Here come the female taipans
"May their tribe increase."
Those who eagerly await the publication of the annual Forbes list of the 20 wealthiest Filipinos were surprised when they saw the latest list, which was published a few weeks ago. For the first time ever, the list included the name of a woman. Hitherto all the names in the list had been names of the wealthiest men in this country. The unusual newcomer to the most recent Forbes list was Tessie Sy-Coson, the daughter of the late Henry Sy, the founder of the biggest business empire in this country, the SM conglomerate. For very many years Henry Sy had been the No. 1 name in the list, with an estimated personal fortune of $16 billion. When he passed away recently his fortune was divided by Forbes more or less equally among his daughter and five sons. Tessie Sy-Coson, who heads the banking side of the Sy empire (Banco de Oro, China Banking Corporation, Planters Bank and a rural bank), has thus become the first Forbes-listed female taipan. But she is not the only female taipan in this country, though the others are not included in the Forbes list. There are numerous others. Helen Yuchengco-Dee and her younger sister Yvonne Yuchengco, for instance. The two ladies are heiresses to the fortune of the late Alfonso Yuchengco, who inherited the insurance business of his father Enrique and subsequently founded Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC). Ms. Dee is the chairperson of RCBC, which is now the ninth-largest domestic commercial bank, while Ms. Yuchengco is the president of Malayan Insurance Co., one of the nation’s largest non-life insurance company. Together, the two sisters run YGC (Yuchengco Group of Companies). Additionally, Ms. Dee represents the Yuchengco family on the board of directors of telecoms giant Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Company.