Alfonso Sycip was a prominent Chinese Filipino businessman during the American colonial period. He was born in Manila in 1883. His father was Jose Zarate Sycip, who was a Manila Chinese trader who has hispanized. There are accounts that Jose Sycip was a spanish subject. In 1890 he traveled back to Fujian, China for primary and secondary education. In 1904 he returned to Cebu, Philippines to work at a local trading company. He also helped to establish the Chinese Cemetery, Cebu Chinese Chamber of Commerce. In 1914 he was hired as the manager of Siy Cong Bieng and Company and assistant of Benity Siy. The company prospered through the 20s.
Shortly he and his brother Albino Sycip founded Yek Hua Trading Corporation, which his brother headed. Eventually Alfonso left his job with Mr. Siy to join full time in his brother’s operations. YHTC was devoted to import and export business. Finally he rose to the presidency of the company in the 1930s and expanded the lines of businesses into Cebu, Iloilo, Xiamen and Shanghai. He rose to one of the most prominent Chinese Filipino leaders when be became chairman of the Philippine Chinese General Chamber of Commerce for seven years between 1934 and 1941.
Alfonso was a supporter of the chinese government of Chiang Kai Shek during the Sino-Japanese war. When the Japanese invaded Manila he together with brother Albino Sycip and son-in-law George Dee Se Kiat were among the prominent persons of Chinese heritage who were detained. He was among those who were judged guilty by the Japanese and were sentenced to death. According to his son Paul, Alfonso rose in an impassioned defense stating that he and the others only help their countrymen in need and said that the Japanese would have done the same in reversed circumstances. He was paroled by the Japanese and he and several family members fled to the northern islands and stayed in Fuga island. Several family members were killed in cross fire between US and Japanese forces in the middle of 1945. Alfonso and his family were later rescued by the team lead by then Lt. John “Jack” Dove of the elite US Alamo Scouts, US Navy personnel and Filipino Assets of the US army. His daughter Epifania would later recall that they were rescued from the Island and returned to the door of their house in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
After the war he founded International Construction Corp. which for a time was involved in rehabilitation efforts after the war. He also founded the Commercial Airlines Inc. (CALI) together with his sons Paul and John, American aviator Col Curtiss Lambert and Atty Alexander Sycip (of Sycip Salazar Hernandez Gaitmaitan Law office). In 1948 he signed an agreement which forged a partnership with Andres Soriano Sr. of Philippine airlines which allowed PAL to merge with CALI. He also operated the Fuga Ranch Company and also served as a director of China Bank.
In the mid 1950s he purchased land in Novaliches, Luzon, Philippines which served as the raw land which Biyaya Corporation developed and is now Maligaya Park and Capitol Parkland. He was an influential man of his time and was well acquainted with prominent persons of the day such as General Chiang Kai Shek, President Manuel Quezon, Carlos P Romulo, President Sergio Osmena, future US President D. Eisenhower who served as an officer in the Phil., Justice Ramon Quisumbing…etc.
- Name: Alfonso Sycip
- Birthday: 1883
- Place of Birth: Manila
- Died: 1969
- Father: Jose Zarate Sycip
- Paul Sycip
- John Sycip
- Epifania Sycip
- School Attended:
- Primary and Secondary Education, Fujian, China (1890)
- Yek Hua Trading Corporation
- Chinese Cemetery, Cebu Chinese Chamber of Commerce
- Siy Cong Bieng and Company, Manager (1914)
- Philippine Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Chairman (1934 to 1941)
- International Construction Corp, Founder
- Commercial Airlines Inc. (CALI), Founder
- Philippine Airlines
- Fuga Ranch Company
- China Bank
- Biyaya Corporation
- Maligaya Park and Capitol Parkland