How the challenges of his childhood shaped Tatang Henry Sy’s passion for education



Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. delivering his speech during De La Salle’s Honorary Conferment Ceremony in 1999​ at the PICC Plenary Hall. 

The late Henry Sy, affectionately called “Tatang” by those who knew and loved him, was a man who was born to learn.

“Even when I was a young boy, I had a plan for my life,” Tatang once said. That plan began with an education.

Tatang was twelve years old when he helped manage his father’s small sari-sari store in Quiapo, Manila.

Tatang saw firsthand how difficult life was. So Tatang asked his father if he could go back to school to learn English. And going back to school for him meant going back to the very beginning—from Grade One. This was because he knew he needed to know the basics. Start from the ground up, he reminded himself.

His early years in Manila had taught him how important education was to his family and his own future. Receiving an education allowed him to push on with his dreams for growth and prosperity.

Decades later, Tatang’s son Hans Sy would take their high regard for the value of education to another level. The SM Group would become a majority stakeholder of National University (NU) and help accelerate it to greater heights, innovating and enriching its academic offerings, enhancing its learning and sports facilities and programs, and establishing more campuses across the country.

SM Scholars at a General Assembly

Jane Rose Sison is one of the 200 new scholars of SM Foundation for school year 2020-2021 who come from financially-challenged families – but whose dreams and goals in life surpass their present challenges. Inspired by Tatang’s life, SM Foundation, established by Mr. Sy and Mrs. Felicidad Sy in 1983, aims to empower the youth who struggle financially, through education.

In addition, the SM Foundation’s scholarship program funds the education of thousands of scholars, with the aim of developing our country’s youth and giving them brighter opportunities for their own success. SM Foundation, through its Scholarship program, provides deserving and qualified students with access to college education and technical-vocational studies since 1993. To date, it has produced more than 8,000 scholar-graduates.

The way SM continues to deeply value education mirrors the way Tatang himself placed importance on his own education as a young boy. On this Super Month of October, Tatang’s birth month, it is one of the things we celebrate at SM: the value of learning.

About SM Super Month

The SM Super Month campaign is SM’s biggest celebration across its well-loved retail brands, SM Supermalls, SM Stores and SM Markets for the whole month of October.

It is a time when SM honors its roots by sharing the legacy of its founder, Henry “Tatang” Sy, the visionary behind one of the country’s biggest conglomerates today, during his birth month.

SM finds more reasons to celebrate with those who matter most– family and friends– with fantastic offers, amazing sales, and exciting events across its retail presence nationwide starting October 2022. Find your reason to celebrate this #smsupermonth.