Olivia Yanson, the 85-year-old matriarch of the Yanson Group of Bus Companies, appealed to her children to honor and respect her as their mother and co-founder of the bus conglomerate as she has only a few years to live.
In a statement sent to journalists, Olivia called on her children to pay her a visit and work for family reconciliation to ensure the smooth operations of the country’s largest bus transport organization.
“If you go out of your way and spend hours to be with your friends, why cannot you spare just 30 minutes a week and spend it with me? If I call your phones, you would not answer. When I visit you, you would give all reasons not to see me,” she said.
“Am I asking too much from each one of you? Many of you have not even visited me at my house since your father died. My pillow is full of tears every morning because of all the pain you are giving me. I think I don’t deserve this after I have sacrificed my life for each one of you. My only wish in the twilight of my life is to see all of you as a family and not fighting one another,” Olivia said.
“Your father and I made sure that each one of you would live more than comfortably but instead of counting your blessings, you turned against each other. If you continue to fight each other, there would be nothing left for the next generation,” she said.
“Each one of you has already more than enough... so work on forgiving each other so that the next generation and the generations to come can also enjoy the blessings we have left behind,” the Yanson matriarch said.
Olivia, together with her late husband Ricardo Yanson Sr., established the Yanson Group in 1968 and oversaw its growth to become a bus conglomerate that now employs 18,000 individuals who provide transport services to 700,000 passengers across the country daily.
A nurse by profession, Olivia helped her husband manage the business from the ground up. “I remember before Ceres became a successful enterprise, we could even hardly buy food and feed all our children,” she recalled.
Ceres Liner is one of the bus brands of Vallacar Transit Inc., the largest company under the Yanson Group.
Olivia reminded her children about the hardship that they went through as a family before the success of their business divided them, instead of bringing them together.
“We could hardly afford to buy medicines when our children became sick, or ensure their milk supply. I often stayed up all night so no mosquitos would bite them. Yet today, after more than five decades of tirelessly working for the success of the business, I got into this stage of seeing some of my children going against me and leaving me with nothing after all my hard work alongside their father,” she claimed.
“Precisely, I worked so hard so they did not have to endure what we have endured and that I would not beg money from them,” Olivia said.
“Now that our business has flourished, it is very painful on my part as a parent, painful to a mother like me that I have to go through all these. I have sacrificed so much and done things beyond the capabilities of a nurse, performing functions outside my core skills like being assigned to manage the warehouse, handle finances as well as ticketing,” she said.
Olivia handled the administrative operations of the company, including the management of the group’s thousands of employees.
“I willingly served the company and when I have learned the functions, I put in place systems to professionalize the operations until my husband moved me to handle personnel services where I excelled the most in motivating and drawing out the best among our workers and made them vital partners in the growth of the company,” she said.
“Because of my effective handling of personnel, many of them who are now past the retirement age, decided to still stay and help the company,” Olivia said.
The family feud started on July 7, 2019 when four Yanson siblings—Roy, Ricardo Jr., Emily and Celina—in a purported special board meeting, unseated Leo Rey Yanson as the president of VTI.
Leo Rey was subsequently replaced by his eldest brother Roy Yanson but Leo Rey with the support of his mother, Olivia and sister Ginnette Yanson Dumancas, refused to step down.
The four siblings claimed that their parents and all the children signed the family constitution and shareholder’s agreement in 2010 and 2013 when their father was still alive. The patriarch died in 2015. They said that in exchange for having zero shares in the company, her mother “owns vast lands.”
On Aug. 19, the stockholders of VTI, including the Yanson matriarch, elected a new set of board of directors who subsequently re-elected Leo Rey Yanson as the president of the company.
The special stockholders meeting effectively re-affirmed Leo Rey Yanson as the rightful president of VTI, the largest subsidiary of the Yanson Group of Bus Companies and is the company behind Ceres Liner and Sugbo Transit.
Leo Rey asked his siblings to respect the rights of their mother. “VTI was started and honed to what it is now by our parents as a conjugal venture,” Leo Rey said.
He said that claiming that her mother Olivia no longer owns VTI is plainly wrong. “It is but fitting and proper that our mother be accorded respect and control over what she built over the years,” Leo Rey said.
Leo Rey said his parents built Ceres from scratch. “Allow her to enjoy the fruits of her hard-earned labor,” he said. “Legally and morally, OVY owns VTI, OVY owns Ceres,” Leo Rey said.
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