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The first time that Lucio "Bong" Tan Jr. met half-brother Michael Tan was at the Manila International Airport as the two boys were being shuffled off by their dad to the safety of Singapore in the aftermath of the sensational August 20, 1981 kidnapping of Robina Gokongwei.
According to family folklore, it was a crude rite of passage for the 14-year-old boy not only to learn that the father that he idolizes has a second family, but that his half-brother is even older than him by a few months.
While in Singapore, the two Tan boys lived in the same flat, with Bong's elder sister, Irene, playing the de facto guardian.
There, for better or for worse, the two half-brothers fought, made peace, chased the same girls and even went to class together everyday in the family car, to Dunham High School, where taipan John Gokongwei's son, Lance, was also bundled off because of the kidnapping scare that swept Manila in those parlous times.
And if the family grapevine is again to be believed, the relations between Bong and Michael had reached such tolerance that Michael's mother, Letty, not only visited a number of times but even stayed with the boys in the same flat, just like one extended Chinese family.
If that were not enough, the half-brothers, after Singapore, had two more years together, this time in Beijing, living in a campus dormitory while learning Mandarin.
The shared, admittedly forced-upon camaraderie between the two boys was in contrast with Bong's younger sister, Vivienne, who until her recent departure from Philippine Airlines was said to have pursued a slash-and-burn strategy against the other half-siblings and their favored suppliers.
Apparently Vivienne to this day has not forgotten the loss-of-face she had to endure when she found herself at the Philippine Institute of Quezon City, the neighborhood school that her father bought, lumped along with half-siblings Cherry, Sharon, John and Timmy.
Despite Michael's pleading that he is "just a manager working for the family," the July 31 decision to place the bulk of his father's assets under the publicly-listed Tanduay Holdings, where Michael happens to be the president, puts him no doubt steps closer than any of his siblings to being the heir apparent of the 77-year-old taipan.
Bong, on the other hand, seems to have accepted the cards that he has been dwelt with. Thursday afternoon, the taipan's namesake son was espied meeting with his accountants at the UCC Cafe in Rockwell, sorting out some tax concerns. Last week, when trading at Tanduay shares was jolted from its P4-level, Bong was supposed to be at the golf course, improving his handicap.
If there is someone who needs to be consoled most, it is Carmen, the taipan's first wife. First, the family loses operational control of Philippine Airlines to San Miguel's Ramon Ang, then favorite Vivienne is ejected from PAL while her two half-sisters remain, and now this.
To placate the taipan's extended family, Ang was supposed to have quietly promised that the remaining half-siblings and any other Tan relatives would be gone from the flag carrier by Christmas.
On the Tan side, to allays fears from his own extended family that Ang could end up swallowing the empire in the same way that Ang had ended up controlling the San Miguel conglomerate, the taipan had to slip in a "no-compete" amendment in the Tanduay Holdings.
To prevent barbarians from slipping into the gate, Tanduay Holdings on Sept. 18 will ratify a new provision disqualifying "business competitors from becoming directors/s and/or officers in the corporation."
But, then again, Ang already is a director and officer of the LT Group.
Speaking of Tanduay, someone needs to take a crash course in record-keeping and stock exchange rules.
While Tanduay Holdings corporate secretary Ma. Cecilia Pesayco tells the Philippine Stock Exchange in an August 1 letter that "there was nothing that we did not disclose to the PSE" that led to the share price of Tanduay spiking from P5.10 to P7.65 a share earlier that day, who comes disclosing another story but Tanduay parent company, Tangent Holdings.
Tangent Holdings corporate secretary Helen Fernandez on the following date reported that Tangent on July 25 acquired 76,466,713 shares of Tanduay Holdings at P4.50 a share.
The problem with this disclosure is that only 4.24 million shares of Tanduay were traded on that date. Even on August 1, the questioned date, volume only reached 38.8 million.
By Thursday, August 2, even as the price had spiked to P11.46 at closing, Tanduay's full-day trading volume was still a far cry at 56 million.
Email Vic Agustin at firstname.lastname@example.org.