Ty, Dr. George, for the gift

By Tessa R. Salazar Philippine Daily Inquirer November 28,2018
THE YOUNG George Ty dreamt of opening a bank that would not only make money but give money away.

THE YOUNG George Ty dreamt of opening a bank that would not only make money but give money away.

I didn’t get the chance to talk to Dr. George SK Ty. I only knew of him through the words and works of those who directly interacted with him.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my editor asked me to write something about this titan of industries a few days after his passing.

But what could I write about the founder and group chair of the Metrobank Group of Companies and the chair of Toyota Motor Philippines that others with a more personal knowledge have, or what hasn’t been said or known?

I had to know about Dr. Ty and his life through the eyes and words of others. So I got in touch with Chito M. Sobrepeña, Metrobank Foundation president and Metrobank EVP.

Chito’s name has become closely associated with Dr. Ty largely due to the foundation’s philanthropic works.

Chito delivered Chairman Ty’s eulogy during the memorial service at the Heritage Memorial Park last Sunday night.

The last line of that eulogy was particularly moving: “I lift my tea cup to you, Mr. Group Chairman.

“Thank you for sharing your visions and enlisting me to work with you for the realization of your goals.

“Thank you for being a principled leader who has established integrity, hard work and corporate social responsibility as the core values of the Metrobank Group.

“Thank you, in behalf of all those you have helped, enabled and empowered towards better lives. Teachers, soldiers, police officers, artists, scholars, the marginalized and calamity victims.

“Thank you for the concern and the friendship you have given to me and my family all these 23 years. We are deeply grateful and we miss you already. Good night, Group Chairman Ty. I will see you in the morning.”

As expected, tributes flowed in from many sectors of society. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Nov. 26: “Mr. George Ty was a visionary and pillar of the Philippine economy. He started Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company … before he had reached the age of 30.”

The Department of Education (DepEd) released a statement, saying the institution “will always be grateful to Dr. Ty for his lifelong commitment to the advancement of education, culture and arts in the Philippines through various programs and initiatives spearheaded by Metrobank Foundation—one of the country’s most dynamic corporate philanthropic organizations.”

Among the foundation’s projects cited by DepEd were the search for the country’s outstanding teachers, police officers in service, soldiers, journalists, and the Metrobank-MTAP-DepEd Math Challenge “that has inspired thousands of Math teachers and students to excel and the National Teachers’ Month celebration.”

I have had the chance to interview Toyota Motor Corp president Akio Toyoda. I was able to talk to Dr. Ty’s son Alfred on several occasions, in his capacities as chair of Lexus Manila and vice chair of TMP and TMP’s School of Technology.

But I was never able to talk to Dr. Ty, the visionary who made it possible for the auto giant to make its big comeback in the Philippines.

This will now be that one item in my bucket list that will forever stay unticked.

At TMP’s 30th anniversary last Aug. 1, Toyoda fondly related his family’s relationship with Dr. Ty during the company’s formation. “Before the partnership with TMP, Toyota started our business here in 1961. Unfortunately, due to difficult circumstances, we had to cease our operations.

“It was indeed a very trying and sad experience for Toyota. But, we came back in 1988 to restart our business. We once left, but we are here now, and never again to stop our business. That is our promise to the Filipino people.

“My father, TMC’s honorary chairman, had a very strong passion to restart Toyota’s business here with Dr. George SK Ty. He flew here by himself to invite Dr. Ty to Toyota City. Dr. Ty agreed and accepted the offer. Together, they created history and made TMP what it is today.”

For everyone else whose lives he has touched, Dr. George Ty gave the greatest gift of all—the gift of desiring an education, and the desire to educate others as well.

I may not have talked to the man, but I see and feel his work at the TMP School of Technology, which he founded in 2013 with Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda, in Dr. Ty’s continuing work in pushing education literacy in the Philippines, and in his scholarship programs.

The TMP School of Technology was founded with the mission to create opportunities through technical education, to harness skills, and to help build a better future for the Filipinos.

With employment opportunities waiting for them at Toyota dealerships in the Philippines and abroad, the new Toyota technicians became part of the industry’s after-sales workforce, assuring its students that they would be competitive in both local and global fields.

Dr. Ty was about human development above all else. And I believe we will always see glimpses of Dr. Ty in everything and everyone he was involved in—in TMP’s corporate social responsibility projects, and in every employee in every company he established or helped set up.

And I am quite certain this will make his son Alfred’s job more challenging and inspiring at the same time.

As Toyoda said last Aug. 1: “Mr. Alfred Ty committed to lead the way to the future of mobility in the Philippines. Today, our rivals are companies like Apple, or Google or Amazon. What they have in common is the venture spirit to make the world an ever better place for all.”

“I am confident that Toyota’s passion is far greater than any competitors. But, we need like-minded partners, such as Dr. George SK Ty and my father and Mr. Alfred Ty and me.”

Dr. Ty may have passed on, but in his place, thousands more have taken up his cause. That is legendary. That is immortality.

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