OPINION: McMicking of ‘McKati': An Ilonggo antecedent

Buddy Gomez - Cyberbuddy

Posted at Aug 03 2017 05:37 PM

(This is now our fifth in the series. I receive encouraging notes suggesting/requesting for more. I am grateful for the interest, of course, and will respond with gusto for as long as my memories and resources last.) 

Many who are familiar and those even vaguely familiar with the name Joseph R. McMicking and now, those who have recently come to know and admire “Uncle Joe” will surely be surprised at the information that the pre-war (WW II, that is) McMickings of Manila had roots in Iloilo!

“Uncle Joe’s” dad, Jose and his grandmama, “Lola Josefa,” were from Iloilo.

There were indeed Filipino McMickings as there are still Pinoy MacGregors and MacLeods (pronounced ‘mac klaud’). This should not really be a cause for surprise. Let’s face it, not all Filipinos are brown-skinned with Hispanic and/or Filipino derived surnames. Or Hispanised Chinese names. I wonder if some would still remember that the Philippines had an Ambassador to the UK whose surname was ‘Stilianopolous?” That is Greek but his family is traced back to Tigaon, Camarines Sur. And then, what about ‘Kookooritchkin?’ Zshornack? What about Von Giese, Eizmendi and Zervoulakos? But I am digressing.

The first McMicking to have come to the islands was affiliated with one of the oldest trading firms that anticipated the opening of the Philippines to foreign trade, expanding it beyond the limitations of the Galleon Trade which was exclusively with Spain and New Spain (Mexico). The Galleon Trade ended in 1815, followed by Mexico’s Independence from Spain in 1821. Ker & Co opened for business in 1827. Sometime in 1846 and for a number of years thereafter, it was known as Ker, McMicking & Company. It continues to operate today as Ker & Co., Ltd. That McMicking was Thomas, originally from Dumfries, Scotland.

Filipiniana blibliophiles and dedicated Philippine history lovers would have come across a ‘Robert MacMicking’ who had a three-year sojourn in the islands and wrote a book published in London in 1851. “Recollections of Manilla and the Philippines— During 1848, 1849 and 1850.” The Filipiniana Book Guild (FBG) issued a reprint of this book in 1967, now a highly valued collectors’ antiquarian possession. The first McMicking, Thomas, appears to have been the older brother of Robert. 

Essentially “Recollections of Manilla” (MacMicking spelled it with a double ‘l’ throughout) was a socio-economic profile of the country with observations and critiques. It makes for a very interesting read. The FBG reissue is even enhanced by the annotations of Morton J. Netzorg, a very well-known scholar of Philippine history and Filipiniana bibliophile. He was born in Bicol of parents who were both “Thomasites.” (A group of American volunteer teachers sent over by the US colonial government in the very early 1900s.)
It was a great nephew of the earlier set of McMickings, Thomas George Torrance (born in 1849), who came to also reside in the Philippines, and join the firm, as well. This was Iloilo in the 1870s.
In those times, Iloilo was the Queen City of the South, not yet surpassed by Cebu. British trading companies as well factors and banks (Standard Chartered/1872) were already operating there. Iloilo was a principal entrepot, second only to Manila. The beginnings of sugar, hemp and copra for the world!

Thomas George Torrance McMicking married a local Spanish-Filipina, Maria Josefa Lamadrid. They had an only son, Jose, born in Iloilo November 7, 1879. Jose McMicking, the Scottish-Ilonggo, is the father of our subject “Uncle Joe.” 

It is very probable that there may be descendants of old Ilonggo families who would have heard of the McMickings and Lamadrids as principal families in old Iloilo. If church and municipal records are still extant, there may be ancient documents that could enhance our stories.

Jose McMicking’s early schooling began in Iloilo but later as he was in his teens, he was sent to Hong Kong (presumably to the Dominicans) as well as to London for secondary education. But Jose McMicking finished his law studies at the University of Santo Tomas. Among his class and school mates were the likes of Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmena, Juan Sumulong and Francisco Ortigas.

While other law alumni of the only Law school in the country at that time went for politics, others proceeded with the legal profession. Others into business. 

Jose McMicking went for the professional bureaucracy. With his law degree, he entered the service of government, becoming the first Filipino Sheriff of Manila and also becoming a “Clerk of Court,” serving Manila’s first Courts of First Instance, under American judges and justices. Thus, his name is entered in the dozens of Court Decisions that are to be found in Supreme Court jurisprudence. (Ex. ‘G.R. No. L – 4237, 1908, etc.).
As Sheriff, he was the enforcer of court decisions/custodian of records which are more often than not contested by the losing party. Hence, it was quite ordinary for the name “Jose McMicking, Sheriff of Manila” becoming a defendant, per court records. Even law students today would naturally come across the name when reading case law.

At about this time, 1910, a new insurance company, The Insular Life Assurance Co. Ltd., the first Filipino life insurance company, was organized by Manila businessmen headed by Don Enrique Zobel de Ayala. As a civil servant, Jose McMicking must have enjoyed an attractive reputation for business management and an agreeable way with people. So that in 1912, he was invited to be InsularLife’s principal operating officer, as its General Manager. It was a position that he was to hold until his untimely death in 1942.

It is worth noting therefore that in the early annals of Philippine business management, Jose McMicking is among the very first of Filipino professional managers. That is, a trusted position of managing the affairs of a commercial organization without being an owner. Although, he did come to own some nominal shares in Insular Life later on.

Jose McMicking, while Sheriff of Manila, married a lass from the Ynchausti clan. Ynchausti and Company (popularly known as YCO) is one of the big-time Filipino business conglomerates at the turn of the last century. The Ynchaustis faded away by intentionally devolving their organization to successors and new owners, the Elizaldes. http://www.philstar.com/opinion/591542/entrepreneurs. 

According to Col. Joseph R. McMicking, his mother, Angelina Rico, was a Manila-born orphan who was raised by her uncle, Rafael Ynchausti, with his family. During the war years (Spanish-American; Philippine-American) they lived in Paris. Hence, Angelina was fluent in French as well as in Spanish. They returned to the Philippines in 1904. (Other entries referred to Angelina as an Ynchausti “daughter.”) 

JRM remembers her as a very sweet person but quite a disciplinarian. His dad never gave him a spanking but his mother did.

Mr. & Mrs. Jose McMicking had five children. Joseph, Consuelo, Alfred, Henry and Helen.

Many of these little vignettes in his life, JRM recalled during a thank you speech he gave on the occasion of a birthday luncheon in Sotogrande, Spain honoring him on of his 80th . March 23, 1988. 


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