By Tony Lopez
A tribute to Tatang|
TATANG Henry Sy Sr. was honored by his family, friends and business associates at a glittering song, dance, musical and dinner party (catering by Mandarin, drinks by Coke) last Saturday, at his cavernous SMX Convention Center just next door to SM Mall of Asia. More than 1,500 guests showed up for the evening of music and memories, dances and dreams, tribute and thanksgiving entitled, “I Dream.” It lasted from 6 p.m. to past 11 p.m.There were no public officials around, except perhaps for Congressman Cynthia Villar who joined the presidential table, and Makati Mayor Jojo Binay who joined Tessie Sy’s table. Henry and his wife Felicidad shared their table with SGV Founder Washington SyCip, JG Summit CEO James Go, PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, stern-looking Senen Mendiola, and Eduardo Yu. Other notable tycoons I saw were Lucio Tan, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (who left after the cocktails), and Oscar Lopez and Ramon del Rosario Sr. with whom I had shared a table.At a little past 7 p.m., Tatang was wheeled into the hall by his children, led by Tessie, the eldest, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert and Harley. He looked dapper in a black off-the-shelf suit and striped black tie. He spoke little during the night.The night was about the Henry Sy Lega-Sy, from the time when he was a boy of 12 in Jinjiang, China in 1936 and taking the hazardous boat ride to Manila to join his father in the Philippine capital. Seeing his father’s operation, he cried, “this is not the way to make a living.”And so Henry went solo, without much schooling, without much capital, but with plenty of guts and bravado. Initially, he set up a buy and sell business to create the capital he needed to fulfill his dream. He lived simply and frugally. He hated borrowing money and thus saved hard to raise enough capital.Henry began his shoe retailing business in earnest in 1958 when he opened a shoe store with a fitting name, Shoemart, on...