Roberto Ongpin

  (Redirected from Roberto V. Ongpin)

Roberto Velayo Ongpin (born January 6, 1937)[3] is a Filipino businessman and Minister of Trade and Industry during the Marcos administration. His younger brother, Jaime Velayo Ongpin, was Minister of Finance of the Philippines under President Cory Aquino.[4]

Roberto Ongpin
Born (1937-01-06) January 6, 1937 (age 84)
EducationAteneo de Manila University
Known forChairman, CEO, and Director of Alphaland Corporation[1]
Net worth$3.26 billion (June 2018) [2]

In the 2018 ranking by Forbes Magazine of the world's richest, Ongpin was named as the Philippines' twelfth wealthiest Filipino (up from sixteenth in 2017[5]), with a net worth US$3.72 billion.[6]

Early life and educationEdit

Roberto Velayo Ongpin was born on January 6, 1937. He is the second of seven children by Luis Roa Ongpin and Lourdes Morales Velayo. He grew up in the neighborhood of Pinaglabanan in San Juan, which was then a suburb of the City of Manila.[7] Roberto Ongpin is the great grandson of Román T. Ongpin, a Filipino-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who aided Filipino revolutionaries against the Spanish and American colonial administration in the Philippine islands. The Ongpins have been named as among the "most influential and enduring families of the Philippines" for their contributions to the nation's growth.[8][9][10][11]

Ongpin was able to attend school through a scholarship. After graduating from Ateneo High School, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (cum laude) from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1957. He became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 1958, after which he briefly joined Procter & Gamble in Manila.[12]

In 1961, Ongpin earned his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.[13] It was during his time in Harvard that he met and married his wife of 55 years, Monica Arellano of Valparaiso, Chile. They have three children together, Stephen Arellano Ongpin, Dahlea Arellano Ongpin and Anna Arellano Ongpin. He also has two other children from different mothers, Michelle Schroer Ongpin, and Julian Stone Ongpin. He has four grandchildren, Adlyna, Adeeb, Isaac, and Amyla.[14][15]

1986 People Power RevolutionEdit

In the early hours of February 22, 1986, as Roberto V. Ongpin was preparing to go to Malacañan Palace for a meeting with President Marcos, US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, and Special Envoy Philip Habib, he noticed that his military escorts had been pulled out. Ongpin's subsequent calls to then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile inquiring about the whereabouts of his security detail inadvertently alerted Enrile that Marcos may have already been aware of his plans to stage a coup de'tat. This triggered Enrile's hasty break from the government, eventually leading to the People Power Revolution that installed Corazon C. Aquino as the new Philippine President.[16][17]

Business careerEdit

Sycip Gorres VelayoEdit

After moving back to the Philippines in 1963, Roberto V. Ongpin was recruited by his maternal uncle, Fred Velayo to work for "the Philippines' largest multidisciplinary professional services firm," Sycip Gorres Velayo & Company (SGV). According to SGV Chairman Emeritus Washington Sycip, Ongpin is "one of the most aggressive and effective managers" he has ever known. In 1966, two years after joining the firm, Ongpin - who was barely 30 years old at that time - was named a managing partner of SGV. He served the company from 1964 to 1979.[18][19]

Minister of Trade and IndustryEdit

In 1979, Roberto V. Ongpin became the Philippines' youngest Trade and Industry Minister at age 42 when he accepted the invitation of former Philippine President, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr., to join his cabinet.[20]

During his seven-years as Minister, Ongpin grappled with the deteriorating economy as political instability made funding from international agencies and banks difficult for the government. On occasion, he personally had to negotiate financing for the Philippines with other world leaders, including Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and Iraq's President Saddam Hussein.[21][22][23]

In 1984, with "the Philippines facing a debt and foreign exchange crisis, the black market exchange rate soared to Php 30 per Dollar (versus the official rate of Php 14 per Dollar)." Ongpin is credited with stabilizing the Philippine Peso by establishing the "Binondo Central Bank," a dual exchange rate system that allowed the government to narrow the rate gap by directly intervening in black market currency prices.[24][25]

Belle Corp/Tagaytay HighlandsEdit

After the fall of Marcos, Roberto V. Ongpin concentrated on growing his businesses. Among his first ventures Belle Corp. with former fellow Binondo Central Bank veteran, Benito Tan Guat. As chief executive officer, Ongpin was "undoubtedly recognized as the creator" of the Belle's flagship development, Tagaytay Highlands. He was also "instrumental in transforming the property into what it is today, one of the premier developments outside Metro Manila," and "the single largest - and most successful - upscale resort community in the Philippines to date."[26][27]

Atok-Big Wedge, Inc.Edit

Roberto V. Ongpin is the chairman of investment holding company Atok-Big Wedge, Inc. The company's primary purpose is general investment. The company's second purposes include mining, real estate, manufacturing, processing, lending and borrowing money.[28]


Ongpin owns 94% of the shares of Alphaland,[29] and is chairman of Alphaland Balesin Island Club, Inc., and the City Club at Alphaland Makati Place, Inc.; the developers of the Balesin Island Club, a "world-class, members-only resort that has been described as a 500-hectare paradise with 7.3 kilometers of pristine white sand beaches, located 21 kilometers southwest of Polillo, Quezon Province," and the City Club, an Php 8 billion multi-use commercial residential complex that has three high-rise buildings, a shopping mall, and a "3-hectare leisure, entertainment and business club."[30][31][32] In 2015, Alphaland’s comprehensive net income rose 31% to P7.2 billion, from P5.5 billion in the previous year.[33] In 2016 company profits rose 7.5% to Php 7.7 billion (from Php 7.2B in 2015).[34]

The company also owns and operates Alphaland Aviation, Inc.. It has a pending petition before the Philippines Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to be allowed "to be granted the authority to operate domestic air transportation services." Alphaland Aviation currently provides exclusive charter services to Balesin Island Club located in Lamon Bay, Quezon province.[35][36]

In September 2017 Ongpin launched Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges, " a 78-hectare master-planned development of 300 lodge-style log homes" in Baguio City, Philippines.The project is being developed at a cost of P5 billion.[37][38]

PhilWeb Corporation (South Seas Oil and Mineral Exploration Co. Inc.)Edit

In 1979, Ongpin acquired control of South Seas Oil and Mineral Exploration Co. Inc. a mining and exploration company incorporated on August 20, 1969.[39]

On January 18, 2000, South Seas Natural Resources, Inc. became PhilWeb.Com, Inc., an internet company, upon the stockholders’ approval of a restructuring plan which involved changes in the Company’s name, and primary purpose, among others.

At the annual stockholders’ meeting on May 31, 2002, the stockholders approved the change in corporate name from, Inc. to PhilWeb Corporation. The stockholders also approved the inclusion of the gaming business as an additional secondary purpose of the Company. The SEC approved these changes on November 5, 2002.

In August 2016, Ongpin resigned his post as chairman of PhilWeb Corporation, after being tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as being part of the oligarchy, which was followed by a subsequent order to halt the online gambling industry, which was the core business of Philweb.[40] Ongpin later clarified that Philweb is "not an online gaming company," but is merely the "software providers of e-Games, which is actually owned by (the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation)."[41]

The unexpected singling out of Ongpin by the President has puzzled many observers, with some speculating that he may have just been a victim of the Philippines' "murky" politics.[42] Ongpin however stresses that he 'bears no rancor' towards Duterte. "He is my President, and I will do all I can to support him and his policies."[43] Ongpin's decision to sell his shares in PhilWeb to former president Marcos' son-in-law, Gregorio Araneta III, has led to a lessening of the political pressure on himself and the company, allowing him to focus on his other business interests.[44][45][46]

Local and International Business AffiliationsEdit

Mr. Roberto V. Ongpin was also previously the Chairman by Philippine Bank of Communications, Inc., Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc., (2006-2011), Belle Corporation, La Flor dela Isabela (1996), Sinophil Corporation, RVO Capital Ventures Corporation, Tabacalera Incorporada, Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise, Inc. (2006), and Philippine Global Communications, Inc. (PHILCOM). He was vice chairman of Philex Mining Corporation (2007-2009).

He was Director for the following corporations Araneta Properties, Inc., (until 2009), Ginebra San Miguel Corporation (2010-2013), Petron Corporation (2008-2014), San Miguel Corporation (2009-2014), PAL Holdings, Inc. and Philippine Airlines, Inc. (2012-2014), and Makati Shangri-La Hotel & Resort, Inc. (2003-2014).

Ongpin was also affiliated with various foreign companies, including as Chairman of the Acentic GmbH (2010-2013), Developing Countries Investment Corp. (Until 2011), and Dragon Oil London, Plc. He was also Deputy Chairman of the South China Morning Post (1993-2014), Vice Chairman of AIA Capital Corporation (Hong Kong), Director E2-Capital (Holdings) Ltd (presently CIAM Group Ltd) (until 2008), and Non-Executive Director at Forum Energy Plc UK (2009-2015), and Shangri-la Asia Hong Kong, (2003-2014).[47][48][49]


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  31. ^ "Alphaland City Club opens in Makati". Retrieved October 25, 2016.
  32. ^ "Balesin Club profile". Retrieved October 25, 2016.
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  37. ^ "Ongpin unveils luxury Benguet real estate development". Retrieved Nov 28, 2017.
  38. ^ "Alphaland on a roll". BizNews Asia. July 14, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  39. ^ "Philweb Corporate History". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016.
  40. ^ Dela Paz, Charisse (August 7, 2016). "PhilWeb reveals 'main reason' behind Ongpin resignation". Rappler. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  41. ^ "Alphaland on a roll". BizNews Asia. July 14, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  42. ^ "New York Times - Push to Give Marcos a Philippine Hero's Burial Finds an Ally in Duterte". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016.
  43. ^ "Life in the fast lane". Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  44. ^ "Manila Bulletin - Which way Mr. President?". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016.
  45. ^ "Ongpin airline flies, luxury yacht sails past thunderstorm Digong". Retrieved Nov 12, 2016.
  46. ^ "Araneta Group acquires Ongpin shares in PhilWeb". Retrieved Nov 12, 2016.
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  49. ^ "Philippines richest list". Retrieved October 25, 2016.