Hobbit Business Review

Philippine Tycoon Roberto Ongpin, Founder Of Alphaland, Dies At 86

Tycoon Roberto Ongpin—founder and chairman of Philippine real estate developer Alphaland—died peacefully on Saturday at age 86.

Ongpin died in his sleep at his resort on Balesin Island, his nephew, Rafael Ongpin, said in a Facebook post over the weekend. The exclusive 500-hectare members-only tropical island, about 115 kilometers east of Manila, is part of the tycoon’s sprawling real estate empire.

The tycoon is survived by his wife, Monica Arellano, his children, Stephen, Anna, Michelle, and Julian, and four grandchildren. Anna, who has a bachelor’s degree from U.S.-based Wellesley College, has been vice chair of Alphaland since 2020.

Ongpin—who served as trade minister under the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.— took control of Alphaland by delisting it from the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2014 after a messy split from U.K. investment group Ashmore.

Alphaland has developed several high-end office and residential projects in the Makati central business district as well as a mountain resort in Baguio, about 240 kilometers north of Manila. The company is also building another resort on Patnanungan Island, near Balesin, called Balesin Gateway, it will have an airport, a golf course, a 300-room hotel and 500 private villas.

Known for courting controversy, Ongpin was among those targeted by former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a crackdown on big businesses back in 2016. Ongpin was forced to sell his controlling interest in online gaming firm PhilWeb. “I lost $360 million—I became a pariah,” Ongpin recounts in an interview with Forbes Asia in 2017.

Ongpin had a net worth of $830 million when the list of the Philippines’ Richest was last published in August. He also owns Tabacalera cigar maker and 16 homes around the world, including in Tuscany, London, Paris, Salzburg and Saint-Tropez.

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