05/7/17

RCBC Plaza and the Alfonso Yuchengco Legacy

It was less than a month ago, to be exact on April 15 which was Black Saturday, when news of Alfonso Yuchengco’s death thrust the country’s business community in greater mourning since the passing of Mercury Drug’s founder Mariano Que the previous day.

Alfonso Yuchengco (photo courtesy of Alchetron)

Unlike many of the country’s taipans, Alfonso Yuchengco, known to many as AY, was born to an already prosperous family, thanks to the efforts of his father Enrique Yuchengco, a Fujian-born immigrant who managed to establish some thriving businesses, notably the China Insurance and Surety Company which became the leading non-life insurance company in the country. But to his credit, AY managed to grow the insurance business, evolving into what is now Malayan Insurance and expanding into other businesses such as life insurance with Grepalife (which eventually entered into a partnership with Sun Life to become Sun Life Grepa Financial), banking through Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), and education through his purchase of Mapua Institute of Technology.

In addition to being a businessman, AY also served as a diplomat, having served as ambassador to Japan, Korea, China, and even the United Nations. Not to mention having served as special envoy for a number of diplomatic missions.

Alfonso Yuchengco’s legacy, both positive and negative, is very much visible with the presence of his businesses in different parts of the country. But perhaps what stands out the most as far as his legacy is concerned is the iconic building at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue: the RCBC Plaza. Continue reading

03/12/17

The Church That Gave Birth to a City: The St. Peter and Paul Church in Makati

While the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church is considered as Makati’s oldest structure, it was actually not in that location where the Makati that we know today was born. In fact, during the time the aforementioned church was built, Makati as a settlement had not been established yet and was still considered part of the thriving Santa Ana settlement which used to be the site of the pre-Hispanic Kingdom of Namayan.

The beginnings of Makati can be traced in 1608 (or 1607 as said in the marker), when the Jesuits received a donation of land from Captain Pedro de Brito, a military officer of the Spanish Crown who originally bought what was then a vast hilly swampland along the Pasig River. The Jesuits would proceed to build a Catholic church in the estate, right near the highest point of the newly acquired estate, hoping not only to evangelize the people to the Catholic faith but also to entice people to settle in what was then a barren landscape.

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03/5/17

The Grace of Makati’s Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church

Hidden behind the dominating Guadalupe billboards and the emerging skyscrapers in nearby Rockwell, not to mention the urban congestion that has befallen the area, lies Makati’s centuries old gem. It is considered to be the oldest Catholic church located in the city and has become a cherished Makati landmark. You can even see it represented in the city seal.

The Makati city seal; note the image of the church in the foreground

This has long been an awaited feature on the Urban Roamer and finally, we are going to roam this landmark up close. Of course, I am referring to Makati’s graceful landmark that is the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church.

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02/5/17

Jollibee Gets A Jolly New Look

What is there to say about Jollibee? It is pretty much a very well-known, beloved, and an omnipresent institution in the country that many people have talked about over the years. Jollibee has grown into a formidable force that even a global behemoth like McDonald’s could not conquer (And I just happened to have watched The Founder recently). Having occupied the topmost position in the country’s fastfood restaurant business for many years now, it would have been easy for Jollibee to be content in its position and become dull and stagnant, which would have jeopardized its long-held position.

Thus, it is a pleasant surprise to see Jollibee make some bold steps forward and reinvent itself is some way. This is apparent when the Urban Roamer checked out the newly renovated Jollibee branch in Glorietta 4, which is considered to be a flagship branch of this fastfood chain. Continue reading

12/7/16

Santuario de San Antonio: The Catholic Hub of Upscale Makati

December is upon us once more. A time yet again for yuletide cheers, festive weddings, and everything else in between. To kick off this most anticipated month of the year, the Urban Roamer features today a Catholic church that is not only a favorite venue for masses (especially as simbang gabi is approaching) and weddings but has grown to become a prominent contemporary landmark in the metropolis in its own right, shaping the landscape, at least in the part of the city where it is located.

Today, let us explore and learn a bit more about that Catholic realm at the heart of upscale Makati, the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park.

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