Sibling Rivalries: Cracks in a Philippine Empire


First of all, a disclaimer: This is just a story. I feel it is a fascinating one, but still just a story like the many others I come across and hardly ever tell. If it does resemble people in real life, I feel it may be coincidental and I doubt anyone will come forward to claim that they are the one’s being referred to. As far as I am concerned, this story is very much fiction because there is no way to confirm anything written here and neither do I want to make it my business to do so. Some stories, like parables, are best enjoyed was a way of passing time and if does contain some truths, it would be best for people to discern for themselves the prudent actions they should take.

A crack in a Philippine empire?

What could be happening to the business empire patiently built by a migrant from Fujian, China who made the Philippines his home at the young age of 12 until his passing more than eight decades later?

This Chinese migrant who later embraced the citizenship of his adoptive country had endeared himself to his employees upon whom he bestowed genuine concern and to whom he attributed his success even until he rose to the top as consistently the richest Filipino. Only his passing dislodged him from that lofty and distinct position of wealth among tycoons in the country because his estate was distributed to his heirs. He started out as retailer of shoes and capped his life as a successful businessman and a philanthropist having founded and led to stellar success the country’s largest investment firm and property leasing company which are among the very few trillionaire firms listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange.


Such success could only have come from the man’s perseverance, humility, genuine concern for the common man, and fair dealings in business. He was neither hounded by wrongdoing in business nor investigated by state regulators. He was all the time compliant with the law. On top of these, he shared his wealth with the needy even as he was acknowledged as a renowned philanthropist.


The old man’s legacy, however, might soon be eclipsed and shattered, according to a source privy to the family, by sibling rivalries that have ripened into enmity and real-life competition for business leadership.


The old man left scions of 2 women and 4 men who are all successful in their own rights.


The eldest daughter shepherds the investment firm and its flagship universal bank while the second daughter takes charge of the vaunted seven-star hotel by the bay and other resorts.


The first son is at the helm of vertical land development, power, and basic construction supplies; while the second son is into banking, property leasing, and commercial space. He chairs the second universal bank of the family’s financial conglomerate. The third son is into food retail chain while the youngest is into investment as with the eldest daughter.


Here is the story from the source who is privy to and has first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of the family.


The source said that the siblings’ unhappiness with each other intensified when the tie that binds them together, the old man, passed on.


The second son and the youngest, while they both sit in the board of the second universal bank in the family conglomerate, do not see eye to eye or talk with each other, the source explained. In board meetings, the youngest would come to the bank a day before and cast his vote on the agenda even as both cannot stand being with each other in the same room even for a minute; the source added.


According to the source, the eldest daughter and the third son likewise neither see eye to eye nor talk to each other. The source said that it is the same thing between the eldest daughter and the second son; they are not on speaking terms just like the third son and the youngest are also at loggerheads. The source further said that the scions are thus divided into two factions; one being the second and the third sons, and the other being the eldest daughter and the youngest son; playing out the familiar cliche “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The saving grace would be the first son who is pretty much solo in his business affairs and the second daughter who always goes with the majority.


This year, however, the three feuding sons will have something in common. They might be all respondents in a criminal lawsuit for illegal banking practices that might reach the Department of Justice and eventually the trial court.


The feuding sons are being complained of committing self-dealing transactions with the second universal bank in the financial conglomerate known in banking parlance as DOSRI by an erstwhile partner in town mall development who felt disadvantaged by its partnership with the conglomerate.


Will they set aside their differences and take a common stand against possible criminal prosecution?


Insiders say that the falling out may worsen because one brother blames the other for the partnership with the complainant that turned awry which led to the DOSRI investigation.


The DOSRI controversy undoubtedly brings to fore the integrity of the universal bank concerned as well as the involved investment firm. How that something in common will play out with the conflicting siblings remains to be seen in the coming days.

8 Replies to “Sibling Rivalries: Cracks in a Philippine Empire”

    1. Oh, and per the wiki, he was born in Fujian so I’m guess the “story” parallels him or his family to some degree. But kwento kwento pa lang. Nothing final/confirmed in the media.

    2. @greengrin Or maybe the Lopez [of ABIAS-CBEnd] or Cojuangco clans? I know they’re the most influenced and the most controversial Tsinoy clans who’d made our country a huge mess for more than a century.

  1. “Money is the root of all evil”, as the Christian Bible stated. The story is a sad story of greed and useless rivalry , to have more money than you can have.

    The old man, who built his business empire, may had been a good man…but he forgot to train and inculcate, good behaviors and fairness to others, to his children. He was too much involved in making money, and forgot to attend to his children and his family.

    We cannot bring our money to our graves…but the good works we do to others, and the good characters, we inculcate on our children, have the lasting effects on future generations !

  2. Wow, even this great empire. And not only Chinabank, on the issue of DOSRI controversies. It also reminds me of Paul’s earlier piece on the Benitezes of PWU and JASMS.
    But it also shows to me the weakness of family-based businesses. Probably they should give it all up to investors.

  3. Amongst the 4 brothers, the youngest is the most decent and ethical. He takes to his father with the same humility and honesty. He is known for apologizing to team members for the shortcomings of his siblings. The Chinese have a mantra that they have to be #1 in wealth. The complainant, Wilbert Lee of Primark is know to be a shrewd businessman from Bicol. But he met his match with the siblings. They are notoriously greedy. Classic example of the 3 generation curse of Chinese family businesses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.