Why the Tantocos stay on top of luxe retail
Rustan’s movers tell their own stories —some amusing — on the store that pioneered in many firsts.
Let's start from the beginning. We know that the luxury retail giant Rustan's was founded by Bienvenido Tantoco and Gliceria Rustia-Tantoco 65 years ago in a simple space on San Marcelino street in old Manila.
How did the store get its name? Looking at their names, the answer is obvious. But here's the story as told by the co-founder himself, Lolo Benny, now 96,to his grandson Donnie Tantoco, president of Rustan’s, during one of their regular conversations:
DONNIE TANTOCO: Who helped you come up with the brand name Rustan’s?
LOLO BENNY: It was Jessie Bello. He was the head of marketing for the Rufino Group of Companies. We worked together so I asked for his help.
DONNIE: Wow, sounds like it did not cost you anything?
LOLO BENNY: We thought it was a good idea to merge our names. Since I am the man, Jessie Bello felt that my family name should come first and your Lola Glecy’s second. He made a logo. DONNIE: Really? So what happened? LOLO BENNY: Tanrus did not look and sound right so I asked him to make it baliktad. DONNIE: And then? LOLO BENNY: He used the same script and put the first three letters of your Lola’s name first, and mine last. It became Rustan. It was perfect!
Jessie asked me: Are you sure you want to put your wife’s name first?
I looked at the logo and kept repeating and compar-
Fernando Zobel, Ayala Corp. president, with Nikki Huang and Kit Zobel
Nedy Tantoco, Rustan’s chairman and CEO, beside the portrait of her mom, Rustan's founder Glecy Rustia-Tantoco
Ambassador Benny Tantoco is greeted by Fernando Zobel
Criselda Lontok, Rustan's designer, with Mario Katigbak, Hermes and Bulgari Philippines manager
Stores Specialists Inc. president Anton Huang and Nina Huang
Rustan's administrative manager Paolo Tantoco and Dina Arroyo-Tantoco, marketing comm manager