The Story of Taipan Emilio Yap: Banker and Newspaperman

On this day, September 24 in the year 1925, one of the richest businessmen in the Philippines was born in Fujian Province, China. His name was Emilio T. Yap, the patriarch of the family that controls several big companies in the Philippines.

Emilio Yap
Emilio Yap (Credit:

Emilio Yap arrived in the Philippines prior to the outbreak of World War II. He settled in Negros Oriental, part of the Visayas Group of Islands in Central Philippines. He started working in a general merchandise store in Dumaguete City and later transferred to Manila after the war to work in a clothing factory. When he earned enough capital, he established his own trading company dealing with threads, watches and other surplus goods. Soon, he founded US Automotive Company and profited enormously in buying and selling surplus US vehicles such as military jeeps and trucks.

In 1960, Emilio Yap went into the shipping business. The following year, he invested in the Bulletin Today newspaper, one of the oldest and leading newspapers in the Philippines. In 1984, he was elected chairman of the company which was later renamed as Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation. Under his management, the company became publicly-listed in 1988. In the following years, he expanded his publishing empire by acquiring the Liwayway Publishing Company which publishes several magazines.

Emilio Yap diversified into banking after he acquired the Philtrust Bank in 1978. Later, US Automotive setup Euromed Laboratories, a pharmaceutical subsidiary that is now the largest producer of intravenous fluids in the Philippines. Then he entered hospitality industry by purchasing the Manila Prince Hotel. In 1995, he acquired the historic 5-star Manila Hotel in a controversial bidding by a government agency. He also acquired the Centro Escolar University, one of the biggest universities of the Philippines with three campuses.

Emilio Yap passed away in 2013 at the age of 88. At the time of his death, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $1.4 billion.


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