By ROY C. MABASA
Fresh from the conferment of France’s highest civilian honor on self-made ultra bilyonaryo Ramon S. Ang, the venerable president and CEO of San Miguel Corp. reiterated his commitment to make Filipino lives better.
Ang said his team “remained committed to dedicating our resources to building back better, through initiatives that will help boost our economic growth and improve the lives of many of our countrymen.”
“We also believe that pursuing sustainability is essential to achieving this. While we continue to do our part, we know we cannot do it alone. A successful development agenda requires collaboration across borders and among governments, businesses and civil society—one that is built upon our shared goals for both our people and our environment, “Ang added.
As the top honcho of SMC, Ang made it his mission to help small businesses grow. He raised funds for various charities and promoted exports from the Philippines.
Ang also made it a priority to support France’s ties with the Philippines, advancing shared economic goals.
The Legion of Honor award was given to him by the French government in recognition of his role in strengthening relations between the Philippines and France and for helping them realize their shared economic objectives.
French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz conferred the award to Ang in a ceremony held at her residence in Makati City last week. The event marked the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The Legion of Honor is the most prestigious distinction given by France to distinguished individuals for their eminent service, among them French military personnel and civilians who have rendered exemplary service to France.
Ang joins a handful of Filipino luminaries who received the award, among them past Philippine presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Elpidio Quirino, Corazon Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos.
“All of you here witnessing this ceremony today are well acquainted with Ramon Ang’s prestigious career and how under his leadership, San Miguel Corporation grew within a decade to become the Philippines’ top group in terms of market capitalization. As a businessman, sir, you highly contributed to the development of business partnership between our two countries,” Boccoz said.
In honoring Ang, the French top diplomat in Manila narrated a litany of Ang’s invaluable contributions to the relations citing the SMC boss’ efforts that led to the delivery of French humanitarian aid to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013.
As then president and COO of Philippine Airlines (PAL), he enabled the transport of aid from France to the Philippines and even instructed the flag carrier to fly rescue workers and aid for free. It was during the same period when PAL was also taking delivery of a brand new Airbus jet from Tolousse, France.
Through Ang, the French government was able to fill the new Airbus aircraft with food aid and medicines, as well as transport French doctors and first-responders to help with the relief and recovery effort.
Boccoz also credited Ang for his “decisive role” in the establishment of a long-term partnership between Airbus and PAL when it initiated a fleet renewal program under Ang.
As part of SMC’s aggressive efforts to improve the lives of Filipinos, boost the economy, and help in nation-building, the French envoy noted that the eminent Filipino businessman continued to bring French expertise to his company’s key infrastructure projects in the Philippines.
SMC and Ang selected the Aeroport de Paris Group as one of its consultants in the development of the New Manila International Airport (NMIA) Bulacan, touted to be the largest and most modern international gateway in the Philippines.
Ang’s conglomerate has likewise tapped French firm Matiere for its various infrastructure initiatives aimed at decongesting Metro Manila.
In accepting the Legion of Honor, Ang said he was sharing the award with his colleagues in SMC to serve as an inspiration for them “to work even harder to deliver a better future for all and uphold the common values that they stand for and live by.”
In 2020, Ang was honored with the Lifetime Contributor Award at the Asia CEO Awards for his role in raising nearly P14 billion from SMC employees to help medical professionals and vulnerable populations during the pandemic. Employees from SMC provided crucial COVID-19 testing equipment, medical supplies, food aid, and other forms of assistance.