Honoring J. R. McMicking – Visionary builder of Makati

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The idea to honor the late Joseph R. McMicking, the visionary who built Makati and the acknowledged brains behind the Ayala conglomerate, started in early March. It was during the first of a series of dinners I had last month with my good friend and fellow Times columnist Rene A. V Saguisag, one of our country’s most distinguished senators.

I do not remember how the topic got there, but what I recall was that Rene asked me if there is a street or monument in Makati that is named in honor of Joe McMicking.  My reply was that I am not aware of any, except for the Joseph R. McMicking Campus at the prestigious Asian Institute of Management (AIM) along Paseo de Roxas Avenue.

Thus, the idea emerged of renaming a major street in Makati to honor the Visionary  & Builder without whom there would not be a Makati developed by Ayala as we know it today: the country’s premiere Central Business District (CBD) with the all the office buildings, five-star hotels and excellent shopping malls like Glorietta and Greenbelt.

Let us face it: the only reason why the Philippines has a Makati to be proud of is because  the former 1,650-hectare former Hacienda de San Pedro bought in 1851 by Jose Bonifacio Roxas of the Roxas-Ayala clan  was developed by Ayala Corporation with Joseph R. McMicking at helm of the future conglomerate after World War II.


(Joe McMicking  married his sweetheart  Mercedes Zobel  in 1931 after his studies in Stanford University in the United States.  Mercedes would later became the Matriarch of the Zobel de Ayala family and in control of their holding company Ayala Corporation.)
The residential condominium buildings in Makati today in Legaspi and Salcedo villages started with the Urdaneta Apartments built by Ayala in the early 1970s at the corner of EDSA and Ayala Avenue. I first heard the name “McMickings”  in the mid-70s at a friend’s Urdaneta condo unit.  Joe & Mercedes McMicking had a unit there to stay in when they were in town from Spain or America.

One of the great legacies of Joe McMicking are the first master-planned villages that started as the suburbs of Metro Manila in the 1950s to the 1970s. The future Visionary of Makati may have seen the suburban development trend while he was studying in the early 1930s in Stanford in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The move to suburbia in the US was a phenomenon that started after World War II in the mid-1940s.

So the Philippines with its suburban villages in Makati was not behind America. Other than the exclusive enclaves of Forbes Park along Mckinley Avenue developed in the late 1940s and Dasmariñas Village beside it, Ayala Corporation built affordable villages in the 50s and 60s. The prices of properties in Makati cost less in the villages like San Lorenzo, Bel-Air and Magallanes than in Quezon City where our family used to live.

Our family was a beneficiary to Joe McMicking’s vision and managerial ability in having developed the suburban villages of Makati. We were fortunate to have moved in to one of these affordable communities in the mid-1960s. Together with the education that my parents gave me, I am very grateful for that wonderful experience of having lived and grown up in a great neighbourhood such as Magallanes Village.

What I noticed when we lived in Magallanes was that close to half of the Filipino residents were children of officers from the military: Air Force, Navy, Army and the Constabulary (PC). They were colonels and generals in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) like Colonel Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) of the PC-INP who would later become president and the late AFP Chief of Staff and Ambassador Manuel T. Yan, Sr.

Both generals, Ramos and Yan, lived across the park along Magdalena Circle together with other military officers like Navy Commodore Pastor Viado and Air Force General Andres Garcia. Other families whose fathers were with the military were the Punzalans, Picaches.

Legaspis, Nuvals, Hernandezes and Gonzalezes. Our “materiales fuerte”  built-to-own house was bought from Air Force Colonel Cecilio C. Leoncio.

For me, one remarkable legacy of Colonel McMicking, who served with the staff of General Douglas McArthur during WWII in Manila and Australia, was selling affordable lots in Magallanes Village to officers of the AFP who could build their homes with dignity. They did not have to be corrupt to afford them, as what sadly happened to many military and police generals in the past decades.

So I am one with the proposal of former Senator Rene A. V. Saguisag to rename Makati Avenue tJoseph R. McMicking Avenue. It is only proper and fitting to rename the said avenue after the Visionary & Builder of Makati! In fact, it is already long-overdue!

rbrpilipinas@gmail.com

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9 Comments

  1. Jerry Moffitt on

    Hello Rick…
    I am not one of those with ancestorial ties to the Philippines, in fact I can only claim about 2½ years while growing up…. but what a great experience! Leaving Nebraska and traveling Route 66 across country then taking a passenger liner to Manila… I call it the Fantastic Journey. But the excitement really began in the Philippines. It was 9 years after WW2 had ended and I saw the destruction and heard the stories of Japanese occupation and personal stories of survival. I relish those facts to this day.

    We ventured out often into the countryside and saw how farmers and people in small
    villages lived and worked to survive. At 10 -12 years old . . those memories also stay fresh. I had only ONE friend who could relate to what I spoke of . . he was an American who grew up in the Canal Zone ….. we spoke of the same things. Then one day he said to me, “Did you ever think of how boring life is in the USA compared to where you lived?” I’d have to say …. very much so . . . But I can also say, “I had a glimpse of something very special.”

    Skip is a friend of mine and we managed to get together several years back. His story of travels back to the Philippines and learning of his parents plight are always fresh in my mind.

    Best of luck on your endeavor because as we witness in the geopolitical world we have today, ‘to forget the past . . will certainly become a threat in the future’ . .

    Jerry Moffitt Nebraska / USA

    • Jerry,

      Thank you so much for your letter. It must have been some adventure for you in 2.5 years of growing up here. I am curious why only 2.5 years?

      Skip has written to me in response to my invitation to the alumni of American School (now IS). I love it when he says he is P-Noy. I would ask him of his travel adventures in PH and his parents’ flight.

      By the way, what is the “Canal Zone? ”

      I completely agree with you about not forgetting the past because it is what made us today.

      Best regards.

      Rick

    • Jerry,

      Thank you so much for your letter. It must have been some adventure for you in 2.5 years of growing up here. I am curious why only 2.5 years?Skip has written to me in response to my invitation to the alumni of American School (now IS). I love it when he says he is P-Noy. I would ask him of his travel adventures in PH and his parents’ flight.

      By the way, what is the “Canal Zone? ” I completely agree with you about not forgetting the past because it is what made us today.

      Rick

  2. Matthew Parkes on

    Was there an article here?

    All I saw was non-stop name-dropping.

    Hopeless. This paper clearly needs to hire a real journalist.

    • McMickings are not directly related to the Sorianos. Only through his wife Mercedes Zobel who is a cousin of the Sorianos, Their grandmothers, daughters of Margarita Roxas and Anotnio Ayala, were sisters.

      McMickings are related to the Ortigas family Both their mothers are the Ynchausti sisters of the Ynchausti & Company or YCO.

    • McMickings are not directly related to the Sorianos. Only through Mercedes Zobel, wife of Joseph McMicking. The grandmothers of the Zobels and Sorianos are the Roxas-Ayala sisters, children of Margarita Roxas and Antonio Ayala.

      McMicking and Ortigas families are related because their mothers were te Ynchausti sisters. Ynchausti family was RICHER than the Zobels at the turn of 20th century. Same for the Sorianos.

  3. Agree to your take and that of Sen RV Saguisag. If you may add to your long list of contributions to PH legacy and heritage shared by Col McMicking: The highest honor and flying proficiency in Undegratuate Pilot Training at the PAF Flying School in the PAF is named after him, and appropriately named “McMicking Award” and highly etimed among those who ever got to earn the Aeronautical Rating of Military Aviator and earned the right to wear the Pilot’s Wings and Badge.

    • Wonderful news on McMicking Award. A friend from Ayala Corporation told me about it. He mentioned that he went to Air Base in Lipa for the awarding ceremonies representing Ayala for the McMicking Award. i read that he taught then General Dwight Eisenhower how to fly when he was assigned in the Philippines.