Edited transcription of the Extemporaneous Eulogy of Retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN for Dr. George S. K. Ty held at 8:00 pm on November 24, 2018 at the Heritage Memorial Park, Taguig City.
About 6 p.m. last night, November 23, as I was seated in my car on my way to attend the Homecoming of the San Beda Law Alumni Association at the Club Filipino in San Juan City, with President Rodrigo Duterte as Guest Speaker, I was totally shocked when Nick Torres, the Executive Director of the Metrobank Foundation, called me over my mobile phone to say that our beloved Group Chair (GC), Dr. George S. K. Ty, had joined Our Lord and Father in the Great Beyond. For a long while, I was dumb-founded in disbelief and could not immediately talk. Only a few weeks ago, he asked me to see him in his office and gave me a rare 100-year old original Chinese painting already framed and ready to be put up on a wall. I, of course, noticed his pale facial appearance, frail physical condition and soft voice. But I had no idea that his mortal life would end so fast and so soon.
Nick requested me to ask His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, whether he could preside over the Mass tonight, November 24, in honor of Dr. Ty. So, even while I was already seated beside President Duterte during the San Beda function, I was busy exchanging texts with His Eminence who was in Hong Kong to relay the request. Ever the kind servant of God, Cardinal Tagle said he was going back to Manila this morning, November 24, and would be with us this evening as, indeed, he did celebrate the Eucharist a few minutes ago, complete with his wise but easy-to-understand homily. However, he would fly to Rome tomorrow in pursuit of his priestly duties as head of Caritas International, the world-wide charity arm of the universal Church.
Then, about five hours ago, Nick was again on the phone to advise me of the request of the Ty family to deliver this eulogy tonight. At first, I was hesitant to accept because I knew, and I told Nick, that during the Mass the Cardinal would already be delivering a homily about our GC but Nick replied that my eulogy would be separate from His Eminence’s homily.
There is another reason why I was hesitant to accept. I knew that this first night of the wake was private and reserved exclusively for his family and for the officers of the Metrobank Group, who of course have known him much longer than I, and who therefore know him better and are more capable of delivering this first eulogy. But Nick was insistent because he said I was considered a member of the Metrobank family. And so, I humbly accepted.
Yes, all of you in this hall tonight know better than I how our Group Chairman founded, built and nurtured Metrobank to become one of the most respected financial institutions in our country and in Asia with branches in the United States, China, Japan and many other places, and how he expanded it into one of the largest conglomerates in our country with controlling interests in banking, insurance, finance, motor vehicles, real estate, power generation, etc. You know better than I that Metrobank has been repeatedly hailed by its peers, in particular by Euromoney, as “The Best Bank” and as “The Strongest Bank” in the Philippines.
Yes, you all know him better than I to be a man of integrity and generosity, who always gives everyone his or her due, who will never take advantage of another for any reason whatsoever, who values trust and confidence more than anything else, and who treasures his word more than any gold.
Yes, you all know him better than I to be a visionary leader who believes that business success is possible only if shared equitably with all stakeholders: the owners, managers, workers, customers and the nation; who thinks not only of the immediate but also of the long-term; who vows that principles and values are more important than profits and balance sheets; and who thinks of others more than he thinks of himself.
Yes, you all know better than I how he values hard work, discipline and leadership by example — what he requires of others, he demands more from himself and when he asks others to be on time, he himself was always there ahead of time.
Yes, you all know better than I how gifted an entrepreneur and how passionate a philanthropist he is, devoted to the promotion of the excellence, education and well-being of the poor and underprivileged.
Yes, you know better than I that Dr. George S. K. Ty is a respected business leader, a towering patriarch to his coworkers, an exemplary father to his children, a caring husband to his wife Mary, a generous philanthropist and a model citizen of our country.
Since all of you already know all his achievements, qualities, goals, principles and values, I will no longer detail them. Let me just share some personal stories that exemplify them.
First, I met him about 20 years ago when he invited me to be a member, and later chairman, of the Board of Judges of the Search for the 10 Outstanding Teachers sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation. During several hours of interviews lasting two days, he was always present on a side chair, patiently listening but never intruding in the proceedings. At that time, he was the active Chairman of Metrobank and many other companies, yet he found precious time to listen attentively to the long interviews of the teachers.
I think he particularly observed how I questioned the aspirants. At one time, I asked one of them, “Are you a depositor or borrower, or in any way a customer of the services and products of Metrobank?” Upon hearing her “No, sir” answer, I followed up with another question, “If the Bank is not getting anything from you, not even requiring you to ask your relatives or your friends to patronize its services, why do you think Metrobank will reward you generously with a cash award of P120,000 (increased to P1 million last year) and other prizes if and when you are chosen as one of the winners, given that the sponsor, Metrobank, gets nothing of pecuniary value from this contest?”
Because she could hardly twiddle with her answer, I helped her with some leading questions, “Don’t you think it is because Metrobank’s objective is not business but purely education? Not profit, but the promotion of excellence? Don’t you think this contest is pure philanthropy without a hint of propaganda or self-promotion?”
As I was asking these questions, I noted the soft smile of our GC because the questions touched a soft spot in his altruistic heart. And from then on, we became good friends. Let me quickly add that he never asked from, or was given any favor by, me as a sitting member of the Supreme Court. Our friendship flourished purely on mutual respect and genuine brotherly affection.
Second, after I retired from the judiciary, he invited me to be a Senior Adviser of Metrobank and a member of the Board of Advisers of Metrobank Foundation. After the Chair of the Board of Advisers, former President Corazon C. Aquino, died on August 1, 2009, he invited me to replace her. While thankful, I remonstrated that there were others more qualified to take her place. But he was persuasive. And in deference to his request more than to my qualifications, I accepted. I am grateful because he always heeded my advice on the nature, kind and type of projects the well-endowed Foundation should undertake.
Third, a few years ago, while seated beside him at a lunch at the Penthouse of the GT Tower in Ayala Avenue, Makati, I whispered to him how impressed I was with his son Alfred for always besting me in our golf games. On hearing this, he summoned Alfred who was seated on the opposite side of the table and told him quietly, “The Chief Justice told me that you are a very good golfer. That is bad. It means you are often in the golf course and not giving enough time to your work.” I was of course embarrassed at this chastisement. After the lunch, I sidled to Alfred and said, “I am sorry I put you in trouble. I thought I was praising your single-digit golf game. But your disciplinarian Dad looked at it in another way.” Aware of how strict his father was, the young man took the chastisement gamely and gracefully. Since then, I stopped playing with him, lest I slipped and put him in trouble again.
Fourth, some eight years ago, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala invited me to sit as an Independent Director of BPI. Though I felt honored by his invitation, I could not accept it because I was already connected with Metrobank. He responded that he knew about that fact because he already checked my career. I finally said that I would have to advise our GC and, that if he had any objection or even just a hint of reservation, I would respectfully decline. When I phoned Maebel, the GC’s efficient Executive Secretary, for an appointment, he took hold of the phone and said he would be the one to see me in my house, not me going to his office. I was again embarrassed and explained it was I who wanted to see him, thus, I should be the one journeying to his office, not him going to my home. Since we could not settle the venue of our meeting, I finally just told him over the phone about the invitation of Jaime. Without any hesitation, he immediately said, “Please accept the offer. I fully trust you. I know you will never reveal any business secret, whether of Metrobank or of BPI or of anyone.” That, in short, explains why I am involved with two of the largest banks in our country — because of the trust and goodwill reposed by both Metrobank and BPI. By way of footnote, may I explain that after serving BPI as an Independent Director for five years, I have become an adviser, like I am still today of Metrobank.
Fifth, during the meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the Philippines in 2015, Toyota leased several motor vehicles to the government. Alfred Ty, who headed Toyota Philippines, told me that after the conference, the vehicles would be sold at discounted prices. I asked him whether the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP), which I chaired (up to now), can buy one used Toyota Innova for the FLP’s secretariat. A week later, Alfred phoned me to say that our GC wanted to visit me at home, to which of course I agreed to. And lo and behold, the GC brought a brand new red Innova as his gift to the FLP. In fact, he brought with him not only the vehicle but also the registration certificate already in FLP’s name. Such is his unsolicited generosity for worthy causes.
Sixth, at another occasion, he visited me at home, saying that God had been kind to him because all his business ventures have been successful. In thanksgiving, he wanted to donate 10 percent of his wealth to philanthropy. Given that he is one of the richest men in our country, 10 percent is quite a huge sum. Consider also that corporations give only a maximum of two percent of their net income to corporate social responsibility. But he was giving 10 percent of his total wealth to philanthropy, in addition to that already being given by his many large companies. From this huge wealth, he initially set aside one billion pesos to establish the nonprofit Toyota Institute of Technology. The school would focus on science and technology and later, on entrepreneurship in medium and small enterprises because we thought that excellence in those fields was needed to eradicate extreme poverty among our people.
Seventh, many years ago, the retired Chairman of Toyota Japan, Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda, visited our country. Our GC hosted a private dinner for about 12 guests in his home where he invited me and my wife Leni. He seated me on the left side of the legendary Dr. Toyoda. During the course of the dinner, I asked him why Toyota Motors Japan yielded majority control of their subsidiary in the Philippines to the Metrobank Group when in all other parts of the world, Toyota always kept the majority. He explained that his company had, and still have, absolute trust in our GC because it was only in the Philippines that Toyota had consistently topped all other motor vehicle brands for 27 consecutive years. Not even in Japan has such a record been equaled, not to say surpassed. In fact, he added that Dr. Ty offered to surrender control but their head office refused, knowing that Toyota would be safe in the good hands of our GC, as all its customers are in the “good hands of Metrobank.”
Eighth, after I related to Dr. Toyoda the establishment of the Toyota Institute of Technology, he was so impressed that he matched Dr. Ty’s donation of one billion pesos. Ah, the generosity of Dr. Ty was doubled — not for the benefit of his family or businesses but for the good of the students of that educational institution.
Ninth, though he never flaunted his religious faith, he built and paid for single-handedly the “Mary the Queen Catholic Church” in Nanjing, China in thanksgiving for the successful establishment of the Metrobank branches in several Chinese cities. Realizing his firm belief in the Almighty, I advised him of the need to strengthen, restore and refurbish the Manila Cathedral which had been swaying at the slightest earthquake, and at the passing of heavy cargo trucks by its side. I explained to him that, as president of the Metropolitan Manila Cathedral-Basilica Foundation, with Cardinal Tagle as chairman, I have been tasked to raise funds for the project. Without batting an eye lash, he became one the largest donors of the Cathedral.
Tenth, he cherished our friendship so much that he invited me to and expected my presence in every important gathering of his family and of the Metrobank Group, be they seminars, masses, office inaugurations in many parts of the world, anniversaries, VIP hosting, or plain fellowships. That is why even if I am scheduled to receive tonight at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City the “Diamond Jubilee Tamaraw Award” given only once every 50 years by the Far Eastern University Law Alumni Association, I decided to come here, attend the Mass of His Eminence and condole with the Ty Family. Instead, I asked our daughter Maria Theresa P. Manalac to apologize for my absence and to receive the award on my behalf.
I can narrate more stories about Dr. Ty but our time is limited. Suffice it to say for now that despite his many achievements as a business giant and philanthropist, he has kept a very low profile and has remained humble and meek. Indeed, he personifies the saying that the truly great are the humblest of all. He reminds me of how our Lord, Jesus Christ described himself in the Bible “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Let me repeat that key phrase of our Lord, “I am meek and humble of heart.”
Whenever I reminisce about our beloved GC, I am always reminded of these words of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am especially touched by the phrase “meek and humble of heart” because our beloved GC was an accomplished entrepreneur and a genrous philanthropist, yet he was always meek and humble, as Cardinal Tagle, in his homily, repeatedly stressed.
Tonight, as we gather to say adieu to him, we should not really worry and grieve too much. True, like all of you, I feel sad for I will greatly miss him. But I am certain that he is now with our Father in heaven, enjoying the biblical promise of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 14:1-4, “Let not your hearts be troubled…In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you there myself; so that where I am, you also shall be.”
Yes, our beloved GC is now enjoying a new life of peace and love in the bosom of the Father and lives in the heavenly dwelling place reserved for him. But he is also a free spirit capable of being with us on earth. In fact, as I whispered to Mrs. Mary Ty when she embraced my wife Leni as we arrived in this hall, “Our beloved Group Chair is with us, above us, watching us, safeguarding us, inspiring us and moving us to be the best of what we can be. And we will be the best of what we can be by constantly remembering, imbibing, personifying, practicing and championing his vision, mission and values of integrity, industry, fairness, generosity, honor, dignity, meekness, thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, discipline and dedication to duty.
Maraming salamat po.