Cover As part of its anniversary campaign, the Makati Central Estate Association collaborated with Make It Makati to mount a #LookUp campaign last May, projecting videos and photos from the commemorative coffee table book on select spaces along Ayala Avenue

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Makati Central Estate Association (MACEA) has published a comprehensive book that retells the history of the country's first modern financial district. In this article, we share important tidbits of information about some of the iconic places of this enduring and thriving neighbourhood

With our many vibrant central business districts, one cannot ignore the fact that the blueprint for it was first crafted and mastered by the people behind the development of the Makati Central Business District (CBD). Through an exciting and informative walking tour led by media personality David Celdran, the Ayala Land Inc (ALI) guided members of the press and some history buffs to explore this financial district. This endeavour was brought about by the 50th anniversary of the Makati Central Estate Association Inc (MACEA) which has been celebrated through the publishing of a tome curated and edited by esteemed writer Lisa Guerrero Nakpil.

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Titled Makati, Fifty Years and Forward, the 300-page book essays how Makati thrived to become one of the country’s premier addresses, with images compiled from the works of legendary photographer Wig Tysmans, as well as those of Patrick Diokno and Paul Quiambao, and never-before-seen archival pictures of the Makati CBD throughout the years.

As someone who has had his entire professional career centred in Makati City, joining the tour was a breath of fresh air for me—enabling me to see Ayala Avenue and its two neighbouring villages with fresh eyes. I have known the history behind some of these iconic spots, but the tour has made me realise that it is in Makati indeed that “we make things happen”.

Ayala Triangle

At the heart of Makati CBD lies the verdant Ayala Triangle teeming with fire trees, eucalyptus trees, and many more. I remember back when Ayala Two and the all-new Mandarin Oriental Hotel did not yet exist, there used to be a small bamboo forest at the Paseo de Roxas side of the Triangle. Decades before that, the Ayala Triangle was known to be a football field named after the renowned Spanish-born Philippine footballer Sebastian Ugarte.

In the early 1980s after the death of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jnr, the Ayala Triangle (then known as Ugarte Field) hosted political protests against the Marcos regime and the neighbouring stretch of the Ayala Avenue was showered with shreds of the PLDT yellow pages. These so-called “yellow confetti rallies” served as a prequel to the bigger 1986 People Power at EDSA, which propelled the late strongman Ferdinand E Marcos and his family to leave the country.

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Today, Ayala Triangle is much quieter, except for the annual lights and sounds show during the Christmas season which attracts many-a-viewer. The park has also been rented by restaurants, until the COVID-19 pandemic. Also on that note, its open-air space was maximised by the Art Fair Philippines when it held its 2022 hybrid exhibitions.

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Aside from being the location of the iconic Tower One and Exchange Plaza, which is still called today by older generations the Philippine Stock Exchange, the Ayala Triangle is home to some of the most important works of celebrated Filipino artists.

In the lobby of Tower One, tenants, employees, and visitors could appreciate the oil on canvas masterpiece The Fishermen by Ang Kiukok, a sculptural piece by Impy Pilapil titled Into the Hereafter, and a wall art by Arturo Luz which is actually an abstraction of the name Zobel de Ayala.

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The Zobel de Ayala family helming Ayala Corporation, is known for their penchant for arts and culture. In fact, former CEO of Ayala Corporation Colonel Joseph McMicking and his wife Mercedes Zóbel de Ayala y Roxas founded the Ayala Foundation and, by extension, the Ayala Museum to partake in preserving and promoting Philippine arts and culture. Being the principal figures in the development of the Makati CBD and the whole of the Ayala Corporation, the lovely couple were immortalised through a weathered steel memorial with light and waterworks in the courtyard of Ayala Triangle. The text description inscribed in its plaque writes, “This memorial honours their contributions to uplift the Filipino people and nation, in the hope that their legacy continues to inspire present and future generations.”

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The Makati Avenue-facing side of the Ayala Triangle is known for the award-winning restaurant Blackbird by the renowned chef Colin Mackay. The historic building where it is located used to be the Nielson Tower, a former air control tower of the country’s first commercial airport. This explains why Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue, and Paseo de Roxas are massive in size compared to other streets in the city—all because they used to be airstrips. Blackbird honours this heritage by offering eclectic menus inspired by the aviation history of the building.

Going back to our starting point earlier of the Ayala Triangle, one would find the towering bronze figure of Ninoy Aquino by sculptor Peter de Guzman at the intersection of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas. It serves as a reminder of the huge role this historic avenue and triangular park have played in the 1980s and a tribute to the late senator and hero who fought and died for the country’s restoration of democracy.

See also: Journalist Teddy Benigno Writes About Ninoy Aquino's Life, Patriotism, and Sacrifice for the Philippines

Legazpi Village

Coming from EDSA, the left side of Ayala Avenue holds Legazpi Village. Often considered a sanctuary in the middle of the city, the village has its unique charm because of its tree-lined streets brimming with hip and unique dining concepts, parks, art spaces, as well as residential and commercial buildings. During the COVID-19 pandemic quarantines, the restaurant owners have been allowed by MACEA to serve dining patrons on the streets, mimicking the street parties in Barcelona, Paris, and other major cities.

Legazpi Village, named after the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, is frequented by bikers, joggers, and dog walkers, most especially the Legazpi Active Park and its serene counterpart Washington SyCip Park. Situated right beside each other, the parks feature endemic tropical trees and plants, benches, tiled walkways, jogging paths, and washrooms. The Washington SyCip Park which was named after a prominent figure in the country’s economic history has a Japanese garden and gazebos donated by the late business tycoon’s company. Meanwhile, Legazpi Active Park boasts a children’s playground beloved by people of all ages.

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Salcedo Village

Named after Juan and Felipe de Salcedo—the conquistadors who joined Legazpi’s expedition to the Indies and the Pacific which led to the colonisation of the Philippines in 1565—Salcedo Village is situated across Legazpi Village and is home to busier commercial and residential spaces. One of its landmarks is the Jaime C Velasquez Park, named after Ayala Corporation’s former director and one of the chief implementors of the development of the famed CBD, is home to the annual outdoor visual fair Art in the Park and the weekly Salcedo Sunday Market. Both Legazpi and Salcedo Sunday Markets are opportunities for residents to find fresh, organic produce and crafts as well as homemade local and international food.

Much like its neighbouring village, the Salcedo Village is also home to longstanding dining concepts, bars, and more.

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Ayala Avenue

A major thoroughfare, Ayala Avenue is not only one of the busiest roads in the metro but is also a canvas of layers of time as seen through architecture. From the brutalist buildings by National Artist Leandro Locsin to more modern edifices by MACEA chairman and president William V Coscolluela, up to the soon-to-rise state-of-the-art skyscrapers, the Ayala Avenue is an architect’s reference for his or her thesis.

From Gil Puyat Avenue, it’s easy to spot RCBC Plaza which houses the Carlos P Romulo Auditorium and the Yuchengco Museum. There’s the LEED-certified Ayala North Exchange on the corner of Salcedo Street, which is turning into a creative hub that has its very own green wall that serves as natural air filters. On the corner of Paseo de Roxas prominently stands the iconic Insular Life building, the country's first modern skyscraper, which was built in 1962 by the renowned architect Cesar Concio. Upon reaching Makati Avenue, commuters can see The Peninsula Manila hotel and its majestic fountain. Then, there’s the Apartment Ridge, home to the first condominiums in Makati. And finally at the corner of Ayala Avenue and EDSA, there stands One Ayala that's being developed to offer office towers, hotel and serviced apartments, retail spaces, and Makati’s future transport hub—all connected to the Ayala Center, a major commercial space covering shopping malls like Glorietta and Greenbelt, department stores, and luxury hotels.

Ayala Museum

Nearby Ayala Center, which is teeming with high-end fashion luxury brands, malls, and other lifestyle stores, is the Ayala Museum. This renowned museum houses collections of Philippine history and iconography, paintings by Filipino masters Juan Luna and Fernando Zóbel de Ayala y Montojo, as well as artefacts that give a glimpse of precolonial Filipinos’ way of life. Now that it has reopened after its two-year hiatus, it features a digital gallery in the lobby which enables visitors to explore the collections in the museum and have an interactive experience of art and history.

Indeed, Makati CBD is more than just a workplace for most Metro Manila residents who traverse EDSA and Buendia. It offers a one-of-a-kind urban experience that was masterfully planned more than 50 years ago when it was still an idle grassland. From being known as Hacienda de San Pedro de Macati, its transformation over the years would never be possible without visionaries like McMicking, Velasquez, and the Zóbel families. But more importantly, the commitment of the current business leaders helped Makati to take its shape and form today. Quoting from the commemorative book, Ayala Corporation's chairman emeritus Jaime Zóbel de Ayala wrote, “Anticipation of the future is based on the past—and on the present. The elements of yesterday serve as the foundation of today and influence the direction of tomorrow.”


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