Roberto Ongpin

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Roberto Ongpin
Born Roberto Luis Melchor Velayo Ongpin
(1937-01-06) January 6, 1937 (age 80)
Manila, Philippine Commonwealth
Residence Manila, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Education Ateneo de Manila University
Occupation Businessman
Known for Businessman, former Marcos-era Minister of Trade and Industry
Net worth $680 million (June 2014)

Roberto Velayo Ongpin, born on January 6, 1937[1] to Luis Roa Ongpin and Lourdes Morales Velayo,[2] is a prominent Filipino businessman and Minister of Trade and Industry during the Marcos administration. His younger brother, Jaime Velayo Ongpin, was Minister of Finance of the Philippines under President Cory Aquino.[3]

His business interests lie in real estate development, resort development, mining, energy, and transportation.

Early life and education[edit]

Roberto Velayo Ongpin was born on January 6, 1937. He is the second of seven children by Luis Roa Ongpin and Lourdes Morales Velayo. He grew up in the neighborhood of Pinaglabanan in San Juan, which was then a suburbs of the City of Manila.[4] Roberto Ongpin is the great grandson of Román T. Ongpin, a Filipino-Chinese businessman and philanthropist who aided Filipino revolutionaries against the Spanish and American colonial administration in the Philippine islands. The Ongpins have been named as among the "most influential and enduring families of the Philippines" for their contributions to the nation's growth.[5][6][7][8]

Ongpin was able to attend school through a scholarship. After graduating from Ateneo High School, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (cum laude) from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1957. He became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 1958, after which he briefly joined Procter & Gamble in Manila.[9]

In 1961, Ongpin earned his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard University.[10] It was during his time in Harvard that he met and married his wife of 55 years, Monica Arellano of Valparaiso, Chile. They have two children together, Stephen Arellano Ongpin and Anna Arellano Ongpin. He also has two other children from different mothers, Michelle Schroer Ongpin and Julian Stone Ongpin.[11][12]

1986 People Power Revolution[edit]

In the early hours of February 22, 1986, as Roberto V. Ongpin was preparing to go to Malacañan Palace for a meeting with President Marcos, US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, and Special Envoy Philip Habib, he noticed that his military escorts had been pulled out. Ongpin's subsequent calls to then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile inquiring about the whereabouts of his security detail inadvertently alerted Enrile that Marcos may have already been aware of his plans to stage a coup de'tat. This triggered Enrile's hasty break from the government, eventually leading to the People Power Revolution that installed Corazon C. Aquino as the new Philippine President.[13][14]

Business career[edit]

Sycip Gorres Velayo[edit]

After moving back to the Philippines in 1963, Roberto V. Ongpin was recruited by his maternal uncle, Fred Velayo to work for "the Philippines' largest multidisciplinary professional services firm," Sycip Gorres Velayo & Company (SGV). According to SGV Chairman Emeritus Washington Sycip, Ongpin is "one of the most aggressive and effective managers" he has ever known. In 1966, two years after joining the firm, Ongpin - who was barely 30 years old at that time - was named a managing partner of SGV. He served the company from 1964 to 1979.[15][16]

Minister of Trade and Industry[edit]

In 1979, Roberto V. Ongpin became the Philippines' youngest Trade and Industry Minister at age 42 when he accepted the invitation of former Philippine President, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr., to join his cabinet.[17]

During his six-years as Minister, Ongpin grappled with the deteriorating economy as political instability made funding from international agencies and banks difficult for the government. On occasion, he personally had to negotiate financing for the Philippines with other world leaders, including Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and Iraq's President Saddam Hussein.[18][19][20]

In 1984, with "the Philippines facing a debt and foreign exchange crisis, the black market exchange rate soared to Php 30 per Dollar (versus the official rate of Php 14 per Dollar)." Ongpin is credited with stabilizing the Philippine Peso by establishing the "Binondo Central Bank," a dual exchange rate system that allowed the government to narrow the rate gap by directly intervening in black market currency prices.[21][22]

Belle Corp/Tagaytay Highlands[edit]

After the fall of Marcos, Roberto V. Ongpin concentrated on growing his businesses. Among his first ventures Belle Corp. with former fellow Binondo Central Bank veteran, Benito Tan Guat. As chief executive officer, Ongpin was "undoubtedly recognized as the creator" of the Belle's flagship development, Tagaytay Highlands. He was also "instrumental in transforming the property into what it is today, one of the premier developments outside Metro Manila," and "the single largest - and most successful - upscale resort community in the Philippines to date."[23][24]

Atok-Big Wedge, Inc.[edit]

Roberto V. Ongpin is also the chairman of investment holding company Atok-Big Wedge, Inc. The company's primary purpose is general investment. The company's second purposes include mining, real estate, manufacturing, processing, lending and borrowing money.[25]


Ongpin is also Chairman of Alphaland Balesin Island Club, Inc., and the City Club at Alphaland Makati Place, Inc.; the developers of the Balesin Island Club, a "world-class, members-only resort that has been described as a 500-hectare paradise with 7.3 kilometers of pristine white sand beaches, located 21 kilometers southwest of Polillo, Quezon Province," and the City Club, an Php 8 billion multi-use commercial residential complex that has three high-rise buildings, a shopping mall, and a "3-hectare leisure, entertainment and business club."[26][27][28] In 2015, Alphaland’s comprehensive net income rose 31% to P7.2 billion, from P5.5 billion in the previous year.[29]

Ongpin also owns and operates Alphaland Aviation, Inc., which has a pending petition before the Philippines Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to be allowed "to be granted the authority to operate domestic air transportation services." Alphaland Aviation currently provides exclusive charter services to Balesin Island Club located in Lamon Bay, Quezon province.[30][31]

PhilWeb Corporation (South Seas Oil and Mineral Exploration Co. Inc.)[edit]

In 1969, Ongpin established South Seas Oil and Mineral Exploration Co. Inc. a mining and exploration company incorporated on August 20 of that year. On March 29, 1984, the stockholders authorized the change in the Company’s name to South Seas Natural Resources, Inc., which was approved by the SEC.[32]

On January 18, 2000, South Seas Natural Resources, Inc. became PhilWeb.Com, Inc., an internet company, upon the stockholders’ approval of a restructuring plan which involved changes in the Company’s name, and primary purpose, among others.

At the annual stockholders’ meeting on May 31, 2002, the stockholders approved the change in corporate name from, Inc. to PhilWeb Corporation. The stockholders also approved the inclusion of the gaming business as an additional secondary purpose of the Company. The SEC approved these changes on November 5, 2002.

In August 2016, Ongpin resigned his post as chairman of PhilWeb Corporation, after being tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as being part of the oligarchy, which was followed by a subsequent order to halt the online gambling industry, which was the core business of Philweb.[33]

The unexpected singling out of Ongpin by the President has puzzled many observers, with some speculating that he may have just been a victim of the Philippines' "murky" politics.[34] Ongpin's decision to sell his shares in PhilWeb to former president Marcos' son-in-law, Gregorio Araneta III, has led to a lessening of the political pressure on himself and the company, allowing him to focus on his other business interests.[35][36][37]

Local and International Business Affiliations[edit]

Mr. Roberto V. Ongpin was also previously the Chairman by Philippine Bank of Communications, Inc., Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc., (2006-2011), Belle Corporation, La Flor dela Isabela (1996), Sinophil Corporation, RVO Capital Ventures Corporation, Tabacalera Incorporada, Connectivity Unlimited Resource Enterprise, Inc. (2006), and Philippine Global Communications, Inc. (PHILCOM). He was vice chairman of Philex Mining Corporation (2007-2009).

He was Director for the following corporations Araneta Properties, Inc., (until 2009), Ginebra San Miguel Corporation (2010-2013), Petron Corporation (2008-2014), San Miguel Corporation (2009-2014), PAL Holdings, Inc. and Philippine Airlines, Inc. (2012-2014), and Makati Shangri-La Hotel & Resort, Inc. (2003-2014).

Ongpin has also beem affiliated with various foreign companies, including as Chairman of the Acentic GmbH (2010-2013), Developing Countries Investment Corp. (Until 2011), and Dragon Oil London, Plc. He was also Deputy Chairman of the South China Morning Post (1993-2005), Vice Chairman of AIA Capital Corporation (Hong Kong), Director E2-Capital (Holdings) Ltd (presently CIAM Group Ltd) (until 2008), and Non-Executive Director at Forum Energy Plc UK (2009-2015), and Shangri-la Asia Hong Kong, (2003-2014).[38][39][40]


  1. ^ "Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984," database with images, FamilySearch( : 26 May 2016), Roberto Luis Melchor Ongpin, 06 Jan 1937; citing Birth, Manila, Metropolitan Manila, Philippines, Civil Registry Office, City Hall of Manila; FHL microfilm 1,511,288.
  2. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin Family Tree". Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Jaime Ongpin dies". Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Stories about Roberto V. Ongpin". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin Family Tree". Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Ongpin Family Tree". Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Stories about Roberto V. Ongpin". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Most Influential and Enduring Families of the Philippines". Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin interview". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin Forbes Magazine profile". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  11. ^, by Judith Balea,. "Ongpin: I was a technocrat, not crony". Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  12. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin interview". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  13. ^ "People Power Day one". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  14. ^ "US sets conditions to save Marcos.". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin interview". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  16. ^ "History of SGV". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin interview". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Lee Kuan Yew Interview". Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Roberto V. Ongpin interview". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  20. ^ "RVO Interview". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Debt crisis and adjustment, R.S. Dohner, P. Intal, Jr." (PDF). Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  22. ^ "US sets conditions to save Marcos.". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Ongpin on Belle Corp". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Benito Tan Guat profile". Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  25. ^ "ABW profile on Bloomberg". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Alphaland City Club caters to urban family lifestyle". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Alphaland City Club opens in Makati". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  28. ^ "Balesin Club profile". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  29. ^ "Ongpin's aviation firm seeks to operate domestic flights". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Ongpin's aviation firm seeks to operate domestic flights". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Ongpin airline flies, luxury yacht sails past thunderstorm Digong". Retrieved Nov 12, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Philweb Corporate History". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016. 
  33. ^ Dela Paz, Charisse (August 7, 2016). "PhilWeb reveals 'main reason' behind Ongpin resignation". Rappler. Retrieved August 9, 2016. 
  34. ^ "New York Times - Push to Give Marcos a Philippine Hero's Burial Finds an Ally in Duterte". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Manila Bulletin - Which way Mr. President?". Retrieved Nov 11, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Ongpin airline flies, luxury yacht sails past thunderstorm Digong". Retrieved Nov 12, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Araneta Group acquires Ongpin shares in PhilWeb". Retrieved Nov 12, 2016. 
  38. ^ "RVO profile". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  39. ^ "RVO Forbes profile". Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Philippines richest list". Retrieved October 25, 2016.