The Philippines’ richest man leaves behind a ‘nation of homeowners’

Posthumous win for mall magnate Henry Sy Sr. culminates over a half-century refining the retail experience and promoting home ownership for Filipinos

SMDC’s Park Residences won Best Condo Development (Greater Manila) at the 2019 PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards

The name Henry Sy Sr. is an oft-shared story of upward mobility in the Philippines. With 10 centavos and a dream, as legend would have it, Sy turned a humble surplus shoe store in post-war Manila into a chain of shopping malls spanning both the Philippines and China—including three of the world’s 10 largest.

Along with his heirs, the Xiamen-born founder of SM Group, who passed in January with a net worth of USD19 billion, was named Real Estate Personality of the Year at the PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards on 5 July at Fairmont Makati.

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“He started small, like most of our small and medium enterprises. He revolutionised the malling business in the country, offering a unique shopping experience to many Filipinos,” said Henry’s grandson, Hans Sy Jr., president of SM Engineering Design and Development Corp (SMEDD), upon accepting the award on his family’s behalf.

SMEDD President Hans Sy Jr. accepting the Real Estate Personality of the Year award on behalf of his grandfather

From opening that shoe store in 1958, Hans’ ‘Tatang’ (lit. father or grandfather) slowly built the company’s property portfolio to integrate residential, commercial, and hotel developments under SM Prime Holdings, which went on to win Best Developer at the 2015 awards.

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The conglomerate’s residential property development wing, SM Development Corp. (SMDC), garnered the biggest haul at this year’s awards. With six wins and 14 Highly Commended citations, SMDC fully fledges the elder Sy’s dream of helping Filipinos across all income segments own a home.

SMDC’s winning projects this year include the fifth and sixth buildings of its mid-range condo development, Field Residences, and the affordable low-rise condo project Trees Residences.

SMDC project Shore Residences was Highly Commended for the High End Condo Development (Metro Manila) category at the PropertyGuru Philippines Property Awards

The company also won the Best Condo Development in the Greater Manila category for its Park Residences in the city of Santa Rosa. “Holistically designed to inspire a sense of space, relaxation and quality leisure time, Park Residences features high-end hotel interiors and resort-style lifestyle features such as walking trails and a mediation lawn,” the awarding judges noted.

In addition to its 79 malls in the Philippines, SM Group operates around 1.5 million square metres in malls across mainland China. They include the 560,000-square-metre SM City Tianjin, one of the world’s largest shopping centres.

“This proves that through hard work, trustworthiness, discipline, and commitment to service, everything is possible—and Tatang made his dream possible,” said Hans in his speech.