QUO VADIS, MARIANO TANENGLIAN?
Amid the stifling summer heat, coffee shops are rife with talk about the ongoing feud between taipan Lucio Tan and his brother, Mariano Tanenglian. The feud centers on the alleged embezzlement of company funds for personal profit by Mariano. He has refuted this claim and many of his supporters are prepared to stand by him. Many of whom will eventually hear his story, will sympathize with him.
The intensity of this feud is such magnitude that it can be triggered the onset of the fall of an empire. Most people believe that the Lucio Tan Group of Companies was founded solely by Lucio Tan. Most, if not all, of his little known biographies credit him with the success of this conglomerate. In truth, this success should be attributed to four individuals, namely: Lucio Tan, Benito Tan (deceased), Atty. Florencio Santos (deceased), and Mariano Tanenglian.
The business started out as a small trading firm in the late 1950s. From there, it expanded to a multinational that includes a chemical manufacturing company, a cigarette manufacturing company, a piggery, a brewery, banks, hotels, airlines, a distillery, and real estate development. It has business interests not only in the Philippines but in Hong Kong, China, Papua New Guinea, Guam, Canada, and the USA as well.
In order for this enterprise to get where it's presently at, it needs the capability of a trusted chief financial officer. For fifty years, Mariano Tanenglian held that position. He worked efficiently, diligently, and honestly for the company, to the point that it can be said that the company could not have attained this success without his contribution and hard work.
With the position of chief financial officer of a huge conglomerate come all the power and perks. Therefore, it is not surprising that in his 50 years of service, Mariano has accumulated such power and has earned the rights to such perks. Lucio Tan has, in the past, publicly acknowledged Mariano's role in the company's achievements. However, it appears that of late, he is beginning to feel threatened by Mariano's control and influence in the company. In addition to this feeling, he is constantly being fed misinformation and half-truths by people close to him who are more interested in empowering themselves by ingratiating themselves with the taipan. It is widely known in the business community that Lucio Tan thrives on intrigues and exploits discontent to his advantage.
Despite his position and power, Mariano Tanenglian has maintained a low-key profile in the business community. He has gained respect and dignity through his sincerity, discipline and industry. Another major issue in this running feud is his loyalty to Lucio Tan's first family. It is no big secret that Lucio Tan has several families. Because of this, succession to the throne of power is of foremost concern. Having been taught by their late mother on the virtue of faithfulness, Mariano has only acknowledged the legitimacy of the first wife, Carmen, and has only recognized Lucio Tan Jr. as the rightful heir. It is also common knowledge that in spite of the acute business sense of the junior, the taipan has not looked upon his son favorably.
As a result, Mariano has earned the ire of Lucio Tan as well as those on the sidelines who have other items in their hidden agenda. He was given the ultimatum of either being exiled abroad with the rest of his immediate family or otherwise, a memo will be issued to security officers of all the companies in the group prohibiting him from entering the companies' premises. In February 2009, he was actually barred from entering the premises of the Allied Bank Building in Ayala where he holds office.
Being at the top is said to be a lonely proposition for one is not surrounded by equals but by underlings who are mostly sycophants, smooth operators, blind adherents, or people who simply have no choice. History is full of chronicles of rulers, kings, and emperors whose empires were brought to ruins by such underlings. A good leader is one who can weed out the charlatans from the ones who are genuinely dedicated.
Fifty years of contribution to the company has been suddenly rendered worthless. Meanwhile, quo vadis, Mariano Tanenglian? Where do you go from here?