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Many of the richest in the world—including our own tycoons and moguls—increased in wealth over the pandemic, according to Forbes.

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It seems that the past year has been quite good for former Senate president Manny Villar. In Forbes’ annual list of billionaires in the world, the real estate magnate was tied for 352nd place, more than 200 spots from his 2020 ranking. According to Forbes, his wealth grew from $5.6 billion in 2020 to $7.2 billion this year.

Real-estate mogul

Villar began building his fortunes in the mid 1970s, starting as a business that delivered sand and gravel to Las Piñas-based construction companies. This eventually led him to developing mass housing projects that utilized the economies of scale to offer attracting prices. Today, he is the chairman of Vista Mall and Vista Land and Landscapes, and his businesses extends to stores such as The Coffee Project, All Home, and All Day.

Five other billionaires share the former Senate President’s current ranking: Rocco B. Commisso, the founder of US-based cable television company Mediacom; Bernie Marcus, who co-founded Home Depot; Michael Kadoorie, the chairman of Hong Kong’s largest electricity producer; Christy Walton, Walmart heiress; and Wang Zhenghua, who founded the Chinese low-cost carrier Spring Airlines.

In Forbes’ list of Philippine billionaires last year, Villar placed second to the children of Chinese Filipino tycoon Henry Sy Sr., who passed away two years ago.

Growing wealth

The next Philippine billionaire on Forbes’ 2021 list, Spanish-Filipino Enrique Razon Jr., is almost 200 spots away at 561st place. He chairs the country’s top terminal operator International Container Services, which was founded in 1916. His wealth also grew in the past year, from $3.4 billion to $5 billion.

Lucio Tan, whose diversified business interests grew from $1.7 billion to $3.3 billion this year, is third among Filipinos. He is tied for 925th place with 30 other billionaires, including Boston Beer Company co-founder Jim Koch, Chinese technocrat Qi Xiangdong, film producer Gigi Pritzker, and H&M heiress Lottie Tham.

The rest of the Pinoy billionaires on the list are Harley Sy, Henry Sy Jr., and Teresita Sy-Coson (with $2.7 billion each and tied with others at 1,174th place); Elizabeth Sy and Tony Tan Caktiong (with $2.4 billion each and tied with others at 1,200th place); and Ramon Ang (with $2.2 billion and tied for 1,444th place).

Pandemic gains

Basing from Forbes’s list year-to-year, it seems that many of the ultra-rich keep getting richer. Despite the challenges of the past year, more billionaires were added to Forbes’ rankings and many of the list regulars saw increases in wealth. According to a USA today article, billionaires added more than a half a trillion in their overall riches.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for example, not only retained the top spot globally, his wealth increased by $64 billion by Forbes’ estimation. Before the 57-year-old stepped down from his position as CEO of the online marketplace platform he built from his garage, Bloomberg listed his worth at $188 billion.  

Most in the top 200 registered wealth gains, including those in the top five: Tesla’s Elon Musk, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s Bernard Arnault and family, Microsofts Bill Gates, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

This is the 35th edition of the list by the American business magazine. This year, the list grew to 2,755 names, which is 660 more than 2020. This included 210 new billionaires from China and Hong Kong. All in all, the ultra-rich in Forbes’ ranking amount to $13.1 trillion.

Banner Photo by David Suarez on Unsplash

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