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The legacy of Nedy Tantoco

When Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco helmed the Rustan Group of Companies (RGOC), a family enterprise that pioneered luxury retail in the Philippines, the task was not only about growing a business, it was mainly about nurturing a legacy of no less than her late parents — Ambassador Bienvenido “Benny” Tantoco Sr. and Gliceria “Glecy” Rustia-Tantoco, the founders of Rustan’s.

With Ms. Tantoco’s own passing, the family business is in the spotlight once more, this time focusing on how she was able to steer the company to the next level despite the challenges, including a global pandemic. 

In fact, as the world was just gradually coping with the Covid-19 pandemic a few years back, Ms. Tantoco led the company towards a bold move of updating and renovating the Rustan’s flagship store in Makati in time for its 70th anniversary in 2022.

On that platinum anniversary, Ms. Tantoco, as always, stressed on the legacy of her parents, especially of her mother Glecy who was the visionary behind Rustan’s: “her legacy is still alive, and the boundaries that she broke ensures that we still offer only the top brands, only the finest products and only the best service.”

Yet, no matter how much she emphasizes the role of her parents in establishing the company, Ms. Tantoco’s own legacy was never diminished. Because in honoring her parents through her work and advocacies, she had made a significant mark not only in the Philippine retail industry, but also in the causes that she supports, especially as a patroness of culture and the arts.


Champion of arts and culture

With Ms. Tantoco’s passing, the art and culture community in the Philippines has lost one of its staunch supporters. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where Ms. Tantoco was part of the Board of Trustees from 2002 until her resignation in 2021, is among those grieving.

The CCP acknowledged Ms. Tantoco’s unwavering support, particularly in raising funds for new musical instruments and regular repairs of musical instruments of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) musicians. In fact, she was instrumental in bringing the PPO to the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York.

She had also underwritten several CCP productions, such as Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisird’Amore (The Elixir of Love) in 2017 and Lucia di Lammermoor in 2020, and Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot in 2022, to name a few.

She also served as chair and president of the nonprofit group Philippine-Italian Association, which strengthens cultural ties between the Philippines and Italy through cultural events like concerts and art exhibitions. One of her projects is the Philippine-Italian Association Endowment Fund.

In her philanthropic works, mainly through the Tantoco-Rustia Foundation, Ms. Tantoco was able to provide educational scholarship programs, sponsor concerts and art exhibits, and give support to various communities and organizations.

Ms. Tantoco is known for her astute professionalism and unwavering commitment to excellence; and many also attest to her compassion, especially those whose lives she had helped, touched and inspired — and through all these good works that she had done, she will be honored and her legacy will endure.

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