MANILA -- Politicians and businessmen alike mourned Sunday the passing of billionaire John Gokongwei Jr., who died peacefully Saturday at age 93.
Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her sympathies to Gokongwei's loved ones.
"We will remember his many contributions not only to the business community, but to helping our fellow Filipinos in need," she said.
Sen. Sonny Angara hailed Gokongwei as a "man who always tried to provide value to Philippine consumers."
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former law enforcer, recalled the tycoon's donation to the Philippine Constabulary-Metrocom after it helped rescue his daughter Robina from kidnappers in 1981.
Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan thanked Gokongwei for his "legendary zest for learning and his boldness in trying out new things and his love of work and creating," saying these "have been a guidepost for how to live."
"Thank you for these and also for -- regardless of the political winds -- keeping on investing in the Philippines, employing thousands of Filipinos, and producing useful and affordable products and services," he said.
Gokongwei was "a national flag carrier who planted Filipino greatness in other lands," according to Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
"Everything about Mr. John was big — vision, dreams, kindness — yet he never tired of punching above his weight, and the obstacles he toppled paved the way for others," he said.
"But this taipan was also a colossus of generosity. Sans fanfare, he funded schools and scholarships, so that poverty will not interrupt schooling the way it did his. He spoke softly but wrote large checks."
Kamuning Bakery owner Wilson Lee Flores, meantime, described Gokongwei as one of the country's "greatest self-made industrialists, a generous philanthropist, and respected business leader."