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“I am honored to have a close encounter with Henry Sy, and worked under Tess Sy-Coson and Hans Sy (his daughter and son respectively) to know them enough and understand their philosophy”


View of MOA from the foot bridge, taken by Sonnie Santos using Lumia 920

View of MOA from the footbridge, taken by Sonnie Santos using Lumia 920


Dream… it’s free… anyone can dream… but only a few can make their dreams a reality, like Henry Sy.

On May 20th 2006, I witnessed the fulfillment of one of the dreams of a visionary, Mr. Henry Sy Sr. Tagged as one of the richest man in the world and shopping mall magnate in the Philippines.

Read: 14 Life Work Principles of Henry Sy

Sonnie Santos with Herny Sy. Sr

Sonnie Santos w/ Henry Sy Sr., in one of the openings of a new mall

‘Twas the soft opening of Mall of Asia, the dream of  a poor chinese boy who moved to the Philippines when he was 13, hoping for better life. His hope was rocked by the onset of world war 2. But this did not affect him from pursuing his dream.

Henry Sy Sr. believed there is an opportunity for every tragedy— thus, it became one of the keys to his success.

  • After the war, Henry Sy Sr  started selling shoes along the streets of Azcarraga (CM Recto) and soon he got an opportunity to have a shoe store along Avenida Rizal in 1958.
  • The Shoe Store expanded and have several outlets and became a soft goods Department Store in 1972, the year martial law was declared. 3 years after, it became a full line dept. store– made known as SM ShoeMart, We’ve Got It All For You!
  • In the 80’s, when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, and the PH at that time was rocked by political and economic crisis, Henry Sy Sr.  ventured into another unknown and spearheaded the “malling phenomenon” — The birth of the first SM Mall (though not the first mall in the Philippines), SM City North EDSA. Taunted and predicted to fail, SM City became and still one of the strongest SM Mall in terms of foot traffic and revenues.
  • Several years after, when the Philippines is again in the midst of another crisis brought by high fuel prices and political problems, Henry Sy Sr. opened Mall of Asia. Undaunted by negative publicity, it was inaugurated on May 20, 2006 and opens its doors to the public on May 21, 2006.

Mall Of Asia, being the 25th SM SuperMall is envisioned to be a tourist destination as it boasts of showcasing the Philippines best with its world class facilities and products. The Mall of Asia is home to some 1st’s in the Philippines–

Read: 10 Secrets of Henry Sy’s Success

  1. The first “Olympic size” Ice Skating Rink.
  2. The first IMAX Theatre in the Philippines but holds the distinction of having the largest screen (8 story high) in the world.
  3. The first Mall overlooking the famous Manila Bay sunset.
  4. The first Mall equipped with golf cars, Jeeps and trolleys to help customers move around the mall.

From the press releases I read, soon construction will also start for the trade and convention center that will rival PICC, (SMX Convention Center is up and running),  a sports arena that will rival Araneta Coliseum, (the Arena is up and running), a state of the art planetarium, hotels and residential condo will also be built  on-going construction.

Shot of MOA Arena (right side) taken by Sonnie Santos using Lumia 920

Shot of MOA Arena (right side) taken by Sonnie Santos using Lumia 920

Shot of MOA Arena (right side) taken by Sonnie Santos using Lumia 920

Night shot of SMX Convention Center by Sonnie Santos using Lumia 920


With the soft opening and inauguration,

No less than the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapacal-Arroyo, graced the ceremonial ribbon cutting. She was later wowed by the IMAX experience.

The other dignitaries who graced the occasion came from the business community, foreign embassy representatives, local and national leaders.

I am privileged to see in action Filipino IceSakaters, who brought glory to the nation by winning in international competition, beating western countries though we are a tropical nation.

I can’t find a word yet that bests describe the IMAX experience. It’s best if you’ll try it yourself. Entrance fees depends on the film, the lowest is P 150 ( less than USD 3) and max is P 250 (less than USD 5).

The architecture and design is elegant and non traditional
. I find SM Aura more elegant now.

The life of  Henry Sy Sr. and his family is a story of success brought by hard work, smart spending, persistence, determination and courage. While all people have dreamed, not all have made it a reality. I believe we can also make our dreams a reality too.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)



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