Iconic SyCip dies at 96, business mourns Featured

Iconic SyCip dies at 96, business mourns

Washington Sycip (photo by Manny Llanes)

The SGV & Co. took to Facebook to officially announce their founder’s passing.

“With deep sadness, the partners, principals and staff of SGV & Co. announce the passing of SGV Founder Washington SyCip on the 7th of October 2017. Mr. SyCip went quietly while on a flight to Vancouver from Manila. He was 96 years old. The SyCip family requests for some private time at this moment. Information on memorial service to follow. Please pray for the eternal repose of is soul,” SGV said.

Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also took to Twitter to announce his mentor’s demise.

“Today we mourn the profound loss of a dear boss, friend, and mentor. I owe much of who I am to the privilege of having been under his wing. Washington SyCip was a towering pillar of the Philippine economy. For decades, he stood as an exemplar of excellence and integrity while shining the light of his sage guidance on our business community. Wash lived a very full and meaningful life. I will miss you,” Purisima said.

Insurance Commissioner Rufino H. Abad took to his Facebook stating that SyCip’s remains will remain in a New York hospital while documents are being prepared.

“He was a true statesman and served our country well!! Rest in our Lord’s peace Mr. SyCip,” Abad mourned.

Business leaders, especially the accounting and auditing industry, mourned SyCip’s passing.

Teresita Sy Coson, chair of SM Investments shared her thought: “With sadness, we regret to inform that Mr. Washington SyCip passed away last night on his way to New York. He has been a highly valued adviser to the Board of Directors of BDO Unibank. We will always remember him for his guidance over the years.“

The auditing industry, who looked up to SyCip as the epitome of the profession, deeply mourned Sycip’s passing.

Former Bureau of Internal Revenue Kim Henares said, ”With his demise, we lost one of the great minds ever produced by the Philippines.”

“The auditing industry has a lot to thank him as he pioneered and saw the growth of the industry not only in the Philippines but also in other parts of Asia. But more importantly, he trained and was a great influence to a lot of the captains of industries.”

Marivic Espano, managing partner and CEO of P & A Grant Thornton, called Mr. SyCip “one of the great pillars of the profession and played a key role in shaping it. He built a strong firm that is acknowledged as a good training ground for CPAs. He is leader who believes in the goodness and talent of Filipinos.”

Business advisory firm Bower Group Asia also tweeted “RIP Mr. Washington SyCip. This great patriot & leader of the Philippines, we learned so much from him.”

The book “Wash, Only a Bookkeeper,” a biography of Washington Z. SyCip by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. published on washingtonsycip.org said that Mr. Sycip was born in Manila on June 30, 1921 to Albino and Helen Bau. Albino Z. SyCip was born in the Philippines in 1887; like many other Chinese immigrants, Albino had come over Fujian province in the late 19th century. Both come from well-off, progressive families.

The young SyCip would go on to become one of the foremost practitioners of accounting in the Philippines and Asia, as well as a prime advocate of closer cooperation between the Philippines, the United States, Europe and Asia.

He passed the examination for Certified Public Accountants at age 18, but was too young to receive a professional license to practice. The middle child in a brood of five decided instead to take his PhD in the United States at Columbia University. SyCip was working on his doctoral dissertation when Pearl Harbor and Clark Air Base were bombed. He returned to Manila at the war’s end to be reunited with his family. Seeing great opportunities in the country’s postwar reconstruction, he set up his own accounting firm, W. SyCip & Co., in Binondo. As the business grew, SyCip with his longtime friend Alfredo M. Velayo, renamed the firm SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (SGV).

After retiring from SGV in 1996, he continued to be active in business and civic endeavors, and sits on the board of many Philippine and international companies and foundations. His advocacies include the improvement of public education, micro finance and entrepreneurship, and public health. He is relentless in his pursuit to help alleviate poverty. A staunch believer in Filipino talent, SyCip is also an avatar of economic freedom, according to the book.

SyCip has been honored and his works recognized by various prestigious organizations and award-giving bodies.

The most recent was with the Edmonds Award for International Understanding by the New York-based International House. A philanthropist, SyCip was also conferred The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for his contribution in promoting stronger business ties between the Philippines and Japan by the Japanese government.

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