Zenaida 'Nedy' Rustia-Tantoco Passed Away

A woman who was known for her leadership and philanthropic work, Zenaida Rustia Tantoco redefined the landscape of luxury fashion retail in the Philippines. Last February 8, Zenaida Rustia Tantoco, Rustan’s Chief Executive Officer, passed away at the age of 77. Whether she was known as ZRT in the business industry, or Nedy by her family, the business figure devoted her life to keeping their family legacy alive. At the beginning of Rustan’s history, Nedy, a cum laude graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Assumption College, would watch her parents from the sidelines since childhood, accompanying them around the world as they shopped and negotiated for the retail prices of their products.

A formidable leader

Through ZRT’s leadership, the Rustan Group further expanded with Store Specialists Inc. or SSI Group in 1996, bringing Hugo Boss into the country. A year later, the establishment of Rustan Coffee Group for Starbucks, and Sta. Elena Realty, followed suit. All these were possible through the couple’s firstborn, Nedy, who imbibed her mother’s tenacity in the business industry, but also managing to add a twist of her own self to the business, as well. While she introduced new ideas for their growing consumers, their DNA of luxury retail shopping and thoughtful gift-giving at Rustan’s remained.

Outside of leading the family business, Nedy was a philanthropist and patron of Philippine arts. During her time serving the Cultural Center of the Philippines as part of the board of trustees, she raised funds for new musical instruments and the regular repairs of instruments of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO). With her major contribution, she became instrumental in bringing the PPO to the Carnegie Hall in New York. Through the Tantoco-Rustia Foundation, which is Rustan’s philanthropic arm established in 1995, ZRT was also able to provide educational scholarship programs and sponsor concerts and art exhibits, including one that celebrated the works of National Artist for Fashion Design Ramon Valera.