Alfonso T. Yuchengco gave his wholehearted support to the people’s opposition to the Marcos dictatorship as open resistance was building up in the urban areas towards the late 1970s. Before then, many citizens had been willing to keep their peace, but now more and more of them were telling each other: “We need to do something.”
His quiet involvement, in the form of valuable moral and material assistance, gave hope in particular to those oppositionists in the Light a Fire Movement. They had drawn up plans to destabilize the regime by planting small explosives in selected government buildings and properties owned by some Marcos cronies. However, the arrest, detention and trial of several members of the group effectively put a stop to these activities.
Scion of a wealthy family descended from Chinese immigrants, Yuchengco was born and educated in Manila. He attended high school in De La Salle College, where he enjoyed the company of boyhood friends like any normal teenager. After the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II, he enrolled at the Far Eastern University where he earned a degree in commerce. After passing the public accountancy board examinations (with flying colors), he was sent to the United States to study at New York’s Columbia University for a master’s degree in business administration.
Upon his father’s death in 1953, Yuchengco took over the family interests in trading, construction and insurance. He steadily expanded, built up and diversified the various businesses that today include banking, pharmaceuticals, education, etc. His progressive outlook and management practices earned for him a good reputation in the Philippines as well as in Southeast Asia.
Although he could have taken advantage of his power and influence to further his own interests by collaborating with the Marcos regime, like many others, Yuchengco chose to keep his independence. There came a point, however, when he could no longer stand apart. “I could not just sit back and watch, as the greatest plunder in Philippine history was going on, wreaking havoc on the economy and driving capital and our best minds and talents to foreign lands.”
After the fall of the dictatorship, Yuchengco served as the country’s ambassador to China, and later to Japan and the United Nations. He was proud to have the chance to represent the Philippines, as he had always thought of himself as a Filipino first and foremost.
In 1990, upon the invitation of his good friend Jovito R. Salonga, Yuchengco joined and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, Inc. Subsequently he became a strong supporter of the foundation’s activities, staying as trustee and holding positions of vice-chair, chair and eventually chair emeritus, until he died in 2016.
 As quoted in Wilfrido V. Villacorta, “Alfonso T. Yuchengco: A Lifetime of Integrity,” Manila, De La Salle University, 2003, p. 21.