Fernando Zobel de Ayala breaks promise to honor J. R. McMicking?

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Last of two parts

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IN the first part of my article last Wednesday, May 6, 2015, I wrote that Fernando Zobel de Ayala (FZA) did not seem to keep his word in honoring Joseph R. “Joe” McMicking, the Visionary Builder of Makati whom I first wrote about last year (MT, April 12, 2014)

Mr. Joe McMicking, who is the acknowledged brains of the Ayala Corporation, is even married to his (FZA) father’s Aunt Mercedes, the late Matriarch of the Zobel de Ayala fortune. I wrote more about him in the article entitled “Fernando Zobel de Ayala on Honoring J. R. McMicking” (MT, December 6, 2014).

In his letter of December 1, 2014 to this columnist, Mr. Zobel wrote that “we are proposing instead that we find a way to honor Mr. McMicking within the Ayala Triangle or another prominent part of Makati.” The proposal of the President of Ayala Corporation is in lieu of the advocacy to rename redundant “Makati Avenue” to “J. R. McMicking Avenue” or simply “McMicking Ave.”

In his letter, the handsome son of Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, added: “We have been looking at various options and we should be able to make a decision in the NEXT FEW MONTHS (caps, mine).” But five months have passed and it appears that the promise was either overlooked or simply forgotten.

It was surmised in jest that perhaps the Zobel brothers Fernando and Jaime Augusto (JAZA) may be using a different calendar.

In good faith, I apprised Ms. Emily de Lara of the Corporate Communications of Ayala Corporation of a forthcoming follow-up article on the subject of honoring Mr. McMicking. Ms. De Lara is the affable Ayala executive who contacted me and personally delivered the letter of Mr. Fernando Zobel.

As mentioned in my last column last Wednesday, Ms. Ma. Carmela K. Ignacio, Assistant Vice-President (AVP) and Head of their Makati Project Development of Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI), wrote me last April 21, 2015 on the development in honoring the McMicking couple, Joseph and his wife Mercedes. Two self-explanatory paragraphs of the letter were quoted in my column.

However, when Ms. Ignacio of ALI was asked for the details that will honor the McMickings, she sadly could NOT give any. The ALI AVP promised to provide an update on the details in the future. “Inasmuch as the design plans have not yet been finalized, we could not provide further details at this point. Additional information may be furnished as soon as we are able to.”

By now, it is obvious that what Ms. Ignacio wrote was just a VAGUE idea that Ayala was forced to come out with after they learned of the forthcoming article on the FAILURE of FZA to keep his promise as contained in his own letter December 1, 2014. More than two weeks have passed and Ayala has NOT emailed anything of any development on the details.

When Ms. Ignacio of ALI wrote more than two weeks ago on April 21, she referred to the contents of her letter as “initial information.” Indeed, they were very raw information such as they have “already identified a prominent location within the Ayala Triangle Gardens that will be re-named in honor of the McMickings.” Ms. Ignacio could not even identify exactly where the “prominent location within the Ayala Triangle ” is actually situated.

The letter continued to say “planning for the site has already started, and it will take on a concept that symbolizes the McMickings’ vision and contribution to Makati’s development.” It is simply amazing Ayala cannot even provide any single detail on what “planning” and the “concept” they have done in the past five months from December 2014 to April 2015.

Even the second paragraph of the aforesaid letter shows that no work has been done at all. It said that “the project will be carefully planned.” In short, the planning to be done is still in the future! This is most unfortunate in spite of the assurance it will be “completed to fulfil our shared objective — to give due recognition to Col. Joseph McMicking for his contribution to the development of Makati and honor him for his pioneering and visionary spirit.”

The letter of Ayala Land, Inc. written by its AVP is rather disappointing. First, it started off with the wrong premise that there was a “request for information on Ayala Land’s plans to pay tribute to the McMickings.” Wrong. The interest of this columnist is to honor solely the late Joseph R. McMicking.

The letter further said that “we hope that we have addressed your concerns by sharing initial information with you in advance.” The information given really has no value at all since the same vague information on finding a place within the Ayala Triangle was already contained in the letter of their boss FIVE months ago! Mr. Fernando Zobel de Ayala is also the ALI Chairman & CEO.

What is even more interesting is in the covering letter in their email that said we “wish to give you an update on this subject matter.” Even in the last paragraph of the letter of ALI’s AVP, the landline and mobile telephone numbers were kindly furnished for “further information on the project.” But when details were requested by email, none was given.

In the first part of the article last Wednesday, I wrote that “comments on Ayala’s letter will be held in abeyance until the receipt of the details on the Site Development Plan.” However, since no update has been received since more than two weeks ago, then it is time to do so.

I really doubt that the Zobels would honor Joseph McMicking in a big significant way such as by renaming “Makati Ave.” to “McMicking Ave.” What they will most probably do is just a token memorial consolation to satisfy the clamor to honor Mr. McMicking. But I will welcome it if I am proven wrong.

Fellow Manila Times columnist and former Senator Rene A. V. Saguisag once told me after we went ballroom dancing that the Zobels are “STINGY” in honoring the Visionary who built Makati. Mr. McMicking is the uncle of their own father Don Jaime, nephew of McMicking’s wife, Mercedes Zobel.

There are now speculations that the real plan of Ayala is to later rename “Makati Ave.” to “Zobel Ave.” It sounds plausible because there is no street in Makati that is solely named after the German family name. So far, the closest street name is “Zobel Roxas St.” that is parallel to Pablo Ocampo, Sr. (formerly Vito Cruz) and cuts across the Osmeña Highway (continuation of SLEX).

But why not a “McMicking Ave.” to replace “Makati Ave.” to honor the man who built Makati in the first place. After World War II, Alfonso Zobel, the father of Don Jaime, left for Spain. His brother Col. Jacobo Zobel, the father of the young Enrique, later left Ayala and pursued his military career. Both Alfonso and Jacobo are brothers of Mercedes, the Matriarch of the Zobel clan.

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1 Comment

  1. R. B. RAMOS on

    The sons of brothers Alfonso and Jacobo later worked at Ayala. They are Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Enrique Zobel, who worked under their Uncle Joe McMicking. Mr. McMicking made Enrique Zobel the Managing Director of Ayala Corporation in 1965 when he and his wife Mercedes left for Spain to develop the high-end and luxurious Sotogrande in Costa del Sol.