Successful Filipino Entrepreneurs

Published on August 25, 2020

Several Filipino entrepreneurs have seen success in their respective fields. Each business brings unique services & products but the ones listed are here for a reason- all tasted fame after promoting the economy substantially. Each individual has their ways of excelling in a line of the field, making them the frontrunners of the competition. The path to success may project motivation or guidance for many future entrepreneurs. Hopefully, their work is appreciated by Filipinos as representation in the industry plus as encouragement for several others. 

1. Sorocco C. Ramos

National Book Store, Inc.

The first entrepreneur talked about belongs to the retail industry: Ms Socorro C. Ramos. She began with getting employed at Goodwill Bookstore, located in Escolta, at the age of eighteen. Her first position was a salesgirl until her diligence promoted her high enough to shift to managing the bookstore. Together with her husband, Jose Ramos, she set up their own bookstore 'National Book Store'. The unanticipated situation, they had to rebuild after World War II. However, soon after, business picked up. The store was only selling supplies, novels and textbooks (at one point daily necessities like soap!) but now sold textbooks, notebooks, school supplies, greeting cards, etc. The Ramoses, with successful projects under their belt, decided to aim for making books of high quality -and simultaneously low priced- readily available; thus, establishing several publishing agreements and contracts. The National Book Store of Philippines employs more than 2,500 people in over 80 branches across the Philippines.

2. Tony Tan Caktiong

Jollibee Foods Corporation

At the age of 22, Tony Tan Caktiong opened ice cream parlours that kept expanding so much so, hired help was needed. They added chicken, burgers and spaghetti to their menu soon enough. The business grew nationwide and globally (including the USA, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Vietnam) with 1300 stores worldwide. His success of creating a food chain with tremendous popularity has been acknowledged on several occasions; making it on Forbes’ Philippines’ 50 Richest and Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Mr Caktiong accredits Jollibee's popularity to catering to the taste of the people. He served spaghetti with a sweet taste for Filipinos who have a sweeter preference when it comes to foods. Owing to the fact that the majority of people love eating here, the insect was chosen for its joyous and hardworking nature. So, the company was christened Jollibee.

3. Lucio Tan

Philippine Airlines

Lucio Tan had a degree in chemical engineering, even so, his career started with becoming a janitor. The cigarette factory he entered in as a janitor introduced him to the tobacco industry. He created his own tobacco company, Fortune Tobacco Corp. It is believed that with the assistance of Ferdinand Marcos, Tan gained reigns of Allied Banking Corp., started Asia Brewery, Inc. and became the chairman of Philippine Airlines, Inc. All his assets and corporations summed up to have him esteemed as the richest man in the Philippines in 1995. As on Forbes, “Lucio Tan is the founder and chairman of the $2 billion (sales) LT Group, which has interests in tobacco, spirits, banking and property development.”

4. Atty. Felipe L. Gozon

GMA Network, Inc.

Atty. Felipe L. Gozon is a lawyer turned CEO. Gozon worked extremely hard for he believed the broadcasting industry to be "very challenging yet fulfilling". When 75, he published his own autobiography “Felipe L. Gozon: How GMA Became No. 1” and has a children’s book discussing how his family affects his perspective of business  titled “Kapuso Mo, Atty. Felipe L. Gozon,”. GMA is a leading network in the Philippines and he has received multiple awards celebrating the success. He was the first Filipino recipient of “The Global Leadership Award for Excellence in Media Sector” awarded at the 2015 Global Leadership Awards in Malaysia. He also managed to earn a spot-on Forbes' Philippines’ 50 Richest in 2016. 

5. Henry Sy


Henry Sy's success rode across a long, bumpy path to reach him. He tried his luck at a sari-sari business and at selling American shoes. He decided to get a degree in commerce and decided upon opening a shoe store in Manila, 1958. Soon enough, he was able to evolve it into the SM group of companies, as known today. Despite continuous setbacks in his early life, he remained steadfast at achieving his goals. This display of patience and consistent effort kept him as one of the richest and most influential business tycoons.

6. Jaime Zobel de Ayala

Ayala Corporation

Jamie Zobel de Ayala became the president & chairman of Ayala Corporation in 1995 after his father stepped down.  He has numerous awards validating his success; FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism by FIRST Magazine (2005), became the first Filipino to receive Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award by the Harvard Business School (2007) and 1st Best CEO by Finance Asia (2009). He is also quite an active philanthropist.

7. Alfredo Yao

Zest-O Corporation

Alfredo Yao's story starts with a low past, his father died when he was just 12 and as the eldest sibling, he had to take up the role of being the head of the household. His education, despite him wanting to continue, was left incomplete. He used a bank loan to start up a printing business for packaging, sticking to it for an estimated twenty years. Since the business came to be with the assistance of his mother, he named it after her, too. After a Europe business tour, he used the Doypack packaging to hit off his juice company, Zest-O. Zest-O became a familiar name in every house due to its convenience of its convenient packaging. Alfredo Yao now enjoys his positions as the founder of Macay Holdings, Zesto Corp., owner of a majority in the Philippines Business Bank.

8. Mariano Que

Mercury Drugstore

Mariano Que started working at a drugstore. When he had enough money, he bought sulfathiazole tablets for his countrymen after World War II. Using the pushcart made of wood, he charged per tablet so the affordability increased. He gained profit and constructed the first Mercury Drug store, which earned a reputation for housing safe and effective medicines. A pioneer in the industry, Mercury drug was the first to have a central computerized and temperature-controlled warehouse, round the clock service and pharmacy counselling. He used his wealth and profit to continuously give back to the community, putting funds in different projects, like free medical checkups or scans for communities or full scholarships for pharmacy students. He even received a Doctor of Humanities degree from the University of Sto. Tomas College of Medicine for his innovative and charitable work. 

9. Cecilio K. Pedro

Lamoiyan Corporation

Cecilio K. Pedro attended Ateneo Manila University, graduating with his business management degree. He's the founder of Lamoiyan Corp which, today, houses brands like Hapee or Kutitap.  His success came from cleverly bringing new features into an existing market, earning a spot amongst the foreign competitors. His corporation is also respected for opening job opportunities for the hearing-impaired.

10. Corazon D. Ong

CDO Foodsphere, Inc.

Corazon D. Ong founded CDO foods. Ms One would cook up patties, beef, bacon products and her dishes would be well received in her circle. Due to her being a nutritionist, she had familiarised herself with the taste of the target audience, Filipinos. CDO Foodsphere Inc. is quite popular amongst working parents for the convenience and ease to cook off their products.

The top famous entrepreneurs have had hard work bring success. Their accounts prove setbacks are common. How and if you overcome these is what matters. Their characteristics as an entrepreneur paved a long way in the business world. Entrepreneurs need an unwavering mindset and a focused vision. Success stories are not one and the same, hence no set formula to achievements.

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