A.M. Shorts

A.M. Shorts: Michel Apartments

The Michel Apartments at its splendor. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

Long before the rise of multi-storey residential apartments in post-war Manila such as in Makati, there were already numerous apartments that were as elegant, if not, more elegant, than those of today's, in pre-war Manila. Manila, being the capital of a prosperous Philippine Islands, was once home to many expatriates of different nationalities, such as Spanish, American, British, and German. And within the confines of the modern residential section of Ermita and Malate lies the Michel Apartments, one of the city's top residential apartment.

The Michel Apartments was an art-deco, mid-rise apartment building designed by Francis 'Cheri' Mandelbaum, whose other work was the Rosaria Apartments nearby. Mandelbaum was an American architect trained in Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He also spent some time in the Philippines, coming to the islands in 1904 to work in the Bureau of Public Works with William Parsons, urban planner and architect of the Paco Station of the Philippine National Railways. Also, he worked as a professor of architecture at the University of Santo Tomás in Manila. 


At some time, the Michel Apartments was the tallest apartment building in the City of Manila. 


The Michel Apartments lay in ruins after the liberation of the city in 1945. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The Michel Apartments stand nine storeys high on a 1730-square meter lot along Calle A. Mabini in Malate, the residential section of the city where many of the country's pillars in social, economic, and political institutions resided. The Michel was commissioned by Don Pedro Sy-Quia y Encarnacion, a scion of the old and landed Sy-Quia family from the north. The Michel was said to be named after his wife, Doña Asuncion Michels de Champourcin y Ventura, a mestizo from Pampanga.

This year, 2014, the Michel Apartments was hounded with a demolition permit, despite of it being a protected structure under law. The demolition of the Michel Apartments was stopped by heritage conservation activists and citizens alike through the "cease-and-desist order" from the court. But, the demolition of the Michel had already started when the court ruling came out, so it would be of no use.

Destruction of heritage structures should be given the highest priority, as physical heritage is rapidly declining because of irresponsible governance of local leaders. If the government continues to act in a way like they do not give importance to the country's heritage, then these structures will be prey to money-hungry developers.



A.M. Shorts: Admiral Apartments

The Admiral Apartments back in the day, photo probably taken after the war. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/John Harper

The grandeur of pre-war Manila makes people of today reminisce about the past, the past that has been prosperous and plentiful. Manila, being the finest city in the Orient proves its stately grandeur through the representation of the city's finest homes, shops, and imposing structures. Sadly, many of the structures that Manila boasts and had boasted is now being turned into fine pieces of powder as they are being demolished to pave way for the so-called "progress".

Along the scenic Dewey Boulevard, where the pride of the City of Manila, the Manila Bay, is located, there were numerous stately homes and apartments that stood in front of its glowing waters. One of them is the Admiral, located at the corner of Dewey Boulevard and Cortabitarte. The Admiral Apartments had been home to numerous historical figures, both local and global, and had been a witness to the gruesome days of the Second World War.

Admiral Apartments during the post-war years. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The Admiral Apartments along Dewey Boulevard, now Róxas Boulevard, was a work of the eminent Fernando H. Ocampo, whose other works include the Calvo Building along Escolta, Angela Apartments in Malate, and the post-war rehabilitation of the Manila Cathedral. Built in 1938 and completed in 1939, the Admiral Apartments was commissioned by Don Salvador Araneta Zaragoza and his spouse, Doña Victoria López de Araneta.

Salvador Araneta Zaragoza and Doña Victoria López de Araneta. 

The Admiral Apartments, after its opening in the late 1930s, was one of the tallest residential building in the city, with eight storeys high living quarters. Because of its height, the Admiral became the focal point of sailors and ships anchoring in Manila Bay. 

Modern-day Admiral Apartments-turned hotel. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

According to Manila society legends, the Admiral was conceived by Doña Victoria's mother, Doña Ana López Ledesma. It was said that Doña Ana was responsible for financing the construction of the Admiral to please and impress the Aranetas, specifically Don Salvador's father Don Gregorio Araneta Soriano, because it has been told that Don Salvador had married Doña Victoria without their knowledge.

The Admiral was designed in the art-deco style, designed by the eminent Fernando H. Ocampo. According to an architectural historian, he described the Admiral of having "an air of quiet elegance with definite Spanish touches in the design of its façade. The apartments were pleasant spacious, airy, and bright rooms. The Spanish feeling became more pronounced in the reception room that opened directly to a side street. Both the furniture and the metal chandeliers reflected a Spanish Gothic style, rather forbidding in its formality." (excerpts from a PowerPoint presentation by Isidra Reyes. Retrieved from Manila Nostalgia)

The features of the Admiral's interiors, such as the main dining halls, were designed with different themes and motifs. "The main dining room, called the Malayan Court, was so-called due to the strong Malayan motif of its design and an imposing mural painting by Antonio Dumlao. The Spanish Room was a reception room while a small dining room called the Blue Room was done in royal blue, old rose, crystal, and silver. A cocktail lounge called the Coconut Grove was decorated with a coconut trees with green light bulbs as fruits, inspired by the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles." (excerpts from a PowerPoint presentation by Isidra Reyes. Retrieved from Manila Nostalgia)

During the war, the couple's own home, the Victoneta Iwas seized by the Japanese and made it their headquarters. So, the couple and their family moved to the Admiral to seek refuge, along with other members of the López-Araneta families. It has been said that Doña Victoria personally did the washing of the dirty linens and taking phone calls as the Admiral Apartments was understaffed. In the last days of the war, the Japanese took control of the Admiral Apartments. With that, the Araneta couple moved out of the Admiral and sought refuge in Baguio along with other members of the López-Araneta family. 

The Admiral Apartments (top center), during the liberation of Manila in 1945.Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Andi Desideri 

The battle for the liberation of the City of Manila left most of the city in ruins. The Admiral Apartments was not severely damaged in the fight for the recapture of the Philippine capital. Shortly before the capitulation of the Japanese forces in the Philippines, top commanders of Allied nations in the Pacific stayed in the Admiral Apartments. The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army Douglas MacArthur has made the Admiral his temporary home after his home in nearby Manila Hotel was bombed out during the liberation. The British supreme commander, The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, formerly Prince Louis of Battenberg, uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, also stayed in the Admiral Apartments.

Construction workers demolish the Admiral Apartments. Ⓒ GMA News/Danny Pata

This year, in 2014, news regarding the Admiral Apartments sparked when it was reported that it is being demolished to pave way for a new development, the Admiral Hotel by Anchor Land Holdings. Petitions have been made throughout social media by heritage conservation activists and ordinary citizens alike, saying that the capital city of Manila has already had too much "massacre" of heritage buildings. The petition for the stopping of the demolition had reached the Manila City Hall, but took a blind eye on the issue. So, the developer, Anchor Land Holdings, continued the demolition, much to the disappointment and frustrations of heritage conservationists.

The year 2014 has already been a roller-coaster ride for Philippine heritage. No concrete plans and actions have been laid out by the government for the protection of heritage structures. As long as there are no concrete and stricter laws regarding the destruction of heritage structures, they will fall prey to greedy developers whose aim is to destroy the country's physical heritage. 


A.M. Shorts: First City National Bank Building


A faithful restoration being made at the First City National Bank Building, now known as the Juan Luna E-Services Building. © Interaksyon

Manila, capital of the Philippines for more than five hundred (500) years, is the seat of the country's political, educational, financial, and religious power. It's status as the country's primate city have earned the reputation of being the 'Most Beautiful City in the Far East' and as the 'Paris of Asia', but all these monikers were taken away after the city was greatly reduced into rubble during the dying days of the Second World War. Almost seventy years have past, and the city is still trying to regain its status as the finest city in the East. Here and there, new developments have been sprucing up, not to mention the priceless aspect called heritage. 

The city was once a lively city, with its streets lined with shops and department stores, theaters, banks, and social clubs. In one of these streets, a building called the First City National Bank stood, and still is, standing proudly along the banks of the Pasig River.

Construction of the First City National Bank in the early 1920s. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The First City National Bank Building is a five-storey office building located along the corner of Calle Juan Luna, formerly Calle Anloague, and Muelle de la Industria in Binondo. One prominent building also stands along the thoroughfare which is the El Hogar Filipino Building. The building, a joint project between the International Banking Corporation and the Pacific Commercial Company, sits on a 1,800 square meter lot and is designed by the architectural firm Murphy, McGill, and Hamlin of New York in the beaux-arts style of architecture. Its design is said to be originated from the management of the International Banking Corporation, with its design coming from the trademark bank design of the company in other overseas branches. 

First City National Bank, viewed from the banks of the Pasig River. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

According to University of the Philippines' Prof. Gerard Lico's book entitled 'Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines', it is stated that the First City National Bank's design was a prototype of the other overseas bank branches.

"The bank’s prototype was made up of a row of colossal columns in antis, which was faithfully reproduced for its Manila headquarters. The ground floor was fully rusticated to effect a textured finish. This floor had arched openings with fanlights emphasized by stones forming the arch. The main doors were adorned with lintels resting on consoles. Above the ground floor were six three-storey high, engaged Ionic columns, ending in an entablature topped by a cornice. These six columns dominating the south and west facades were, in turn, flanked by a pair of pilasters on both fronts. The fifth floor was slightly indented and also topped by an entablature crowned by strip of anthemion." (excerpt from Arkitekturang Filipino: A History of Architecture and Urbanism in the Philippines)

The First City National Bank Building in the 1960s. 

The First City National Bank Building survived the horrors of the Battle of Manila in 1945. It was one of the few buildings left almost intact. During the post war years, the building was briefly used as the office of Ayala Life-FGU until they completely moved out to transfer to Makati. 

Recently, an interest on the First City National Bank Building was shown after it was bought by a business process outsourcing company to be converted into a call center. The building was renamed as the Juan Luna E-Services Building and is still under restoration. As of this year 2014, the restoration of the building is almost complete and will soon be ready to be leased to its new occupants.

The new Juan Luna E-Services Building currently under careful resotration. © Urban Roamer


A.M. Shorts: La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory


The Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory in Binondo. © Arkitekturang Filipino via Pinterest

Pre-war Manila was a haven for architectural beauty. Structures dating from the 16th century Spanish architecture up to the 20th century American style architecture, Manila had it all. The city's numerous edifices made it as the 'Paris of Asia', and the 'Most Beautiful City in the Far East'. But all that monikers were taken away when the city was wiped out during the dying days of World War II. Since then, Manila has never regained its status as the finest city in the Orient.

On the northern part of the city lies Binondo, considered as the city's business district and home to the world's oldest Chinatown. One of the most imposing structures one can find during the pre-war years was located in this part of the city, the La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory.

Two imposing structures adorn the Plaza Calderón de la Barca, the Hotel de Oriente (left), and the La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory (right). © Lougopal.com/Manila Nostalgia 

The La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory was a three-storey, Neo-Mudéjar structure located along on the right of Binondo Church along the Plaza Calderón de la Barca. Like its neighbor, the Hotel de Oriente, the La Insular was also designed by Spanish architect Juan José Hervas Arizmendi, under the command of its owners, Don Joaquín Santamarina and Don Luis Elizalde. 

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]vda.de[husband's family name].

                                                             
Juan José Hervas Arizmendi, architect of the imposing La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory. © Manila Nostalgia/Paulo Rubio

The La Insular was established sometime in the 1880s after the abolition of the tobacco monopoly by the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines. Its owners, Don Joaquín Santamarina, Don Luis Elizalde, and their associates formed the La Insular Tobacco as a result. 

 La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory. Photo taken from the Plaza Calderón de la Barca in front of the Hotel de Oriente. The Binondo Church can also be seen in the background. © Skyscrapercity.com via Manila Nostalgia

One of the most distinguishing features of the La Insular was its neo-mudéjar style of architecture. Only a few structures in the city were designed in the neo-mudéjar style, one being the former Augustinian Provincial House in Intramuros. The La Insular stood out from the rest of the structures located along the plaza due to its tall archways and projecting balconies, which were adorned with intricate lampposts. In its interior, the La Insular sported a broad staircase and a courtyard.

A wiped-out Manila in aerial view. The La Insular`s ruins is nowhere to be found as it was completely consumed by fire in 1944. © Flickr/John Tewell via Skyscrapercity.com 

In 1944, a fire destroyed the beautiful La Insular cigarette factory. It was never again rebuilt due to the liberation of Manila in 1945. 

A.M. Shorts: Salvador Araneta and Victoria López Residence


'Victoneta I', the Salvador Araneta and Victoria López residence in Mandaluyong. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Derrick Manas

Manila's pre-war homes were some of the most beautiful in the Far East, for the city was host to landed families of Spanish, Chinese, and American descents. These stately homes got an upper hand location-wise, in which some of the houses were built either in the Spanish enclave of San Miguel or at the new American area of Ermita. But this is not always the case. Some families actually chose to build their homes outside of the city, where one can feel the cool breeze of the wind. An example of this was in Mandaluyong, a town not far from Manila, where the 'Victoneta' was built.

The 'Victoneta I', owned by the aristocratic couple Salvador Araneta and Victoria López de Araneta, was one of the stately homes built outside the city. Built in 1933 by three architects, namely Domingo Lerma, and the greats Juan Arellano and Andrés Luna de San Pedro, the Victoneta won the title 'Most Beautiful Home of 1933' because of Doña Victoria's luxurious taste. The house boasts a number of feats: the Victoneta had thirty-three rooms, making it one of the largest houses in the city, it had a private chapel with its own entrance, and was designed by three architects in different phases because of its massive size.

Doña Victoria López and Don Salvador Araneta. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes 

Don Salvador Araneta Zaragoza is the son of Don Gregorio Araneta Soriano. Both are members of the illustrious Spanish-Filipino Araneta family, whose roots hail from Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country of Spain. Doña Victoria López was a member of the López sugar barons of Iloilo, where her first cousin Don Eugenio López Hofileña was one of the country's richest men during the post-war years.

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]vda.de[husband's family name].

One of Victoneta's many patios and gardens. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

Victoneta's chapel entrance. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

As stated earlier, the Victoneta was built in 1933 by architects Domingo Lerma, Juan Arellano and Andrés Luna de San Pedro using the Hispano-Moresque-Mediterranean styles of architecture. Because of its grandeur, it won the title 'Most Beautiful Home of 1933'. Located on a 17,000 square meter property in Mandaluyong, Victoneta was a portmanteau of the names Victoria and Araneta, the names of the house owners. One of Victoneta's features was the chapel. The chapel had intricate seats whose interiors were designed by the great Andrés Luna de San Pedro. 

Chapel interiors of the Victoneta designed by Andrés Luna de San Pedro. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes 


An overview of the grand sala© Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The Victoneta had a lot of rooms because of Doña Victoria López de Araneta's tastes. The house had a very large sala, or living room, where the Aranetas had the great Fernando Amorsolo commission a painting for them entitled 'The First Baptism in the Philippines'. Unfortunately, the painting, along with the rest of the house, were destroyed during the liberation of Manila in 1945. 

One of the bedrooms at VictonetaⒸ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

Victoneta's grand sala. A massive painting commissioned to Fernando Amorsolo hangs on its walls. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The war years were a time of hardship for the Araneta couple. It has been said that the Japanese had been eyeing the house because of its sprawling property. The Aranetas vacated the house after it was confiscated by the Japanese, and left Manila for Baguio to be with the other Araneta and López family members. In 1945, the Victoneta was used as a refugee center where around seventy civilians were interred. As the combined Filipino and American forces were closing in to Manila, the Japanese had a bomb planted inside the chapel. Unfortunately, the bomb went off after a Filipino refugee accidentally detonated it. All of the refugees inside were instantly killed.  

Victoneta's dining area. © Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

 Victoneta's chapel lay in ruins after the liberation of Manila in 1945. Ⓒ Isidra Reyes/Edwina Litton Ortigas

After the war, Don Salvador and Doña Victoria had decided not to rebuild the Victoneta, due to the reason that many lives were killed inside. Instead, the Araneta couple abandoned the property and relocated to Malabon, where another house also named Victoneta stood. 


The original Victoneta just laid in ruins for decades after 1945. The ruins were finally demolished recently.

A.M. Shorts: E.A. Perkins Residence

 'El Nido', the Eugene Arthur Perkins residence along Dewey Boulevard in Ermita. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Lou Gopal

In pre-war Manila, houses of illustrious families were designed by well-known architects according to their elegant tastes. Their homes were either designed in the renaissance, art-deco, beaux-arts, or the traditional Filipino bahay na bato style. But one house stood out among the rest, and this was the El Nido, the residence of Eugene Arthur 'E.A.' Perkins, and his wife Idonah Slade. The house and the family became the center of intrigue among Manila's high society because of domestic quarrels between Eugene and Idonah.

The owner of the house, E.A. Perkins, was the first American envoy to the Royal Court of Siam (Thailand's counterpart of the Royal Court of St. James). Born in Bangkok in 1888, he went to Manila and became a partner of the law firm DeWitt, Perkins, and Brady. In 1935, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile's father Alfonso Ponce Enrile joined the firm and was renamed DeWitt, Perkins, Brady, and Ponce Enrile. Their law firm was located in Edificio Soriano (formerly as the Geronimo de los Reyes Building) in Plaza Cervantes. 

E.A. Perkins (right), checking the shipment of Lepanto gold with Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank manager W. Webster (right) in 1949. Ⓒ Lougopal.com/Manila Nostalgia

The Perkins residence was designed by the great Andrés Luna de San Pedro in the Moorish Mediterranean style. The house, which faces the Manila Bay, was located in the residential section of Ermita, where homes of prominent Filipino and expatriate families once stood. As their home stood out among the rest, it won the title of The 'Most Beautiful Home of 1928', a year before the Zóbels won theirs a year later.

Dewey Boulevard and its environs in the 1920s. the El Nido was located at the corner of Dewey Boulevard and Calle Divisoria (now Salas St.). Ⓒ Lougopal.com/Manila Nostalgia

  The penthouse living room of the Perkins residence in Ermita. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

One of the rooms inside the El NidoⒸ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes 

When the Philippines became a commonwealth in 1935, the American governor-general had moved out of Malacañang Palace and was replaced by a High Commissioner (an equivalent of an ambassador). The High Commissioner was in need of his own residence. So, in 1937 when the newly-appointed High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt arrived in Manila, Attorney E.A. Perkins offered his El Nido to be McNutt's home until a permanent residence for the High Commissioner is finished. 

President Manuel L. Quezón (left) enjoying cigarettes with American High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt (right). Ⓒ Jweekly.com

In the 1950s, shortly before E.A. Perkins died, he sold his property. The new owner had the El Nido demolished and was replaced by an apartment known as the L&S Building, which was designed by Alfredo Luz. 

A.M. Shorts: Jacobo Zóbel and Ángela Olgado Residence 

'La Casona', Jacobo and  Ángela Zóbel's residence in Ermita. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The pre-war years showed elegant tastes in living the high life, that is, because, due to the growing alta sociedad of the country. Long before the five-star hotels mushroomed throughout the city of Manila, events are held at home. Because homes are to be well-maintained and designed, as it is to 'dress to impress', Philippine socialites' homes are at par of those homes overseas, such as those in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air in Los Angeles. 

One home stood out in the then-residential section of Ermita, the home of Don Jacobo Zóbel de Ayala and his wife, the beautiful Ángela Olgado, called 'La Casona'. 

Don Jacobo Zóbel de Ayala Roxas is the eldest son of pre-war industrialist and philanthropist Don Enrique Zóbel y de Ayala from his first wife, Consuelo Roxas  de Ayala de Zóbel. Don Jacobo is also the father of the late Don Enrique 'EZ' Zóbel Olgado, former Ayala Corporation chairman. Don Jacobo's wife, Doña Ángela Olgado Calvo de Zóbel was considered as one of the most beautiful women in the pre-war years. The Olgado clan has been in the Philippines for quite a while, marrying other Spanish-Filipino families such as Doña Ángela Olgado's sister Doña Pilar Olgado Calvo de Roxas, wife of former Casino Español de Manila president Don Eduardo Roxas Gargollo and mother of present Roxas & Company CEO Pedro Emilio Roxas Olgado.

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]vda.de[husband's family name].

     
TWO POWERHOUSES: Col. Jacobo Zóbel de Ayala Roxas (left), and his wife Doña Ángela Olgado Calvo de Zóbel (right). Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes

The house was located in the residential area of Ermita, though some sources, such as the Cornejo's Commonwealth Directory of the Philippines, states that Don Jacobo's home address is at Calle M.H. del Pilar in Malate. Moving on, the home was designed by Andrés Luna de San Pedro, who also designed his brother Alfonso's mansion along Dewey Boulevard.

One of the interesting features of the house is the use of awnings. Since the Philippines is a tropical country where it is hot and humid most of the year, it was a smart move to use striped awnings. Because of Doña Angelita's very elegant taste in design, their house was entitled as the 'Most Beautiful Home of 1929'.

Combat for the liberation of the city took place in 1945, which virtually wiped out 80 percent of the city's edifices. The war took a toll on the Zóbel de Ayala family as they were with no cash, though the family still has some assets under their control. To compensate what they have lost, the Zóbels sold their homes, which included the La Casona. The house of Col. Jake and Doña Ángelita was used as the British Embassy after the war. 

The La Casonaprobably taken after the war. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Isidra Reyes 

Sadly, the house has already been demolished, and we at A.M. hope that elegant pre-war houses should be under protection of the NCCA and NHCP. 

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]vda.de[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

A.M. Shorts: Laperal Mansion/Arlegui Guest House



 German diplomats and expatriates enjoy festivities at the former German consulate along Calle Arlegui in San Miguel, Manila. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Lou Gopal

This may be considered as one of the most beautiful yet controversial home in Manila. The Laperal Mansion, now the Arlgeui Guest House, sits along Calle Arlegui in San Miguel, only a few blocks from Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the Philippine president.

Before World War II broke out in the Philippines in 1941, the mansion served as the consulate of Nazi Germany. Yes, you heard it right, Hitler's Nazi Germany. Other sources say that before the mansion became the German chancellery, it was known as the Blair Mansion, named after an American military officer who lived in the property.

Japanese occupation came into the islands in 1942. During their three-year occupation, the house served as the residence of Speaker of the Assembly Benigno Aquino Sr., grandfather of current president Benigno 'BS' Aquino III. There are conflicting reports about the veracity of this story. 

The German Consulate in 1945 after the Battle of Manila. According to reports, all Germans inside the consulate were killed by the Japanese. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Meg Jmp

In 1945, the Battle of Manila brought destruction to the capital city. During the month-long battle, the Japanese massacred about 100,000 civilians, including the citizens of Japan's allies Germany and Italy. Reports say that all Germans who were sheltered in the consulate were massacred by the Japanese.

The German consulate in Manila, as seen in the side view. Note the two flags flying from the flagpole. The one visible is the flag of the pre-swastika Nazi Germany. Ⓒ Manila Nostalgia/Lou Gopal

After the war had ended, the house became the temporary home to the National Library. Also around this time, the Laperal family of Baguio purchased the mansion and lived in Arlegui until 1975, when the Marcos government, under the instructions of then-First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, confiscated the property, along with other adjacent properties due to 'security reasons'. Under the Marcos government, the mansion became the office of the National Economic and Development Authority. The mansion was also expanded during this time. 

1986 was the year when Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and his family were deposed as a result of the People Power Revolution. Pres. Marcos' successor, the late Pres. Corazon Aquino chose the mansion over the Malacañang. Pres. Fidel Ramos also chose to stay in Arlegui during his presidency.

Controversies hound the Laperal Mansion. Because the government illegaly confiscated the property during the Marcos presidency, there was a ruling in 2007 that the Laperals rightfully own the mansion. Although the national government recognizes the Laperals as the rightful owners of the mansion, the family no longer is interested with the property because of the traumatic experience they have encountered during the Martial Law years.

The Arlegui Mansion in 2013. Note that renovations took place during the Marcos presidency as the original house only had one tower. Ⓒ Wikipedia.org

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