Family is all, especially in the Philippines. Today, close family ties are still part of the Filipino core values—some clans even thriving and creating an empire that probably started with a simple meeting in the dining room.
The list of the most powerful clans in the Philippines could go beyond what this space would permit, but here are nine of them–from the fields of business, politics, and entertainment–in no particular order.
1. Zobel de Ayala
Since the partnership of Antonio de Ayala with trader Domingo Roxas, the Ayala clan became a prominent family in the realm of banking, telecommunications, retail, real estate, utilities, and business processing outsourcing. Their $4.1-billion empire, which is currently helmed by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, is the oldest and largest conglomerate in the country.
SM wasn’t kidding when they said they’ve “got it all for you.” Everyone and their mother knows the magnitude of Henry Sy’s 60-year-old empire: with more than 50 malls, residential and commercial developments, and financial services in the country.
Head honcho Henry Sy Sr. sits on top of the enterprise as chairman emeritus, while his son Henry Jr. serves as chairman and his other children hold key positions in the multi-billion business empire that started with a small shoe shop in Manila.
Even before Manuel Roxas became the fifth president of the Philippines in 1946, the Roxas clan was a powerful family of politicians in their hometown of Capiz. His mother, Judy Araneta, came from a family that has stakes in entertainment, logistics, retail, food and beverage, and the Philippine franchise to some of the world’s biggest beauty pageants.
With the fate of the Aranetas’ and Roxases’ companies inseparable, they remain one of the major powerhouses in the Philippines to this day.
Despite not having multi-billion industries like the aforementioned, the Eigenmanns are one of the most notable names in the entertainment industry, starting with the real-life love team of Rosemarie Gil and Eddie Mesa.
Aside from the second-generation Eigenmanns who are still regular faces in film and television industry, the third generation of the entertainment family has been continued with Ryan, Geoff, AJ, Ira, Maxene, Andi, and Gabby Eigenmann. Also, did we mention Sid Lucero?
No family knows about the greatest luxuries in life more than the Tantocos, the curators of the finest retail items from other countries.
When the first generation of the Tantoco empire opened Rustan’s—a witty combination of Gliceria Rustia and Bienvenido Tantoco’s last names—the department store became instantly known as the benchmark of all things luxury in the Philippines.
Currently, the descendants of the couple are not only expanding their lineup of foreign luxury items to sell here; they’re also expanding their enterprises with supermarket chains and food and retail franchising like Starbucks, Golden Spoon, and Family Mart.
Originally sugar magnates from the Visayas, patriarch Eugenio Lopez expanded his interests in the form of Meralco, ABS-CBN, and the Manila Chronicle, which were gone during the dark days of the martial law era.
After the Marcoses were ousted from the country, the family got its house back in order. Successors Manolo, Oscar, and the late Geny expanded the stakes of the company to new industries like real estate, manufacturing, telecommunications, utilities, manufacturing, and health.
No respectable list of influential families is complete without the Cojuangcos in it. The clan, coming from the bloodline of Chinese immigrant Co Yu Hwan, first settled in Bulacan and then Tarlac, which to this day remains the clan’s stronghold.
Originally the sugar lords of Central Luzon, the family went beyond the sweet trade and entered the realm of politics, food and beverage, and finance, most notably the Bank of Commerce and San Miguel Corporation, the biggest food and beverage company in the Southeast Asian region.
If the presence of two former presidents among their ranks—namely Corazon and her son Benigno Simeon—doesn’t convince you, we don’t know what will.
When former matinee idol Eddie Gutierrez married talent manager and actress Anabelle Rama, the powerhouse union became the start of the iron grip in the showbiz industry.
Gutierrez has been a mainstay in films and movies ever since the ’50s, and his children—Ruffa, Richard, Raymond, Tonton, Elvis, Ramon, Ritchie Paul, and Rocky—followed their parents’ footsteps and have graced every channel and every timeslot possible up until now. Their daughter Ruffa eventually became a second runner-up at Miss World 1993.
Despite not being known to many people in the Philippines, the Madrigals have a hand in a lot of industries in the Philippines.
It all starts with Vicente Madrigal, who is believed to be the first Filipino tycoon and industrialist.
The Madrigals started their shipping business with a single steamboat, which then expanded to a kingdom built on boats, coal, cement, and real estate. The family is also a prominent name among the country’s social circles, most notably for their involvement in philanthropy.
Former senator Jamby Madrigal is a scion of the Madrigal clan.