Sunday, March 9, 2014

A.M. Shorts: Alfonso Zóbel and Carmen Pfitz Residence

The Alfonso Zóbel and Carmen Pfitz de Zóbel residence along Dewey Boulevard (now Roxas Boulevard) cor. Calle Padre Faura in Ermita. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The pre-war years was considered the golden age of Philippine social scene, before its rebirth in the 1950s to the 1960s, that is because most of Manila's alta sociedad actively participated in social activities such as dance, polo matches, parties, and more. The pre-war alta sociedad composed mostly of Filipino families that are of European descent, families such as the Zóbel de Ayalas, Roxases, Elizaldes, Nietos topped the social scene with their elegant tastes in clothing and houses.

The Alfonso Zóbel house featured in André de la Varre's travelogue entitled Manila: Queen of the Pacific Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Paulo Rubio

Alfonso Zóbel de Ayala Roxas is the son of famous pre-war industrialist and philanthropist Don Enrique Zóbel y de Ayala, and father of former Ayala Corporation chairman Jaime Zóbel de Ayala. Carmen Pfitz Herrero, on the other hand, is a member of the Pfitz clan of Spain and the Philippines. Her brother, Enrique Pfitz Herrero, became a member of the Ortigas family, marrying Doña María Luisa Ortigas de Ynchausti de Pfitz. Together with his wife, Carmen, the couple had built a grand mansion for their family. 

Note: Names are written in standard Spanish naming custom. Spanish names are written without the Filipino 'y'. So, for males (or single females), it would be [given name][paternal family name][maternal family name]. For married females, it would be [given name][paternal family name][maternal family name]de[husband's family name]. For widows, it would be [given name][paternal family name][maternal family name][husband's family name].

 Don Alfonso Zóbel de Ayala (left), with his son Jaime Zóbel de Ayala. Photo probably taken sometime in the 1950s. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Paulo Rubio             

The Zóbel de Ayala family portrait. From L-R standing: Da. Matilde Zóbel de Ayala de Albarracín Segura, D. Jacobo Zóbel de Ayala Roxas, D. Alfonso Zóbel de Ayala Roxas, Da. Carmen Pfitz Herrero de Zóbel de Ayala. L-R seated: Da. Angela Olgado Calvo de Zóbel de Ayala, Da. Fermina Montojo Torróntegui de Zóbel de Ayala, Da. Consuelo Zóbel de Ayala Montojo de Alger, Da. Gloria Zóbel de Ayala Montojo de Padilla, D. Enrique Zóbel de Ayala Olgado, Da. Maria Victoria Zóbel de Ayala Pfitz de Vallejo-Nájera, D. Enrique Zóbel y de Ayala (patriarch), D. Fernando Zóbel de Ayala Montojo, D. Joseph R. McMicking, Da. Mercedes Zóbel de Ayala Roxas de McMicking. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Paquito dela Cruz

The house, located along the scenic Dewey Boulevard corner Calle P. Faura in residential Ermita, was designed by the great Andrés Luna de San Pedro, son of the great painter-nationalist Juan Luna. The house had been designed in the French Renaissance style, which was the prevalent design of the houses of Manila's elite. The house had survived the devastating Battle of Manila in 1945, and after the war, Don Alfonso sold the house to compensate what they had lost during the war years. Their house became the offices of the French Embassy in Manila when the Zóbels moved to their new home in suburban Makati. The French Embassy soon vacated the house and moved to another location. Subsequently, the house became the branch of the Bank of Asia for a period of time.

 After the Bank of Asia vacated the mansion, art galleries were transferred to the mansion due to the renovation of the adjacent Tesoro's. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes
The Bank of Asia had vacated the mansion and art galleries from nearby Tesoro's occupied the property due to the renovation of the latter. Sadly, this mansion was not spared from the destruction of the wrecking ball. We at AM assume that the Zóbels had disposed of the property before it was demolished. The 1322 Golden Empire Tower now stands on this property. 

The Alfonso Zóbel mansion along Roxas Boulevard, probably taken sometime in the 1990s. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Paulo Rubio


  1. Where are the family of Alfonso? Where did they live? Are they still alive?

    1. Yes, the family of Don Alfonso and Doña Carmen are still very much alive and are very much involved in the shaping of Philippine society. Their son is the chairman emeritus of Ayala Corporation Jaime Zóbel de Ayala, who is married to Beatriz Miranda y Barcón de Zóbel de Ayala, or to those who know her simply as Bea Zóbel Sr. Don Alfonso’s grandchildren include the brothers Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zóbel de Ayala, and Honorary Philippine consul to Monaco Patricia “Patsy” Zóbel de Ayala Halffter.

  2. Juanito alfonso and carmela Isabella

  3. What year was this house built?