Lucio Tan in Vivienne's eyes

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Editors Note: Lucio Tan started with a humble beginning. What is interesting is to hear is that the company where Lucio Tan closed down after John Gokongwei started his company. The best information is always the insiders'. Who is Lucio Tan in the eyes of her daughter? Read on to take a glimpse.)

From Philippine Daily Inquirer
by Margie Quimpo-Espino

THE lives of the rich and famous always fascinate people.

Every tidbit of information is taken note of. The richest men in the country are often the most elusive. They very rarely give interviews to media and avoid the cameras as much as they can.
A glimpse of one of the Philippines richest man, Lucio Tan, can be had from the words of daughter Vivienne in a speech she delivered years ago but which still provides a rare opportunity to see the man in the eyes of his daughter:

"And so today please allow me to share with a few stories on parenting I learned by walking down memory lane.

My father, born of very humble beginnings … an immigrant from China with little knowledge of the local dialect … wasn’t able to graduate with a degree, and who faced racial discrimination—rampant at that time … he struggled his way to become one of the most successful industrialists in the Philippines. For most, he is the astute … controversial … shrewd … and reclusive Kapitan … but he is first and foremost, Dad to me and my first teacher.

Let me start with this story:

Once upon a time, our whole family went to Japan for a vacation. It was a freezing day in Tokyo. I was a skinny seven-year-old wearing my favorite pullover with an apple on it. My younger sister and I were left with my dad. As always, the older ones spent their time doing their shopping while the younger ones were stuck waiting for them to finish.

We were outdoors and my sister and I were freezing, our teeth chattering, once in a while playing smoke rings and warming our hands in our pockets. My dad slowly approached us, sat down, smiled and softly said, "Just think it is not cold."

My younger sister and I just looked at each other with a puzzled look unable to comprehend how he could even say such a thing, when it was downright cold. I thought that maybe the cold had started to get to his brain.

Perhaps sensing our skepticism, my dad persisted and said, "Relax, close your eyes and imagine. Think of the color green, imagine grass, think of the color yellow, imagine the sun, think of sunflower … imagine the colorful butterflies … imagine hearing the birds chirping … imagine the weather … it is summer, it is hot ..."

Then, as if under a magic spell, I felt my body slowly stop shivering, my teeth stopped jittering. When I opened my eyes, I was actually still with my father, who was now smiling. Then he said: "See? It is all in the mind. Just believe."

Up to this day, I warmly bring to mind that story, especially during difficult times and when "cold" circumstances arise in my life.

Ten years later, my first year in the US to me was a turning point.The first few months, I saw the typical things seen on TV, US college life; parties, sex, drugs, alcohol. Peer pressure was so visible. Since I was brought up with a solid foundation and I was never a person who can easily be persuaded, I never got lured into those things … usually. I stayed on track and focused on school.
On my second term, my friends started getting to me. Like some schoolmates, I started to cut classes, go to parties, shop, hang out. I knew I was not doing the right thing but why can’t my friends and schoolmates see anything wrong? How can they use their tuition funds, given to them by their parents, to buy cars and other things? I felt so lost. I felt so confused.

One time, I came home from spring break… my dad was there. He was carrying a piece of paper. I was shocked to see that it was actually my grade report! Up to this day, I never asked how it got to him. Full of shame—I remember I didn’t want to look up.

Instead of getting scolded, he used his gentle voice and asked: "How can your grades of As and Bs deteriorate to Cs and even Ds?" I was burning with guilt. I wished he just scolded or yelled at me. But no. He didn’t. He continued by saying: "I can buy you everything you want but I cannot buy you knowledge. The best I can do is to give you everything you need to acquire that knowledge. And that, I have given you. The rest is up to you."

"The rest is up to me" … those words hit me like a ton of bricks. I took for granted my education. Knowledge is priceless. Things became clearer and I knew what to do.
Four years later, in 1991, I was fortunate enough to graduate from the University of San Francisco with a double degree in Math & Computer Science. Being a computer science graduate from the US in the ’90s, I could have actually commanded a handsome salary. True enough I had good job offers with great salaries from the best multinational companies.

My dad who had just flown in at that time asked me which offer I had decided to take. I boastfully replied that as a computer science grad I was entitled to wait for the highest bid, which would surely come along. He paused and then wisely said, "Be humble. Don’t look at the money, but rather, look at what you really want to do and the amount of learning and growth you would get." He further added, "In fact, you should pay tuition to the company for giving you the training you need."
These are just a few of my memorable learning points. In the end, we are the sum total of our experiences. The lessons that I have learned from my father are some essential principles I carry with me today and that I believe will make a successful individual. Belief … passion … and knowledge—a few important values that I was to bring back to the Philippines."
Click here to see who made it to the top 40 richest Filipino for 2008.

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