UP bids farewell to benefactor Henry Sy, Sr., 94

| Written by Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta

The University of the Philippines joined the rest of the country in bidding farewell to business magnate, philanthropist and the “Father of modern Philippine retail”, Henry Sy, Sr., after whom the Henry Sy Sr. Hall at the UP Bonifacio Global City (UP BGC) campus is named.

Mr. Sy, named by Forbes as the richest person in the country, passed away on January 19, 2019 at the age of 94. At his interment on January 24 at The Heritage Park, Taguig, UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, UP Vice-President for Public Affairs Elena E. Pernia and UP Assistant Vice-President for Public Affairs Rica D. Abad were in attendance to pay their last respects to UP’s benefactor; while the UP Singing Ambassadors, led by Assistant Conductor Quintin Dwight de Luna, provided the liturgical music for the Mass and sang songs as a tribute to Mr. Sy.


The UP Singing Ambassadors singing the liturgical songs for the final Mass for Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


Starting from a small shoe store in Manila that he founded in 1958, Mr. Sy developed SM Investments Corp. (SMIC) into one of the largest conglomerates in the country. Through SMIC, the business tycoon built and donated the P400 million, nine-story building in UP’s 17th campus, located in the bustling central business district in Taguig City. The building was turned over in 2016 by one of Mr. Sy’s children, SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy to then UP President Alfredo Pascual. This was the first donation of Mr. Sy to the UP System, even if none of the SM founder’s children or grandchildren studied in UP.

“The building carries no less than my father’s name, whose prime advocacy is education,” Mr. Hans Sy said  at that time. “He worked hard and sacrificed so much early in his life just to be able to receive formal education. He wants the same for every Filipino.”


Henry Sy, Sr. Hall, at the UP Bonifacio Global City, UP’s 17th campus. Photo by UP MPRO.


Henry Sy Sr. Hall houses 29 classrooms, three laboratories, a learning commons, faculty lounges, an auditorium, a moot court or a venue for simulated court proceedings for law students, a multipurpose hall, discussion rooms, office spaces and an executive house, as well as a multi-level basement parking. It hosts professional programs accessible to working professionals in the area, administered by the different constituent universities of UP. Currently, the UP units offering programs in the campus are the UP Diliman College of Law, Virata School of Business and School of Statistics. The current executive director of the UP BGC is Dean Fides Cordero-Tan of the UP College of Law.

Mr. Henry Sy Sr. is survived by his wife, SM Foundation co-founder Felicidad Tan; their six children: SMIC Vice-Chair Teresita Sy-Coson; SM Prime Holdings Adviser to the Board of Directors Elizabeth T. Sy; SMIC Co-Vice Chairman and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Chairman Henry Sy, Jr.; Hans Sy; Vice Chairman of Supervalue Inc., Super Shopping Market Inc. and Sanford Marketing Corporation, and Director of China Banking Corporation Herbert Sy; and, SMIC Executive Director Harley Sy; and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


With the music of the UP Singing Ambassadors rising in the background, Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. is brought to his final resting place. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


Firetrucks offer a water salute to honor Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. as he is laid to rest. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.