Thus begins the preface to GMA Network chairman and chief executive officer Atty. Felipe Gozon’s self-penned narrative of his remarkable life and times.
Yet, in these few words, anyone who has met or heard of the man who is the driving force of the radio and television giant, also known as the “Kapuso Network,” can only imagine the wealth of stories in the rest of pages that follow.
To celebrate Atty. Gozon’s 75th birthday on December 8, “FLG” as he is famously called in the broadcast business, will be surrounded by family, friends and colleagues as he adds another milestone to his accomplished years with the launch of his autobiography titled, Felipe L. Gozon: How GMA Became No.1.
Gozon was driven to publish his life story with the encouragement of friends and family during his 70th birthday. Though initially hesitant, he started to document his recollections on a tape recorder in the hopes that his manuscript will be in the very least an interesting read. Ultimately, now that the book is finished “so far,” his wish is that his experiences—whether in failure and success—will be useful, inspiring and encouraging for anyone who wants to make a difference in society.
He is commended by his contemporaries for his autobiography with Gilberto Duavit, Representative of the First District of Rizal and Gozon’s longtime friend and business partner writing in the foreword, “The book is humble, precise, and honest. Truly, it is reflective of the personality and character of the author.”
Also, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, a friend and former University of the Philippines (UP) classmate of Gozon writes, “Henry’s run of success in everything he pursued in life is amazing, for it showcases the genius of a Filipino. But more than his multidimensional talents, what separates Henry from others is that he ascended the ladder of life’s success without compromising in any whit the virtues of love of God and love of neighbor, especially the value of honesty.”
Felipe L. Gozon: How GMA Became No.1 is the second book on the subject’s life produced this year, with the first a children’s book published by LG&M Corp. LG&M is the children’s storybook publishing line of the Vibal Group, which is also behind the autobiography.
The children’s book, titled Kapuso Mo, Atty. Felipe L. Gozon features his formative years and narrates how family values played a role in helping him overcome many challenges, and paving the way for his success later in life.
It is this tale of prevailing through trials, of his relentless drive to succeed, and of his unwavering values that make Gozon one of the most respected leaders in the country.
As a man who wears many hats—a lawyer and a businessman, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend—he certainly appears to have mastered the responsibilities that come with his professional and personal life.
The lawyer and businessman
Ranking in the Top 10 in his class, Gozon graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from UP. He obtained his Master of Laws from Yale University Law School, and was admitted to the Bar in 1962, placing 13th in the examinations.
Currently, he is a senior partner at the Belo Gozon Elma Parel Asuncion & Lucila law firm.
Besides being an attorney, Gozon is also a proficient businessman. With his sharp entrepreneurial sense and strong values, he has maintained top-level positions in several corporations, most notably in GMA Network.
For his achievements in the field of law, media, public service and business, Gozon has received numerous accolades from various organizations, award-giving bodies, and the government.
The accidental broadcast CEO
Gozon’s venture into broadcasting was, as he calls it, “purely accidental” being unfamiliar with the industry at the time.
Over the years, despite humble beginnings and challenging realities, Gozon has turned GMA into one of the biggest broadcast stations in the Philippines and has proven that his accidental foray into the industry was indeed a worthy one.
Cementing his status as a pillar of excellence in the local broadcast industry today, Gozon was recently recognized by BizNewsAsia (BNA), the Philippines’ largest business and news magazine, during its 13th anniversary celebration on November 25.
Hailed as “The Best Broadcast CEO” by the weekly magazine, Gozon received the Entrepreneurship Excellence Award.
BNA cited Gozon’s “hard work, diligence, dedication, scholarship, expertise, innovation, and family values” as factors that led to his indisputable success as a media mogul.
“His values as a God-fearing family man, his training as a lawyer, and his experience as a broadcast CEO have enabled him to pursue truth with passion, fairness with conviction, and excellence with vision,” the award further declared.
“I am deeply grateful for this award, as well as for the continued recognition of my accomplishments as a CEO by BizNewsAsia,” said Gozon in reply. “I share this honor with our Kapuso viewers here and abroad, who are part of my and GMA Network’s success.”
In 2011, BNA named Gozon “Tycoon of the Decade”—a feat that spotlighted his remarkable leadership, first as president and later as chairman and CEO of GMA Network. Gozon has also been listed consistently among BNA’s “Power 100” from 2003 to 2010, and bestowed the Visionary Management Award in 2013.
As GMA’s executive vice president and chief financial officer Felipe Yalong puts it, “FLG is the kind of CEO that a CFO would like to work with . . . [with a management style that involves]minimal supervision but a lot of trust and confidence.”
As a distinguished lawyer prior to entering the broadcast business, Gozon told BNA that he found the broadcast industry more challenging than law practice.
“Every day is a different day when you’re in this business. You cannot be certain that what appeals to viewers today, would still appeal to them tomorrow. And this is what makes our jobs very challenging yet fulfilling at the same time,” he related.
Dynamic as the industry is, his passion for excellence is what motivates Gozon to keep GMA at the top of its game. He has brought “tremendous creativity, management excellence, growth, profitability and credibility to GMA Network” as BNA also acknowledged.
In the foreword for Gozon’s autobiography, close friend and chairman of the Philippine Judicial Academy’s Constitutional Law Department Atty. Pacifico Agabin credits the man’s values as cause for his success in the industry. He shares, “He fully realizes that ownership and management of mass media is a public trust, and that it must always be in the service of truth no matter where it may end or tend.”
“He attributes to the tagline of GMA he had imposed, ‘Walang kinikilingan’ as one of the main factors for the top-rating [performance of the network],” Agabin furthers.
Besides bringing in an estimated P20 billion in cumulative net profits, Gozon also laid out the framework that gave rise to the fulfillment of his vision to put GMA Network at the forefront of the broadcast field in the country.
Justice Magdangal Elma, presidential assistant for Legal and Judicial Affairs and chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government lauds his excellent management of the Network saying, “. . . it is as chairman, president and CEO of GMA Network Inc. that FLG found his niche by propelling GMA 7 to be the number one television station, and remains to be so.”
The man behind the business
It is not all work, however, for the industrious CEO. Gozon is also an ardent chess player and bowling enthusiast.
In fact, he has a regular bowling group comprised of his wife Tessie, and friends Roger and Lynn Villarosa, Jovy and Alice Cinco, and Ric and Et Librea.
He is an avid reader as well, with his literary choices ranging from suspense, mystery, history and science-fiction genres.
Certainly, Gozon has found his rhythm in going about his many pursuits whether at work or leisure.
However, beyond the many titles he has earned, there is a role that Gozon seems to cherish most—that of being a family man.
Despite heading various companies, Gozon finds his greatest sense of fulfillment in being the head of his family and counts spending time with them as one of his favorite pastimes.
Attesting to this dedication to family life, the National Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Foundation Inc., named Gozon as one of the recipients of its Ulirang Ama Award on June 15. The award recognizes outstanding Filipino fathers who have shown success in their professional lives while fulfilling their role as head of their respective families.
In his opening remarks delivered at the awarding ceremony, he focused on the responsibilities that come with fatherhood and the role that a father plays in the formation of values and traditions in the family.
“I have come to realize that if there is one job that challenges every parent even beyond his lifetime, it is being a father,” he said. “We, fathers, pass on more than our names and our genes and even our properties to our children. More importantly, we pass on values and family traditions that one day, consciously or unconsciously, will be passed on to future generations.”
He ended with a wish for all fathers, “That we all leave a better world for our children. And when their time comes, they will also do the same.”
Indeed, whether in his personal or professional life, and under the many hats he dons, Gozon lives by the values of honesty and integrity, the very same values he has inculcated into GMA’s corporate DNA, and that which he hopes to impart to his own children, as well as those he encounters on his journey in life.