BIZ BUZZ: Surprise from the grave | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Surprise from the grave

/ 02:22 AM February 17, 2023

Not a few people were waiting with bated breath for details about the last will and testament of the late tycoon Roberto V. Ongpin, whose ashes were scattered at sea off his beloved Balesin Island last weekend.

In particular, observers were eager to learn whether the billionaire and former government minister would leave a few surprises here and there, especially after 86 colorful, controversial and well-lived years in this world.

Well, our sources tell Biz Buzz that there were indeed two surprises when the will of the man known to his friends and foes as “RVO” (his initials) were unsealed a few days ago.


The first surprise was that Ongpin named his nephew, Eric Recto, as the executor of his estate which—according to the latest tally of Forbes magazine—was worth $830 million, making him the 23rd richest man in the country.


That surprise is actually good news to all parties concerned because Recto, who is a billionaire in his own right (but maybe in peso instead of dollar terms) is a trusted member of the larger Ongpin family who has made his own substantial pile of money over the years packaging mega deals for some of the country’s wealthiest business personalities.

The second surprise was actually the real bombshell, as Ongpin decreed in his will that he be succeeded in his business endeavors by, again, Recto (as if the surprise of being named estate executor wasn’t enough).

So yesterday, the board of directors of Alphaland Corp. convened in Makati City to formally elect RVO’s very hesitant nephew as its new leader.

As chair and CEO, Recto will now be in charge of the future of Alphaland, whose properties include the exclusive Balesin Island resort, 700 hectares on the nearby Patnanungan Island (which is being developed as an even bigger and more upscale version of Balesin), the City Club complex in Makati City, and the Alphaland Mountain Lodges in Baguio City.

Ongpin’s daughter, Anna, will continue as the company’s vice chair, while his other daughter, Michelle, was elected director to fill the vacancy created by the tycoon’s passing. Meanwhile, lawyer Rodolfo Ma. Ponferrada will remain company president in charge of making sure that the firm functions well from day to day.

More importantly, however, Recto will also be in charge of publicly listed Atok-Big Wedge. This is the holding company where the group’s 20-percent stake in the oil- and gas-rich Service Contract 72 in the West Philippine Sea’s Reed Bank is lodged.


So was it a pleasant surprise or an unpleasant one? Time will tell.

—Daxim L. Lucas
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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Eric Recto, Roberto V. Ongpin

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