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John Gokongwei

John Gojongwei, Jr

At 13, Gokongwei, started small-scale trading to support his family. He lived by his wits through the war. In 1957, he started a corn-milling operation, taking a punt that the unglamorous product would be in great demand from better-known business such as paper and pharmaceuticals. The gamble paid off, and he worked to diversify the business.  Gokongwei, 87, oversees a conglomerate which now includes airlines, telecoms and banking.