The Untold Story of Henry Sy, Sr. and Clinica Manila


By Dr. Hernando B. Delizo, MBA
Founding Chair and President Clinica Manila

SM Megamall is one of the biggest malls in the Philippines by way of leasable space and being in SM Megamall in the same location for the past 25 years is not a small feat for Clinica Manila in the history of retailing. If the hospital is the wholesaler, Clinica Manila is the first retailer of health in a retailers’ paradise.

Personally, I see Clinica Manila, by itself, is a tribute to Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. I have personal meeting with him up close once only, where we exchanged few words but the encounter remained in my heart as it truly explains why he is a fulfilled and successful entrepreneur—by being client-centered.

It can be said the success of Clinica Manila in SM Megamall is due in part to the fact that Mr. Sy shared Clinica Manila’s Vision and Mission: Accessible Quality Healthcare with a Personal Touch.

Here is the story:

When we were looking for a space for a pioneering health-medical facility in Megamall in early 1994, the then leasing manager was telling us that services like medical/diagnostics should be located at the 5th Floor and the allocated space per tenant-locator is 150 sq. meters and would not accommodate our request for 1000 sq. meters. Since one member of our development team is a realtor-architect and close to/had a link to get a personal audience to Mr. Henry Sy, he was tasked to ask for consideration to give us the 1000 sq. meter for the pioneering comprehensive ambulatory care center in the mall.

SM Group’s Founder Mr. Henry Sy, Sr.

The request was granted as we were told by the leasing manager, “Mr. Sy told us to listen to you.” Thus we were given the space in the 2nd Floor of Building A.

When we were already constructing, we asked for an exclusive and one-of-a-kind clinic to parking connection/door. We had a flat “NO” from the leasing manager since it cannot happen that an access door be given to a tenant direct to the parking area.

Given the crucial requirement for a convenient access to clients as early as 7 a.m. since the mall opens usually at 10 a.m., it is important to make it known to Mr. Sy about this client-centered request. We followed the same route to reach out to Mr. Sy.

We got what we asked for and the leasing manager said, “Mr. Sy approved your door request.”

After our formal opening blessed by Cardinal Sin on December 10, 1994, I was in my office when I was told by our receptionist that someone wanted to see me. I was stunned to know that Mr. Henry Sy Sr. was the “someone” who was at the reception area accompanied by Mr. Hans Sy. I rushed to welcome him who politely asked if he can tour and see our clinic facility. While we were going around, Mr. Henry Sy, kept saying, “Just like SM, Just like SM…”

Remember during that time the central message and tagline of SM was “SM has it all (with the iconic tune).” Towards the end of the tour, after seeing the first ever CT Scan and operating theaters in the mall, he inquired, “Where is the door?” For a while I was confused what door he was asking for but immediately I realized he was asking for the exclusive and direct Clinica Manila – parking area connection. When he saw and viewed the door as we came out to the parking area, he seemed happy and showed obvious satisfaction.

I was somehow seemed hit by sudden gush of pride and joy, that indeed the beloved Tatang, the one who made all things possible for the Philippine retailing industry also saw the “centrality of accessibility of a ground breaking concept in healthcare delivery” by clients to the services we provide. He shared our vision-mission even if we were just a speck and just one of the thousands of tenants, his decisiveness towards being client-centered proved providential. We at Clinica Manila can continuously provide financial and physical accessibility to quality healthcare for the Filipino.

Clinica Manila pioneered private healthcare retailing. Many others followed our successful game-changing model 25 years ago.

As we celebrate our silver anniversary, we look back and thank those who made it possible. We are the ever growing Clinica Manila where we found home at SM Megamall. We draw our inspiration from his life, as we embrace the “out of the box” principles of Industrial Revolution 4.0, Clinica Manila will once again strive to be a “gamechanger@ 25” in the healthcare horizon.

Mr. Henry Sy, the icon-father of Philippine Retailing, not in a small measure, is part of our success!

“Mr. Henry Sy, the icon-father of Philippine Retailing, not in a small measure, is part of our success!”

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