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Ricardo Po Sr., founder of Century Pacific Food, dies at 90

October 12, 2021 | 12:19pm

Ricardo Po Sr, founder and chairman emeritus of Century Pacific Food Inc., will be remembered as a self-made entrepreneur who built one of the most recognizable food brands in the Philippines.

Century Pacific / Released

MANILA, Philippines (Update 1, 1:10 p.m) — Ricardo Po Sr. — founder and chairman emeritus of Century Pacific Food Inc., the company behind the hugely popular Century Tuna brand — has passed away. He was 90.

According to a statement from the family on Tuesday, Po died on Monday owing to complications arising from surgery.

Po will be remembered as a self-made entrepreneur who built one of the most recognizable food brands in the Philippines. He ranked 16th in Forbes’ 2021 list of 50 wealthiest Filipinos with a net worth of $1.45 billion.

“Mr. Po was cherished by his employees and was fondly called ‘Tatay’ by many within the company,” the family said in the statement. 

“He lived a full life raising his family, building his company, and perfecting his golf game.”

In 1947, Po migrated to Manila from Guangzhou, China with his mother in search of greener pastures. He was only 15 back then and did not know how to speak English or Filipino, so he taught himself by reading Chinese-English dictionary and later offered translation services to Chinese businessmen in Binondo to help her mother earn a living.

Po took industrial chemistry course at the University of Santo Tomas, but poverty prompted him to drop out. He began his career as a journalist for a Chinese newspaper headquartered in Binondo. In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2014, Po said he enjoyed his job as a reporter, but his growing family prompted him to look for higher-paying jobs.

He then moved into marketing and advertising and started Cathay Promotions Advertising Company. Among Po’s clients was late retail tycoon Henry Sy Sr., with Cathay Promotions designing SM’s iconic logo that is still used by the SM Group today.

Po later became a stockbroker, but he lost parts of his wealth in the 1973 stock market crash.

In 1978, Po used his remaining fortunes and founded Century Pacific, which is known for its branded tuna products. Since then, his brainchild expanded its offerings by introducing 555 Sardines, Argentina Corned Beef, Blue Bay Tuna and Birch Tree Milk, among other food brands. Century Pacific was listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange in 2014. 

Century Pacific also controls listed restaurant operator Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc.

Po had other business interests, too. He was into property development through Arthaland Corp., another publicly-listed company.

The University of Santo Tomas awarded him Masters in Business Administration in 2006.

Po is survived by his wife, Angelita, and his four children Ricardo Gabriel Po Jr., Teodoro Alexander Po, Christopher Po and Leonardo Arthur Po.

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