Three Filipinos—boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, pawnshop magnate Philippe J. Lhuillier and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Diosdado Banatao—have made it to the list of Asia’s “Heroes of Philanthropy” for 2015 by Forbes Asia magazine.
The three are featured along with 37 others in the magazine’s ninth annual philanthropy issue that singles out Asia-Pacific’s most noteworthy givers, “who made news with their donations in the past year” and “who have compiled a long record of supporting worthy causes.”
“As with every year, some of our honorees are billionaires who have built wealthy foundations, launched big projects and are now coming to terms with their legacy,” Forbes Asia staff member John Koppisch said in an Aug. 27 piece on the Forbes website.
But others on the list are “less well-known business people who are also making a mark with their generosity,” Koppisch said, noting that a philanthropist from impoverished Nepal has made the list for the first time.
“And some are celebrities—this time we have a basketball star and a boxer—who use their star power to promote their causes,” he said, referring to Pacquiao of the Philippines and former National Basketball Association star Yao Ming of China.
The philanthropists on the 2015 list come from 13 countries in the region, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The full list is in the September issue of Forbes Asia, now on newsstands.
Pacquiao, a member of the House of Representatives from Sarangani province, was cited for starting Heart Foundation with his wife, Jinkee, in 2014.
The charity has awarded more than 200 scholarships and extended more than $400,000 in medical assistance to needy people, according to the magazine.
“Outside the foundation, he spends $400,000 a year on college costs for 1,000 students and has helped fund the construction of hundreds of houses—mostly in the southern end of the country, where he is from—with Habitat for Humanity Philippines,” Forbes Asia said of Pacquiao.
The 36-year-old boxer, who is also a part-time actor, singer and basketball coach, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief funds after devastating typhoons in the last three years, the magazine added.
Son of farmer
Banatao, the founder and managing partner of Tallwood Venture Capital, was recognized for his work with his charity.
“The technology entrepreneur and son of a farmer set up his Philippine Development Foundation in 2010 and has given it more than $1.5 million to reduce poverty through education, innovation and entrepreneurship,” Forbes Asia said.
The magazine also commended Banatao, 69, for the family-run Salvador and Rosita Banatao Foundation, an organization that helps students in his hometown of Iguig in Cagayan province.
The foundation “has helped build a science and computer center at his elementary school and provides financial aid and scholarships to high school and university students with potential in science,” the magazine said.
Banatao, a computer engineer, is one of the first Filipinos to hit it big in Silicon Valley. He pioneered designs and founded companies that built or developed many of the components in the modern personal computer.
He is credited with the development of the world’s first single-chip, 16-bit microprocessor-based calculator; the first 10-Mbit Ethernet CMOS media access controller (MAC) and physical layer chip; the first system logic chip set for the PC-XT and the PC-AT; the local bus concept and the first Windows Graphics accelerator chip for PCs.
The 70-year-old Lhuillier, chair of the P.J. Lhuillier Group, was cited by Forbes Asia for starting what is now known as the Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation in 2000.
“It offers 300 college scholarships to impoverished students nationwide and has enabled thousands of school dropouts to restart their education through 19 Alternative Learning Centers that it’s started in public schools; 48 more will open next year,” Forbes Asia said.
The magazine also recognized Lhuillier’s aim of inspiring millions of people when he launched the “Search for the Happiest Pinoy” campaign.
“Every other year starting in 2009 it has awarded $20,000 to individuals who have risen above life’s challenges and whose positive outlook has improved the lives of others,” Forbes Asia said.
Lhuillier is the son of the late Henry Lhuillier, who served as a French consul to the Philippines and established pawnshops in Cebu in the 1930s. He diversified the family business and embarked on other ventures, and formed P.J. Lhuillier Inc. in 1988.
The Lhuillier group now has under its fold companies engaged in gemology, financial and insurance services, property and resort management, travel and leisure, and communication and information technology. But Cebuana Lhuillier remains its flagship brand.
Not the biggest givers
Koppisch said the 40 philanthropists on the list were not necessarily those who gave the most donations to charity.
“This isn’t a list of the biggest givers in Asia-Pacific—the figures would be impossible to collect,” he said.
“And we try to identify a new group each year, though a few people here are returning to the list because of an important contribution or project announced over the past year,” he said.
The goal, Koppisch said, “is to pick only true philanthropists—people who are giving their own money, not their company’s (unless they own most of the company), because donating shareholder funds isn’t exactly philanthropy.”
“By calling attention to these charitable souls and their labors of love, we hope to encourage more giving,” he said.–With Inquirer Research