BACOLOD CITY—Business tycoon John Gokongwei Jr. apparently has the vote of the people in this city.
The third richest entrepreneur in the Philippines was declared honorary mayor and adopted son of Bacolod City during rites held last Thursday at the L Fisher Hotel here.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said Gokongwei was the third honoree of the BacoLaodiat Festival, after former ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. and business tycoon Lucio Tan.
The name of the festival was culled from the words “Bacolod” and “Laodiat,” which meant celebration in the local dialect.
The BacoLaodiat festival, chaired by businessman Leonito Lopue, was held in time for the Chinese New Year.
Gokongwei, who was also proclaimed an adopted son of Bacolod, was given a special luncheon in his name, honoring him for being the first major investor to put up a mall (Robinsons) here.
Gokongwei said its was an honor to be named mayor of Bacolod.
“I’ve done many things in my 86 years of life, but I’ve never held any political office. Mayor John Gokongwei. I like the way that sounds. And to think I didn’t even have to spend months out on the streets of Bacolod campaigning, making speeches and shaking hands,” he said.
“It is also very much an honor to be named an adopted son of Bacolod. I am Bisaya, just like you. My mother, Juanita Marquez Lim, grew up in Iloilo. My father, John Gokongwei, grew up in Cebu.”
Gokongwei, chair of JG Summit Holdings, one of largest conglomerates in the Philippines, said his firms were set on expanding further in Bacolod City.
He recognized Bacolod’s huge potential for business and said it was one of the prime destinations of the Gokongwei group’s airline, Cebu Pacific Air.
Leonardia then requested Gokongwei to ask Cebu Pacific president Lance Gokongwei to consider mounting regular international flights to and from Bacolod City.
The older Gokongwei considered the proposal to be “a very good idea.”