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!