Legacy of the father: The successful Tan brothers

SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez


The Tan brothers (standing from left) Nestor, Raul and Lorenzo with parents Erlinda and Rufino.

“My greatest accomplishment, and my greatest pride and joy are my children. They truly are my greatest success.” These words of Catherine Pulsifer – one of the authors of Inspirational Words of Wisdom – might just as well be the words of  lawyer Rufino “Pinong” Tan – the proud father of accomplished brothers Lorenzo, Nestor and Raul.

Currently a governor of the Philippine Constitution Association of the Philippines (Philconsa), the Gapan, Nueva Ecija-born Pinong obtained his accounting and law degrees from the University of the East, whose law alumni association elevated him to the Hall of Fame during the College of Law’s 50th anniversary and also honored him with an Achievement Award in the field of higher education.

Not many know that the 88-year-old Tan was one of the founders of the Philippine School of Business Administration – a well-known accounting school –  and that when he was 84, he started the Asian School of Business and Technology which was eventually acquired by the College of St. Benilde-De La Salle University.

The 59-year-old Nestor, Pinong’s eldest son, obtained his Commerce degree at DLSU and finished his MBA in Finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Nestor concurrently holds vice chairmanships/directorships at several BDO Unibank subsidiaries and also holds the position of director at Generali Pilipinas Life Assurance, SM Keppel Land and the Asian School of Business and Technology. In March 2016, he was elected president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

The second of the Tan brothers is Raul, who briefly worked with the operations research “dream team” at San Miguel Corporation before deciding to pursue his Masters in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University as a General Motors scholar. Dubbed as “the scientist’ in the family with four US patents under his name, the 57-year-old Raul has been working in Silicon Valley for three decades and is now head for product development at KLA Tencor (a leading global company of process control and yield management solutions for the semi conductor industry), the company that acquired Therma-Wave Inc. where Raul served as vice president.

At 54, Lorenzo is the youngest of the Tan siblings, who was only 37 when he became the youngest president of a universal bank in the Philippines. He is known in the industry as a “turnaround specialist” for his uncanny ability to turn troubled financial institutions into profitable businesses and improving the economic prospects of any corporation that he heads.

Just like his older brothers, DLSU is also Lorenzo’s alma mater, but he was closest to Nestor because of the similarities in their background. He finished Accounting at DLSU and holds a Master of Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Both Nestor and Lorenzo are certified US and Philippine CPAs – a fact that makes their father very proud since lawyer Pinong was also an accountant who put up the accounting firm RR Tan and Associates.


Lorenzo Tan

Lorenzo also became president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, worked as president and CEO of Sun Life of Canada (Phils.) and was formerly president of the Philippine National Bank, the United Coconut Planters Bank and the Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.

Lorenzo worked hard to develop his reputation in the banking industry as a trustworthy individual who is always professional in his dealings. It was, therefore, very unfortunate that his name was dragged in a cyber heist a year ago, but what was really more painful was the betrayal by trusted friends who put him on the burner – despite being the one who recommended the people who were implicated in the scandal.

But as they say, you can never put a good man down, because Lorenzo has since moved on without any bitterness over the betrayal whatsoever, joining leading private equity firm Primeiro Partners. According to managing partner Steven Sieh, Tan’s decision to join Primeiro is “a profound step forward” for the firm as “there is no better industry leader and advisor more respected” than Lorenzo Tan, who “epitomizes the values of achievement, integrity and wisdom.”

Obviously, the Tan brothers have imbibed the values of education, excellence and integrity that their parents have inculcated in them. Their mother,  Erlinda Villanueva, was an achiever  and class valedictorian in elementary and high school. She finished BS Chemistry (summa cum laude) from UST and was an educator in the same institution for over two decades. Fondly called Ellen by friends, Professor Tan passed away last month and judging from the hundreds of flowers during her wake, it was evident she was well loved and respected by many people. 

Now 88, Pinong is putting up another school in Cavite as a legacy to his grandchildren, and to impress upon them the same value of excellence that he and his late wife inculcated in their sons Nestor, Raul and Lorenzo.

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Email: spybits08@gmail.coms

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