Henry Sy was born to a poor family in Xiamen, China on December 25,1924. He is the son of Henry H. Sy. He immigrated to the Philippines and got his start by selling rejected and overrun shoes from Tondo.
He completed his secondary education in a school now known as Chiang Kai Shek College  and earned his Associate of Arts degree in Commercial Studies at Far Eastern University in 1950.
Foray into business
In 1958, Sy established a small shoe store in Quiapo, Manila that marked the establishment of SM Prime Holdings. In November 1972, the small shoe store became SM Quiapo, SM's first standalone department store.
On December 25, 1985, he established his first SM Supermall, SM City North EDSA.
He is the Philippines' richest man, gaining $5 billion in 2010, amid the global financial crisis. The huge gain was due to his holding company, SM Investments Corporation, which has interests in Banco de Oro, inter alia. Forbes magazine's 2008 list of 40 wealthiest Filipinos, revealed the Sy family's net worth was $6.2 billion. Earlier, he was the second wealthiest individual in the Philippines, next to Bill Gates, and (as of 2010) 201st in the world.
Sy is considered a tai-pan. The Sy group is the operator of Banco de Oro and owner of Chinabank. In 2006, he bought the remaining 66% of Equitable PCI Bank, the Philippines third largest lender, in which he already had a 34% stake, and merged it with Banco de Oro in 2007. The merger created the Philippines' second largest financial institution with resources of close to $17 billion. Rumors say that the Sy family has a personal stake of $4 billion in these three banks, although there is no sufficient evidence to strongly substantiate that.
Sy[when?] sold his 11% stake in San Miguel Corporation, Southeast Asia's largest food and beverage conglomerate for $680 million.
Henry Sy, Sr., was named "Management Man of the Year"[when?] by the Makati Business Club in 1999 and was conferred an