JUST two weeks after taking the helm at PAL Holdings Inc., Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr., died on Monday morning at the age of 53, a statement from the airline said.
Bong, the son and namesake of taipan Lucio C. Tan, had been confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center on Saturday, where he was rushed after collapsing at a basketball game. He was 53.
“His untimely passing leaves a big void in our hearts and our Group’s management team which would be very hard to fill,” his sister Vivienne K. Tan said of her brother’s death, which shocked the business community as he had been a sportsman since his early teens and is known as a very healthy and fit man.
“Bong was a son, husband, father, friend and, most importantly, our elder brother whom we all relied on for advice, counsel and leadership,” Vivienne said.
He was appointed to lead PAL Holdings as president and COO on October 28, replacing Gilbert Sta. Maria. The latter remained as the president of Philippine Airlines Inc., but stepped down from his post as chief of PAL Holdings Inc.
He resigned due to “personal reasons,” according to a disclosure to the stock exchange then. Bong Tan’s sister, Vivienne, is head of audit at PAL.
Bong is survived by his wife Julie and sons Lucio Tan III and Kyle Tan.
“Our sincerest thanks to all who offered prayers and shared words of comfort during this hour of grief,” Vivienne said. “We ask for your prayers for the eternal repose of his soul. Wake details will be announced soon.”
Bong Tan’s death is the second in two days among the Philippines’s taipan circle. His father Lucio Tan’s contemporary among the taipans, industrialist John Gokongwei Jr., died late Saturday night at the age of 93.
Asked about Bong Tan’s cause of death, PAL Spokesman Cielo Villaluna said “The family doesnt feel it is necessary to reveal cause of death.”
She said, “at the moment, they wish to focus on spending time with Bong.”
Malacañang on Monday issued a statement recalling Bong Tan’s commendable qualities both in his personal and professional life.
“I know personally Bong Tan, he impressed me as a very humble person with a serious mien and always ready to smile to the people he meets, and he was a good brother to all his siblings, a dutiful son and an efficient corporate man,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said during a media briefing.
Prior to his appointment as president and COO of PAL Holdings, Bong Tan Jr. served as the director of the LT Group Inc. and held various posts in its other subsidiaries.
With reports from Samuel Medenilla, Recto L. Mercene