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Forbes Magazine released last week its list of “The Philippines’ 40 Richest.”

The top 40 are worth a combined $17 billion, a billion dollars more than last year. For the first time in a decade, a Filipino broke into the billionaire ranks. The son of a poor immigrant factory worker, Andrew Tan restructured his holding company, Alliance Global, and as a result, his net worth jumped to $1.1 billion from $480 million last year.

Manuel Villar, the Philippine senate president, is the year’s biggest gainer. From $110 million last year, his net worth shoot up 755% to $940 million after the public offering of his company Vista Land & Lifescapes.

Seven other tycoons including Tony Tan Caktiong and Enrique Razon Jr. saw their fortunes jump by at least $100 million. Fifteen others are wealthier than last year.

A glimpse of the four (4) billionaire Filipinos:

Jaime Zobel de Ayala

1. Jaime Zobel de Ayala & family

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Networth: $2 billion
Age: 73
Marital Status: Married, 7 children

Patriarch of country’s largest conglomerate, Ayala Corp. Family referred to as the Filipino royal family. Stepped down as chairman last year. Personally holds no shares; wealth now in children’s hands. Eldest son, Jaime II, Ayala’s chairman, chief executive.

Henry Sy

2. Henry Sy & family

Networth: $1.7 billion
Age: 82
Marital Status: Married, 6 children

Completed merger of his Banco de Oro with competitor Equitable PCI in May, forming nation’s second-largest bank. His SM Prime Holdings is nation’s largest shopping mall developer. Shares fortune, which includes stakes in a dozen companies, with his children.

Lucio Tan

3. Lucio Tan & family

Networth: $1.6 billion
Age: 73
Marital Status: Married, 6 children

Former chemical engineer from China mopped floors to pay for school. With family, owns Fortune Tobacco, nation’s largest cigarette maker; Philippines Airlines, which just emerged from 9 years in receivership. Being sued on claims that much of his wealth belongs to late president Ferdinand Marcos’ estate.

Andrew Tan

4. Andrew Tan

Networth: $1.1 billion
Age: 55
Marital Status: Married, 4 children

Big boost to fortune from restructuring holding company Alliance Global; shares of his property company, Megaworld, also higher. Likes to eat breakfast at McDonald’s (his group owns stake in country’s franchise) and sip his Emperador brandy, world’s largest seller by volume. Son of factory worker walked to college campus — couldn’t afford bus fare.

Manuel Villar, George Ty, Andrew Gotianun, Enrique Razon, Tony Tan Caktiong, and Oscar Lopez complete the rest of the 10 Richest Filipinos.

Manny Villar

5. Manuel Villar

Networth: $940 million
Age: 57
Marital Status: Married, 3 children

Philippine senate president (and possible 2010 presidential candidate) also largest shareholder in real estate firm Vista Land. Shrimp vendor’s son grew up in slum, got start in construction.

Andrew Tan

6. George Ty

Networth: $870 million
Age: 74
Marital Status: Married, 5 children

Metrobank founder passed on chairmanship to eldest son, Arthur, last year. Family’s Toyota Motor Philippines supplies nearly half country’s new cars and trucks. Teaming up with John Gokongwei (15) to develop luxury condos in Metro Manila’s Mandaluyong City.

Andrew Gotianun

7. Andrew Gotianun

Networth: $860 million
Age: 79
Marital Status: Married, 2 children

Started out salvaging ships after World War II. Branched into car financing with help of wife, Mercedes. Main companies are public real estate firms, Filinvest Development, Filinvest Land; also privately held East West Bank. Going into biofuels; bought 2 sugar mills and a plantation in June in a deal worth $215 million. Children Jonathan and Josephine run daily operations; Gotianun chairman emeritus.

Enrique Razon Jr.

8. Enrique Razon

Networth: $820 million
Age: 47
Marital Status: Married, 2 children

Chairs International Container Terminal Services, which buys, develops, manages container ports and terminals worldwide. Has operations in 9 countries including the Philippines, China, Ecuador. Enjoys golf, helped save Philippine Open this year from near cancelation.

Tony Tan Caktiong

9. Tony Tan Caktiong & family

Networth: $790 million
Age: 57
Marital Status: Married, 3 children

Fast-food king heads Jollibee, now with more than 1,500 locations and 7 brands. Bought out partner in Shanghai fast-food chain Yonghe King, acquired Chinese restaurant chain Hongzhuangyuan for $50 million in September, opened store in Las Vegas.

Oscar Lopez

10. Oscar Lopez & family

Networth: $775 million
Age: 77
Marital Status: Married, 8 children

Scion of one of Philippines’ best-known family businesses. Harvard grad heads its Lopez Inc., which has controlling stake in media group ABS-CBN Broadcasting, run by his nephew. Family who shares fortune also has interests in construction, power generation.

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