Running a business is no easy feat, and raising a family is a totally different story. Behind their successful careers are blood, sweat and tears, and the foundational backbone of these fathers: their wives and their children.
As we celebrate Father’s Day, PhilStarL!fe sits down with these business executives on career, life and family.
A legacy of building relationships
Born to a Chinese migrant, Eusebio “Yosi” Tanco’s way of mentoring people—including his own children—is rooted in his own experience with his father, Agustin.
“We were exposed at a very early age. My father is not the type who will carry a whip and say, ‘You have to work hard. You have to do this and that',” says Yosi, who runs businesses from various sectors, including STI Education Systems Holdings and Asian Terminals.
“My father would just say go ahead, venture. Do what you want, but I’m always behind you, just in case you flutter. That, for me, is a very important thing, that there’s somebody behind me that should I fall, somebody can pick me up. He lent me his guts, but the rest we have to struggle and fight for it.”
Yosi had inherited an interest in business from his father who started out as a trader and eventually ventured into manufacturing. However, for Yosi, he decided to embark apart from what his father started. It’s not exactly typical in Chinese business culture, but Yosi regards his father as 100 percent supportive of his decision.
Years after making his business moves, Yosi’s children, Vanessa and Jaeger, eventually followed in his footsteps in pursuing their own ventures. Vanessa currently serves as president and CEO of iACADEMY. Jaeger, meanwhile, founded his own public relations agency Comm&Sense. He also heads insurance companies PhilCare and PhilLife Financial, and up-and-coming IT company, Stitch Tech Solutions.
The Tanco siblings still credit the importance of good mentoring and the continuous support from their father.
“Personally, I made mistakes,” Vanessa confesses. “I probably could have grown a lot faster if Dad just tells me exactly what to do every step of the way. But by him, allowing me to just learn while I’m running the business, make my mistakes, find out how to do things right on our own, being more experimental, engaging in our own creativity instead of being told what to do every step of the way.
I wasn’t sure I could handle it myself, but it’s that trust and giving you that, I guess, courage to embark on something without always breathing down your neck - it was very helpful.”
“With my dad, he also believes that in business, it’s not just about the theories you read, or about implementing them. It’s also the way you talk to people, it’s your relationship with people, that makes a business successful. After all, you can’t do everything on your own even how good you think you are,” says Jaeger.
But it’s not just Yosi who has made an impact in Jaeger’s life. He shares that while Agustin, lovingly called Kongkong by his family, may not have been with him for that long, as he died when Jaeger was only seven, their times together proved to be very memorable and helped shape the man he is right now.
“Kongkong learned I was fond of animals when I was young. He then arranged for a small area in our Antipolo property, so it can house a mini-zoo. It had birds and rabbits. He would bring me there every Saturday, right after I ‘work’ with him in the factory by sitting through his meetings. I loved that mini-zoo because it was everything I had ever wanted at that time. Saturday was always a day I looked forward to, it was a balance of work and play for me as a young boy,” Jaeger says.
Life and death
Since the founding of the St. Peter Group of Companies in 1970, perhaps it’s safe to say that Jonathan Bautista Vitangcol was born into the business his grandfather, Francisco Bautista, built when he was an infant. Being exposed to the death care industry all his life, Jonathan drew great inspiration from his lolo, who served as his father figure because his dad passed away when he was only 12 years old.
“I saw how Lolo Tatay [Francisco] trained and molded my mom to run the business. I’d like to think that was how I was able to lead myself into studying business and getting into it as well,” Vitangcol quips. “When I was in college, during summers, Lolo Tatay would expose me to getting trained in several departments inside the office—accounting, bookkeeping, memorial service—he exposed and made me observe what was happening inside the mortuary.”
A notorious and taboo industry in the eyes of many, Jonathan continues to educate customers and clients on pre-needs and deathcare. Now senior vice president - COO for St. Peter Life Plan, Jonathan remains grounded with the values of time, family, and looking after your employees.
“All your employees are your first customers. If you won’t be able to treat them well or give them opportunities to become better, you won’t be successful in satisfying your clients. Lolo always placed his employees first, he shared his success with them and would treat them at the end of the year.
The best memories I remember of my dad were weekly activities as a family, like going to Fiesta Carnival in Cubao and watching movies together. Despite my busy schedule, I do my best to spend as much time with my wife and children, too. Lolo taught us to value time and use it wisely with the right people.”
A life well-rounded and well-traveled, Frederick “Fred” Ong has had a stellar career as a senior executive for companies around Southeast Asia. From his humble beginnings at Nestle Philippines, Fred has served stints for different FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and consumer electronic companies in Malaysia and Singapore. Last year, he was called home to serve as president and CEO of Pepsi Philippines.
A doting father to two daughters who are currently overseas in the United Kingdom, Fred maximizes every opportunity he can get to spend time with the special ladies in his life.
“My wife, Gretchen, and I are empty nesters. Our eldest graduated last year and will be starting her new job at an investment bank in London soon. Our youngest is an incoming final year student in London,” Frederick proudly shares.
“There are two things we love to do as a family: eat and travel. We love seeing new places and trying new cuisines. Though we are also creatures of habit—we like going back to places we love. My girls love the ballet and theater, and so I end up joining them more often than not.”
The years of work experience has also allowed Fred to build the loving family he has today, owing to respect, dignity and fear of God—three important lessons he learned from his own father.
“I try to lead by example whether that be at home or at work. I believe that putting God at the center is the most important of the three. Everything else follows,” Fred says.