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There are a few perks to being the chair emeritus of an organization. Since the position is mainly honorary and is awarded due to the person’s worthy contributions, there’s minimal work involved because it’s really the president/CEO who calls the shots.
The chair emeritus normally provides guidance, advice, and mentors the younger generation of leaders. He or she also gets invited to important ceremonial gatherings, especially when VIPs are expected to attend.
For Filipino billionaire James Go, 83, chair emeritus of the Gokongwei Group’s Universal Robina Corporation, Robinsons Land Corporation, and JG Summit Olefins Corporation, there’s one perk in being chair emeritus that he treasures: he gets to wear comfortable rubber shoes, regardless of whether it’s a formal or informal event.
During the inauguration of JG Summit Olefins Corporation’s expanded petrochemical manufacturing facility in Batangas City last January 19, Go was wearing sneakers in the event, the lone VIP to do so among the most prominent VIPs, as this photo (below) from JG Summit president/CEO Lance Gokongwei’s Facebook shows.
A week later, or on January 26, in the “Setting of the Cornerstone” evening event for the Gokongweis’ ambitious “The Jewel” property project on EDSA corner Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City, where the dress code was “black tie” and where most guests were wearing formal, Go was wearing a Barong Tagalog, accented by red, blue, and yellow embroidery, along with his favorite footwear – sneakers, as this photo taken by Rappler shows. The other VIPs in the event would probably have loved to be in Go’s shoes!
His sneakers aren’t even the more popular ones in the Philippines like Nike, Adidas, Converse, or Under Armour.
His favorite appears to be the lesser-known and less expensive US brand, New Balance, which is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Affinity could be the reason for this. Go is one of the few Filipinos with a Bachelor of Science and masters degree in chemical engineering from one of the best technological schools in the world, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT, which reportedly has an acceptance rate of only 4%.
The New Balance logo is also apparent in this JG Summit photo of the launch of the Gokongwei Group’s master brand on August 24, 2022, which also marked the 30th anniversary of the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation (GBF), one of the biggest donors to scholarships in the country.
Go was wearing neon green and black New Balance sneakers. Note that retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban was also in comfortable sneakers.
Go’s brother, the late industrialist John Gokongwei Jr., also liked sneakers and sometimes wore rubber shoes in ceremonial events with VIPs, as this old photo (below) during the launch of the John Gokongwei Innovation Center at the DLSU Laguna Campus back in January 2019 shows.
In the Philippines, shoes are more associated with another rich Filipino family, the Sys, not the Gokongweis. The late patriarch Henry Sy ventured into the business of selling surplus boots after World War 2, and opened the first Shoe Mart store in 1958 along Carriedo in Manila. The Sys and the Gokongweis, however, compete strongly in the retail business of shoes and other clothing via their malls.
Aside from petrochemicals and real estate, the JG Summit conglomerate, one of the Philippines’ biggest employers with over 70,000 personnel combined, also includes Cebu Air Incorporated, Luzon International Premier Airport Development, among others. It also has minority stakes in power distributor Manila Electric Company and telecommunications giant PLDT Incorporated. – Rappler.com
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