Perhaps it is only fitting that FORBES ASIA wrap up our inaugural series of country-specific lists of Southeast Asia's wealthiest with the Philippines. That's because the list of 40 Richest Philippines takes the booby prize among the region's rich. As a group, wealthy Filipinos are actually the poorest, when compared to their brethren in Indonesia, Malayasia, Singapore and Thailand. They had the smallest total net worth, $16 billion; fewest number of billionaires, just three; and lowest minimum net worth, a mere $25 million. The nation's historic political instability certainly hasn't helped, nor has the fact that the Philippine Stock Exchange has the tiniest market capitalization, an estimated $50 billion, in the region. Still the country is showing signs of life. Its stock market is up a third, making it one of the best performers in Asia this year. And foreign investors and businesses are more welcomed than in the past, thanks to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's policies. One person who has done very well lately is Henry Sy, ranked No. 1, whose sm Investments is up one-third since June. A common trait among the rich listers, in part due to the stock market's size, is their tendency to keep their fortunes private. Another is the fact that almost all the wealth assigned to an individual is actually shared by families, sometimes large extended ones. Several of these tycoons are true bootstrappers: John Gokongwei Jr. lived on the street as a teenager after his father's death; son of a shrimp vendor, Manuel Villar grew up in a Manila slum before building a fortune providing affordable housing. The source of fortunes is diverse, coming from more than a half-dozen industries including media, household products, mining and education. While most of these magnates make their money within the Philippines, several are pushing into new markets. Tony Tan Caktiong, who has more than 100 restaurants in China, is opening his first Jollibee fast-food restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada next year; he also plans to roll out another restaurant chain on the East Coast of the U.S. Plus, he's announced plans to enter India soon, possibly through acquisition. The list was compiled using shareholding information and financial data obtained from the Philippine Securities & Exchange Commission, the Philippine Stock Exchange, analysts or the companies themselves. Privately held companies, for whom in most cases only 2004 data were readily available, were valued based on comparisons to prevailing price-to-earnings or price-to-sales ratios for similar publicly traded companies. Net worths were calculated using stock prices and exchange rates from early December.
1. Henry Sy
Philippines' leading retailer opened his biggest mall yet in May on Manila's waterfront. Now on verge of becoming nation's second-largest banker, once merger with his Banco de Oro and Equitable PCI is finalized ( Click here for story).
2. Lucio Tan
The Filipino-Chinese magnate made his fortune from a variety of sources, including tobacco and beer. Also owns Philippine Airlines. With Hong Kong property portfolio, cashed in on booming Asian real estate market.
3. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala
Patriarch (otcbb: PRRH.OB - news - people ) of Ayala Corp., Philippines' oldest conglomerate, founded in 1834. Interests in real estate, water, telecom. Officially retired in April, though sons Jaime Jr. and Fernando have run daily operations for the past decade.
4. Eduardo Cojuangco
Known as "Danding." Shares of San Miguel Corp., the food and beverage group he chairs, briefly suspended in November, after alleged inflation of sales figures of its Coca-Cola (nyse: KO - news - people ) Bottlers. Company denies allegations.
5. George Ty
Founder and chairman of Metrobank, one of the Philippines' largest financial institutions with branches in Asia, U.S. and Europe. Known to wear suit and tie to office every day. May soon relax a bit: founder handed over chairmanship earlier this year.
6. John Gokongwei Jr.
Lived on street at age 13 after wealthy father died. Peddled thread, soap, candles during World War II. Later founded JG Summit, a conglomerate with telecom, property, food, airline and textiles interests, that is celebrating fiftieth anniversary this year. Chairman emeritus, leaves daily operations to son Lance, who is president.
7. Tony Tan Caktiong
Got start with 2 ice cream parlors; soon switched to hamburgers. Today his fast-food group Jollibee, which he still runs, has almost 1,500 locations operating under 6 brands. Also 167 restaurants abroad, including 100-plus in China. Plans to open locations on U.S.' East Coast and in Las Vegas, and to enter India next year.
8. Andrew Tan
Chairs Megaworld Corp., large real estate company known for its Manila complexes that integrate office, residential and commercial units. Now developing technology parks. Just broke ground on a new Marriott hotel in Newport City.
9. Emilio Yap
Controls Manila Bulletin, one of the nation's oldest and largest dailies. Hands-on chairman reportedly approves story lineups. Has investment in historic Manila Hotel. Son Enrique helps run the business.
10. Oscar Lopez
Harvard grad heads family holding company Lopez Inc., which has controlling stake in ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., founded by late father, Eugenio. Now nation's largest media group, run by late brother's son, Eugenio III. Group also has interests in power generation, construction.