Business Philosophies of the top 5 most Successful Businessmen in the Philippines


Every businessman has gone through hardships before they achieve success. They believe in their own philosophies in life. But what really is philosophy? By definition, philosophy is the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch or experience. Or in layman’s terms, it’s your beliefs or the way you view things. We need to understand philosophy because it teaches us life skills. Not just head knowledge but how can we apply it to boost our emotional intelligence.

If you have the right philosophy, it helps you to think outside the box, it clarifies or widens our thinking, and at the same it also helps us to self-reflect between what’s right or wrong. Philosophy will dictate your way of thinking or in other words, wrong philosophy-wrong way of living, right philosophy-right way of living. In this article, we will share with you the 5 most prosperous business people in the Philippines, their brief origin stories, and how you might develop the abilities required to achieve success in a similar manner through their philosophies.

Read: 6 Ways to Achieve Inclusive Growth in the Philippines

1. Henry Sy-Shoe Mart (SM)

“There is no such thing as overnight success or easy money. If you fail, do not be discouraged; try again. When you do well, do not change your ways.”


Henry Sy was raised in a low-income family in Jinjang, Xiamen, China. They emigrated to the Philippines in 1936 and established a small convenience store in Manila as a result of difficulties in their native country.

A short while afterwards, World War II started, which destroyed the family enterprise. Contrarily, Sy persisted in pursuing his economic ambitions by offering used combat boots and other products to American soldiers. It was the first shoe store in Manila at the time, which is where the term “Shoe Mart” came from. Sy searched for suppliers who could create the shoes he wanted but was unsuccessful.

Sy was survived by his family until he passed away in 2019 at the age of 94. Sy’s numerous SM malls and other acquired enterprises serve as a living tribute to him today. He became one of the richest man in the world as a result.

2. Tony Tan Caktiong-Jollibee

“If you dream big and put your dreams into action, you will definitely make mistakes. But don’t be scared to make mistakes. Just be quick to recognize them and learn from them as fast as you can.”


Caktiong purchased an ice cream store wayback 1975, but due to poor sales, he decided to add other foods including fried chicken, fries, and hamburgers. Customers came at his business to purchase his goods once knowledge of his location spread.

After adopting the fast-food business model, Caktiong was able to develop across the country, turning his small restaurant into one of the most prosperous business in the Philippines.

3. Socorro C. Ramos-National Bookstore

“Whenever I want something, I really work hard to get it. There is no such thing as suwerte.”

Socorro Ramos started her career in publishing and retail as a salesgirl in a bookstore. At the age of 19, she and her husband opened National Book Store in Escolta, selling children’s books and school supplies with a capital of PHP200. At the time, the Japanese imposed restriction on books and periodicals, which applied to her expanding company as well. She and her husband supplemented their income by selling more goods like soaps and candles.

4. John Gokongwei Jr. (J.G. Holdings)

“Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s the small successes achieved day by day that build a company. So, don’t be impatient or focused on immediate financial rewards.”


John Gokongwei Jr., is a Chinese-born member of one of Cebu’s wealthiest families.

But after his father passed away, the family riches vanished, and he was left to support his family by selling products on the streets of Cebu while riding his bicycle. After that, he started trading by truck and boat before starting to import from the United States.

Realizing that his revenue would always be constrained by poor trading margins, he shifted his attention to manufacturing. In order to start a maize milling business that is now known as Universal Corn Products, he borrowed PHP 500,000 from Chinabank.

Despite the fact that this commercial endeavor was successful, he aspires to continue. The name of his business was soon changed to Universal Robina Corporation as he started to add other products, like Blend 45.

5. Edgar Sia (Mang Inasal)

“It’s alright to keep an open mind-but at a certain point, once you have thoroughly completed your homework-you have to learn how to stop and focus on intensely and passionately executing these goals step by step. You have to repel the distractions.”


Sia is an Iloilo City native who had dropped out of college at age 19 to start his own laundry and photo-developing business. At the age of 26, Sia decided to open the fast-food restaurant called Mang Inasal, which means “Mr. Barbecue” in his native Hiligaynon wayback 2003. The first branch was built in a shopping center parking lot in his hometown.

The eatery enjoyed great success. Tony Caktiong of Jollibee purchased Mang Inasal for PHP5 billion after learning of Sia’s expanding business. Sia put the money he received from the sale of Mang Inasal toward banking and healthcare. At age 42, he is considered as the youngest billionaire in the country.

Read: How to Franchise Mang Inasal – Requirements and Cost

The business heroes of the Philippines worked hard and evolved as necessary to achieve their objectives. So, what do you think of their stories? Do you somehow feel motivated to achieve whatever goal you have?

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