPLE. Those in IRS, who are Filipinos, allowed themselves to be paid extra by Mr. Sy.

          Mr. Sy owns the Philippines. Owns IRS. Owns the government. HE CAN DO WHATEVER AND HOWEVER HE WANTS as long as Filipinos PLAY GOVERNMENT and allowed themselves to be played.

    1. If he worked for it, yes, he absolutely deserves 7 slices, you dirty commie. It also doesnt mean that the other 7 people are dumb and lazy, they were simply beaten to the punch by that single guy.
      There is this misunderstanding that hard work alone is needed to achieve success. It is a combination of hard work, perseverance, wisdom and timing, plus some other factors but most of the time those 4 come to mind.

      1. FILIPINOS HAVE CENTURY-OLD SLAVE MENTALITY. If it doesn’t look like a Filipino … does not talk Pilipino … eat with fork-&-knife … dress & hairstyle like Jose Rizal … does not have round eyes … IT MUST BE IMPORTED MISS UNIVERSE … errrr …. stand corrected …. MUST BE A SLAVE MASTER !!!! bow … on your knees hands flat on the ground …. yes, Mr. Slave Master … YOUR WISHES ARE OUR COMMANDS ….

        Can’t blame Mr. Sy. When he speaks …. it is a command. BECAUSE THIS WAS HOW FILIPINOS BEEN TOLD IN SLAVE CAMP !!! And on top of his business acumen MR. SY HAS WILLING SLAVES …. and Filipinos has inculcated masters.

        THINK CATRIONA GRAY why she was picked to wave the Philippine flag. Think Megan Young. Think Wurtzbach and the rest of non-Filipino looking imported beauties.

        IF IT IS A FILIPINO IT MUST BE UGLY AND DUMB. If it doesn’t look like a Filipino …. BOW BEFORE THEM …. give them the best table away from the bustle of the kitchen and stinky toilet.

        I KNOW THIS. Because I always get the best table and the courteous-ists of lady-&-men in waiting to ask what I wanted before the menu arrives.

  3. I think many in big business as was embodied by the late Mr. Sy got their success through hard work, talent, AND exploitation or greed. And that Filipinos in some way facilitated that exploitation.

    1. FILIPINOS HAVE CENTURY-OLD SLAVE-MENTALITY. Can’t blame Mr. Sy. Mr. Sy just exploited the Filipino century-old slave-mentality. Filipinos believe they are slaves and should not question or ask for more.

  4. The Philippines is the 2nd most corrupt country in the world. It is the most obviously corrupt country on Earth, the people that run it are thieves, the people that back the thieves are elected by a population that is the dumbest on the planet because they do not even realize how they are being fucked around and , more imporatntly, who is behind it all. It is NIT the corrupt politicians, it ist the Oligarchs that have PAID the politicians to screw their own citizens, their own families……


  5. From an objective point, owning capital makes it easy to get around any “legitimate” power structure. And we wonder why public servants would rather serve private interests.
    Being born rich is just as arbitrary as being born poor. Those who see no problem in that submit their fate to chance. There can be no gambling in a society that intends to be truly free.

  6. Henry Sy’s company, the ShoeMart represents unrestricted capitalism. Unrestricted capitalism leads to labor exploitation. Workers are not protected for , profit for the company. It is human slavery in another form. Henry Sy was the slave owner; the Filipino workers at his ShoeMart were the slaves, making him enormously rich and wealthy.

    Not all rich and wealthy people , gained their wealth by hard work and diligence.

    As an example, let us take the Cojuangco family. Ysidra Cojuangco was the mistress of the late Gen. Antonio Luna, who entrusted to her the Katipunan National Treasury. Then, Gen. Luna was murdered,
    And the Gold coins National Treasury, disappeared. It reappeared as the Hacienda Luisita, comprising 70% of the land area of Tarlac. The Cojuangcos went into politics; they become expert plunderers , in company with the Aquinos, that resulted to the DAP, PDAF, Typhoon Yolanda Fund fraud, etc..

    Most of our politicians did not become wealthy by hard work. They did it by stealing from our taxpayers’ money.

    Henry Sy’s legacy is exploitation and crass capitalism of the Filipino Chinese Oligarchs !

    1. YOU DO NOT RESTRICT CAPITALISM. IF YOU DO IT IS COMMUNISM. Capitalism is born out of greed. Greed results in capitalism. GREED IS GOOD.

      Filipinos are religious people. Filipinos believe in sharing. Filipino share their wealth. Once the wealth is shared. It is all gone. That is the reason Filipinos can never pass-on their wealth to second generation. BECAUSE THEY SHARE.

      FILIPINOS DO NOT BELIEVE IN MR. SY’s CHINESE PROVERB: ““You give a poor Filipino a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach Filipino to fish and you give Filipino an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime. But Filipino cannot learn so THEY BLOG ABOUT POLITICS because this is the only FISHING EXPEDITION THEY KNOW”

      1. i’d like to add my $0.02 to your bit that GREED is GOOD.
        Greed drives humans to better themselves. Be it the good or bad way, because of greed, humanity is pushed forward. Not just on material goods, but the want for a better way of living, or an extended life.
        Greed’s bad rep is probably stemmed from the fact that it is part of the 7 deadly sins… oh and to god-fearing filipinos definitely a no-no!
        Middle (and lower)-class filipinos associate greed with material things because they do not know how the rich live. even if they make hit a jackpot, they usually squander wealth on unnecessary wants just to feed their egos with instant gratification by trying to appear rich themselves. The media also portrays the rich as evil while the church promotes “blessed are the poor”. A perfect environment for capitalists to build (or prey, if you prefer that term) on.

  7. I wonder if some bashers of Henry Sy and SM or other successful Philippine businesses by calling them “slave-drivers” because of contractualization are also defending “My Family’s Slave,” meaning they claim that there was nothing wrong with a Filipino family having a slave. That would be the height of hypocrisy.

    1. BROWN FILIPINOS HAVE SLAVES and they call them “maids”. Slaves beget slaves. Having maids, several of them, is a trademark of success. These maids are not entitled to:
      1. sick time
      2. vacation time
      3. lunch break
      4. breaks
      5. no TVs
      6. no radios
      7. no texting
      8. no internet


      They are thrown in a room along with dirty laundries and soiled underwears ….. THEY ARE WHIPPED, SCREAMED AT, FED DOG FOOD, …….

      And the masters? On Sundays? They go to church …… and thank god for the blessing God has bestowed to them … when they get home … they flog their housemaids …..




  8. Slavery in the form of “alipin” has been an ancient Filipino tradition. Family live -in slave/servants became more of a tradition during the Spanish colonization era. It continued up to this days…

    Today, Filipino slave/servants are exporting this ‘tradition” to rich foreign countries, like in the : Middle East countries, China, Singapore, Japan, Australia, etc…

    These Filipino live- in servants/ slaves are paid low wages; works more than eight (8) hours a day; seven (7) days a week. They are subjected to all kinds of abuses by their slave/servant masters.

    The Philippine government looks the other way , because of the remittances and taxes of these low waged Filipino servant/slaves , Float the Philippine economy . They also help crass capitalists, Filipino /Filipino Chinese business owners become extremely wealthy !

    1. HOWARD TAFT BROUGHT FILIPINO SLAVES. THEY ARE FAVORITES IN THE WHITE HOUSE. The Filipino servants in the White House look down on Filipinos because they work in the White House as slaves. For them they do not look at themselves as slaves. IT IS AN HONOR TO WORK IN THE WHITE HOUSE SERVING THE PRESIDENTS wearing ties.

      The White House prefers Filipino servants/slaves because they DO NOT TALK BACK. THEY ARE DOCILE.

      AFTER WORK, they go to the mall (park) and look at Filipino tourists and laugh at them.

  9. So tell me how many Filipinos like Henry Sy & Manny Villar who are very hardworking, never makes complains & criticism & knows how to bring our country into a First World just like in Singapore?


    (I hear a cricket chirping.)

  10. Why am I not surprised that the retweets that villainize Henry Sy are mostly LP supporters? The same ones that villainize everyone who they deem greedy and corrupt because they cannot comprehend how an individual can progress in life beyond the norm.

    For those people, when a person earns a lot of money while they themselves can not even fully pay their car loan and cannot come up with how those rich people could have made their wealth, then the person who has a lot of money must be corrupt, greedy and have piggybacked off poor people.

    I hate how Filipino activists love to romanticize poverty, it has made those living in poverty sort of ‘contented’ with their situation, and in turn unconsciously gave up any hope of improving their lives because the media, filipino movies and, tv shows have indoctrinated people that being poor is having untethered happiness and freedom while rich people are unhappy and disgruntled, then these shows usually show rich people always having shady business, illegal activities and corruption.

    I can only think that these activists are actively making poor people stay poor because they’re easier to control.

  11. The success story of Mr. Henry Sy is inspirational but his rags-to-riches narrative, based on press releases without any open supporting evidences, is extremely doubtful.

    Henry Sy who was born in 1924 comes from a poor family.

    In 1936, twelve-year-old Sy only had 10 centavos when he traveled from China to Manila. Henry’s father Sy Siu Tek means of livelihood was running two sari-sari stores then.

    In 1943, during World War II, Sy was 19 years old when their shop was destroyed and the father returned to China.

    In 1958, at 34 years old, he established a small shoe store in Quiapo, Manila named “Shoe Mart”.

    By the 1960s, he decided to open Shoe Mart or “SM” – the first air-conditioned shoe store that merchandized shoes in an elegant way.

    (From two sari-sari stores, even destroyed during the war, to a super mall in premium Makati in that time frame is too good to be true as something achievable for someone that can be considered truly poor!)

    If anyone will try to replicate or even surpass his dedication and hard work, factors being mentioned that contributed to his success and, scientifically apply them in the same pursuits, you’ll soon realize that dedication and hard work alone would not suffice to make someone the next possible richest man of this country.

    Our rich and powerful politicians also have this pretentious habit of romanticizing their supposedly humble beginnings, even if they’re obviously really not convincing, as being poor.

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