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

08/1/16

Makati’s Cultural Soul: A Visit To The Ayala Museum

Whenever we hear about Makati and the Makati Central Business District (CBD), we usually associate it with the tall buildings, the swanky hotels, and the classy shopping malls. But in the midst of this modern center of commerce lies a cultural soul of the business district that has managed to thrive to be a landmark in its own right and helped make this part of the metropolis more than just a business hub but a cultural hub as well. Of course, we are talking about the Ayala Museum, one the most well-known museums in the metropolis and the country as a whole.

And as Ayala Museum marks its 50th birthday in 2017, the Urban Roamer invites you to roam this museum as we learn the history and the heritage preserved in this storied structure. Continue reading

01/25/16

Starbucks at 6750 Ayala Avenue: Where the Modern Filipino Coffee Shop Experience Began

Filipinos love coffee, there is no doubt about that. Traditionally though, Filipinos are not really that fancy coffee drinkers. Just a simple cup of coffee bought at the sari-sari store, with perhaps some creamer and sugar would do. There are also the beloved regional blends like the kapeng barako of Batangas or the Philippine Civet Coffee or kapeng alamid which is sourced from the droppings (AKA, uhm…poop) of wild Philippine civets which also happens to be the most rare and expensive variety.

In recent years however, Filipinos have come to appreciate the more “sophisticated” varieties of coffee like the cafe lattes, cappuccinos, frappes, etc. And we can all thank/blame (depending  on your perspective) one establishment for this change: Starbucks. Today on the Urban Roamer, we shall be checking out where it all began as we visit the first Starbucks branch in the Philippines.

Continue reading

12/26/15

A Farewell to Hotel InterContinental

As we in the metropolis are still having a Christmas hangover while looking forward to the New Year, unfortunately one beloved landmark in the city will bade farewell along with 2015 with the Hotel InterContinental Manila having its final day of operations on New Year’s Eve and its New Year’s Eve countdown to be held there being the last event to be held in this storied hotel.

The Hotel InterContinental Manila has been pretty much a part of the cityscape of the Makati Central Business District (CBD) and the greater metropolis of Manila for over 46 years. While the hotel may not be as iconic as the Manila Hotel or The Peninsula Manila, it has a unique charm of its own that has been remembered fondly by guests and visitors who have stayed and/or visited over those years. Continue reading

09/10/15

The Story of Ayala Triangle: Center of a Rising Business District

As the airport operations at Nielson Field have closed down by the 1950s, around the same time, plans were being made to convert the Zobel de Ayala-owned hacienda (where the airfield is located) into a modern business district, giving birth to the Makati Central Business District. As structures began to sprout left and right, the old airfield which became a triangular open space found itself in the middle of all this development.

However, it took a while for any development to be seen in the area. Apart from the Nielson Tower, the rest of the triangular space was pretty much a barren open space which sometimes was used as a football field. That football field evemtually became known as Ugarte Field, named after Sebastian Ugarte, a legendary figure in Philippine football. (and by the way, his family is related to the Zobel de Ayala, Aboitiz, and a number of Spanish mestizo families in the country)

But it would not be long for the Zobel de Ayala conglomerate to establish their presence in this piece of land, kicking off what would be a long association they would have with this triangular space. Continue reading