Manny Pangilinan: A Filipino Entrepreneur’s Success Story

When I first heard of Mr. Manny Pangilinan, I said to myself, men! Some people are just born lucky. Who would not want to have the success he enjoys today? If there are people who are born with green thumbs, this man seemed to have been born with a golden touch because everything he touches becomes very valuable like gold. But such things only happen in fairy tales, so out of curiosity I searched through the internet everything I could about this businessperson hoping to know his secret to success. Upon doing so, I realized that my first impression about his achievements was absolutely wrong. I learned that he does not possess some sort of magic at all. He was just an ordinary person like every one of us but with extra ordinary willpower to succeed.

Family background

Manuel V. Pangilinan came from a humble family tree who shares the same determination to achieving their dreams with a tedious stride up to the ladder of success. Born in July 14, 1946, Pangilinan also known as MVP is the second son of Mr. Dominador Pangilinan who had proven that a simple messenger can indeed become a president of a bank. Yes, his father started as a messenger at Philippine National Bank but retired as the president of Traders Royal Bank. This though is not the first success story in the Pangilinan family for his grandfather was actually just a simple public teacher in Pampanga and Tarlac who became a superintendent of public schools and eventually became the secretary of education.

Now I know you would be asking; how can you call that a humble beginning if he was actually a son of a bank president and a former education secretary? I did too, but it turns out that the Pangilinan family not only shares the same mind-set in achieving their ambitions, they too share what we call principle. They never used their power for their own advantage; instead they molded their sons to be strong enough not to be seduced by greed.


Manny was a scholar during his elementary and secondary years at San Beda where he was given a daily allowance of 25 centavos for his snacks and bus fare. When he went to Ateneo de Manila University where he took up a Bachelor Degree in Economics his allowance improved to P10 per week, which already includes his budget for jeepney fares. Still too modest compared to most of his classmates who have their own drivers who would take them from their home to school and vice versa. This disadvantage did not deter him instead; it encouraged him to strive forth so he too may be able to experience the same comfort in the future.

Lucks and let-downs

In 1965, before he graduated in college, he decided to take MBA in the U.S.. But his father could not afford it so he had to do something about it and with tough luck he won the national competition of a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offered by Procter & Gamble.

After two years in Philadelphia, Manny came back to the Philippines hoping to get himself a managerial post from his benefactor but Procter & Gamble turned down his application. Determined to get a job, he grabbed the first opportunity that came his way and that was as an executive assistant to the president at Phinma with a monthly salary of P1,000.

Wanting to emphasize his independence, Manny left Phinma after six years and decided to work abroad. He got in to Bancom International, a Philippine investment bank based in Hong Kong where he learned a lot about international finance from his Chinese colleagues. Then, he was backed up on a joint project with American Express. He expected to be appointed as CEO of the new bank but to his disappointment he did not get it. For two years, his efforts have been a failure so he decided to return Manila. At the age of 30, he got into what we call a mid-life crisis, but he was able to pull himself together and went back to Hong Kong and continued on with AMEX. After four years, he was able to prove his point to himself when he got a phone call from his boss in London and offered him to move forward on his career in London which he politely turned down.

New Chapter

In 1981, he founded the First Pacific in Hong Kong with the help of people he met while working in the region for some years that he was able to gain the trust of some who supported his idea on regional banking and trading business.

They started with only six people in a small office, but after all the series of failures they were able to get good grip with the leash and maneuver their way to a total success. By 2006, First Pacific has a whopping $5 billion and employs 60,000 work forces all over the region.

Make the change

After 22 years of working abroad, Manny came back to the Philippines determined to enforce the badly needed changes in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). After some unpopular decisions, he proved to all who did not believe in his move that they can indeed make the change. He also did the same with Piltel or Talk N’ Text. And from then on, every company which is attached to his name suddenly blooms as if they were touched with a magical hand.

Awards hoarded

Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) Award for International Finance in 1983, the Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award by the Office of the President of the Philippines in 1996, Best Chief Executive Officer in the Philippines by Institutional Investor in 2004, Chief Executive Officer of the Year (Philippines) by Biz News Asia in 2004, People of the Year by People Asia Magazine in 2004, Distinguished World Class Businessman Award by the Association of Makati Industries, Inc. in 2005, Management Man of the Year by the Management Association of the Philippines in 2005, and Order of Lakandula (Rank of a Komandante) by the Office of the President of the Philippines in 2006 are just some of the numerous prestigious awards received by MVP through the years.

With everything I have gathered from Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, I realized that it was not all about luck, he is what he is now because of his persistence. Yes, Persistence is MVP’s secret to success. And with that I can say that success is not exclusive for him, we too can achieve something if we would just set our mind on our goals.

Please stay tuned for more Filipino entrepreneur’s success stories that we will be featuring here on our blog.


Manuel Pangilinan: Executive Profile
Manny Pangilinan Wikipedia
Manny Pangilinan Speech to 2006 Ateneo Graduates
Manny Pangilinan Speech to 2010 Ateneo Graduates

Image source: |Author: Halil S. Mucaram


  1. says

    Thanks for the article. Hope that filipinos will have time to read this specially in the government where the word “Principle” is not on their vocabulary.

    I agree success doesn’t come the next day you have to really work hard for it.

  2. says

    So, what did he actually do or achieve other than move from one place to another. If there was anything here that says he did like what Lee Iacocca had done for Chrysler, then that would be impressive. Check the Phinma Group of Companies that had a division Trans-Asia Minerals, a mining outfit that never had a mine, only exploration. In all probability, that is what’s going to happen with Philex Mines.

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