Henry Sy

Topics: SM Prime Holdings, Shopping malls in the Philippines, SM Mall of Asia Pages: 22 (8427 words) Published: January 31, 2009
Henry Sy: Life, Works & Achievements

Pietros Val Patricio

Industrialist: Henry Sy

Ethnicity: Chinese

Country: Philippines

Age: 82

Business: Retailing

Fortune: $2.1 Billion

Conglomerate: The SM Group of Companies

SM Prime Holdings

SM Investments Corp.

SM Developments Corp.

SM Shoemart, Inc.

Highlands Prime, Inc.

Charity: SM Foundation, Inc.


One night at the North Forbes Park district of Makati, there was an old man who happened to lie down on his couch alone in his living room. He was thinking about his humble past, his soaring achievements in the course of his long life as a simple individual. And he knew very well that in reality, life has never been easy for him. He knew that he wasn’t born to be the man who he is right now. Most likely, fate must have been cruel on him as a child. All he knew was that he was once just a dreamer, probably a wide dreamer in a sense of view meaning that early had he learned by heart that is not bad to dream after all. Like a rags-to-riches fairytale claiming that “a dream is a whish your heart makes”, never had he imagined to reach the very peak where he is today, the extraordinary Cinderella man who people look up to right now. As a towering magnate in society who has become an inspiration to many, he never expected his impact in a society’s economy would be so towering, a legacy that has sprouted from the pure hard work of a third world individual. He was that impoverished little boy from long ago who came from a far away land to set up his seeds of ambition and industriousness in this foreign land that has opened a lot of doors to him. Had he not done so, he wouldn’t be sitting in his comfortable wooden bungalow mansion right now. This luxury log cabin alone is worth $2 Million with its wooden materials exclusively brought over from North America. He once spent many years of his life living in a small condo unit. He knows all the hardships of life better than any thinkable merchant in the Philippines. After all, he is the world’s 355th richest man according to the 2005 census of the Forbes Magazine. At the peak of his career, there are certain things in life that have finally become clear to him. It was about time to make way for a lasting legacy, a mark that he will be leaving behind before he passes away. It was only a little more than a decade ago when he launched the opening of Asia’s longest building, his very own Megamall. Every now and then he sits at his warehouse-style office headquarters in Manila bay and glances at the old bass cash register he once used as a child, which lies in a respective corner of his office, to remind him of his earlier struggles and beginnings before he emerged to become the wealthiest entrepreneur in the Philippines.


He was born in a remote village in southern China on December 25, 1923 to an impoverished family. His original birth name Sy Chi Sieng literally meant “to attain ultimate success.” As a child, the young Sy a courageous boy who always aimed to succeed in anything he did. His father left the family, when he was still a toddler, for a country that was then a US territorial protectorate. His father was a trader seeking for good opportunities in a place where economic progress was bright and promising. Back then, the Philippines was the country that had this special distinction. Inspired by his father, he also wanted to become a businessman. He had nothing else in mind but to do business as a child. Hence, he later followed his dad and migrated to the Philippines at the tender age of twelve. It was in the year 1936 when he left his home village Ang-khue of the Dieng-oh municipality in the county of Jinjiang, now a city, which lies near Xiamen in Fujian province. When he arrived in Manila to join his father, he did not expect what he encountered back then. “I cried when I first saw him.” he recalls. “Dad was dirt-poor.” The two were reunited in a cramped space of only...
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