OPINION: Makati, Ayala and more

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Jun 08 2017 08:25 PM

Last Monday, some Manila newspapers carried a paid advertisement celebrating Makati’s 347th Foundation Day. The occasion was celebrated with a vin d’honneur at the Peninsula Hotel Ballroom to recognize and award the “Ten Outstanding Corporate Citizens of Makati,” with the incumbent Mayor, Ms. Abby Binay, offering a toast and delivering a brief speech with some thinly veiled self-serving allusions to Makati’s development and growth.

In this day and age, we no longer begrudge politicians when they engage in “license” to claim accomplishments that are oftentimes departures from the factual. That is now par for the course, I guess.

But thanks to that event, it gives me the opportunity to supplement the scant information given and contribute corrective historical data. After all, it is a subject that I have earned the right to speak on, having spent 25 years of a very fruitful life as a professional manager, a ‘trusted associate,’ in the faithful service of a respected and revered employer: Ayala, the incontestable creator of Makati. Privately, I was known to be and relied upon as, some sort of an in-house ‘clan historian,’ at the time of my employment. It was an avocation. I took pride in my acquired lore.

Mayor Abby Binay was silent as to what the 347th Foundation was all about and what from. Well, it is the year 1670 when San Pedro Makati became a “parish- municipio” on its own, separated from the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the ancient Santa Ana, then known as Lamayanor Namayan. Then, the Makati ‘poblacion’ abutted a Jesuit-owned estate, an hacienda later to be noted for growing nothing more than horse feed.

Let me interrupt myself before I proceed with my narrative. Please allow me to dare and declare, ex-cathedra. 

The municipal government of Makati is the single biggest beneficiary of the creation of Makati. And as the world knows, the monumental pelf that the family of Mayor Binay is accused of having amassed is of course through the power and opportunities sourced from and through the City Hall of Makati. To be precise about it, the local government had nothing to do with the concept, the vision and the development of Makati. Makati is exclusively private enterprise. The vision of one man, Joseph R. McMicking, son of the first Filipino Sheriff of Manila, Iloilo-born Jose McMicking. But that is another story!

Let me run through very quickly with a capsule history of 21st Century Makati’s antecedents. 

The whole terrain was first privately possessed, by way of an ‘encomienda,’ a Spanish royal land grant in the late 1500s. Original owners Captain Pedro de Brito and wife Ana were childless. In 1608, the property was bequeathed to the Jesuits along with some material wealth. As a consequence of the 1768 expulsion of the Jesuits from all of the Spanish realm, the property was repossessed by government and subsequently auctioned off. Two other previous owners had taken possession until it was sold to Jose Bonifacio Roxas in 1851 (one of children of Don Domingo Roxas, born in what is Taguig today and founder of Casa Roxas, 1834, from which Ayala y Compania is directly descended). 

It is from this ownership that today’s Makati can be directly traced, the ownership of which has remained within the same clan since. 

Jose Bonifacio Roxas is a brother of the legendary Dona Margarita Roxas de Ayala (pioneering businesswoman, benefactress of charities; her husband was Antonio de Ayala, a bookkeeper, a nephew of Manila Archbishop Jose Ma. Segui, 1830s). Jose Bonifacio wed a Juana Lim de Castro, their son Don Pedro Pablo Roxas married a first cousin, Carmen de Ayala, a daughter of Dona Margarita Roxas de Ayala. A daughter of Pedro and Carmen, Consuelo Roxas y Ayala, in turn married another cousin, a grandson of Dona Margarita through the marriage her other daughter, Trinidad, to Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz. A son of this union was Enrique Zobel de Ayala who married Consuelo Roxas y Ayala, daughter of Pedro Pablo Roxas and Carmen de Ayala, as mentioned earlier.

Did I lose you somewhere? Then, please read again. Paper and pencil would help. The Ayala story is fascinating!

The ownership of Hacienda San Pedro Makati was an inheritance of Consuelo Roxas (from her father Pedro Pablo Roxas, inheriting the spread earlier from his father, Jose Bonifacio Roxas), which she brought into the marital union with second cousin Enrique Zobel de Ayala. After Consuelo passed away, her three children Jacobo Zobel (father of Enrique Zobel); Alfonso Zobel de Ayala (father of Jaime Zobel de Ayala and grandfather of today’s Ayala prinicipals Jaime Augusto and Fernando), Mercedes Zobel de McMicking (childless) and widower Enrique Zobel de Ayala inherited the Makati hacienda. 

The second wife of Enrique Zobel de Ayala, Dona Fermina Montojo de Zobel (mother of the late artist Fernando, Gloria Z. Padilla and Consuelo Z. Alger. Dona Fermina was the niece of the bachelor Admiral Patricio Montojo whose fleet was sank by Dewey on May 1, 1898, our history books, remember?) inherited a fourth of the estate, after the demise of Enrique Zobel de Ayala in 1943. Dona Fermina’s share was subsequently taken over by her aforementioned three children.

Thus, in its pre-development stage, immediately after World War II, Hacienda San Pedro Makati, property of Ayala y Compania, (predecessor of Ayala Corporation) had four owner-partners, each with equal share: Jacobo Zobel, Alfonso Zobel de Ayala, Mercedes Zobel McMicking, and Fermina Montojo de Zobel de Ayala. 

The true and unexpurgated story of modern Makati as the present and the last generation came to know it, has yet to be written and told with proper recognition and earned admiration. It would be sheer blasphemy not to include the name Joseph R. McMicking, without whom there may have been no Makati as a we live it today. And for that matter, not even an Ayala Corporation of the 21st Century!

The City of Makati ought to seriously consider erecting a statue of Joseph R. McMicking (JRM) somewhere in the grounds of the City Hall. In a gesture of gratitude, it would be simply fitting. Or in the very least, a life-size bronze bust on a pedestal at the entrance to the City Treasurer’s Office. In genuine recognition and sincere appreciation. Joe McMicking, in a very apt manner of speaking, is the ‘Pied Piper’ whose visionary tune has caused and will continue to cause the inward flow of municipal revenues!

Folks, for supplemental ( and sentimental) reading, may I refer you to the following earlier entries.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.