8th-generation Ayalas lead 190th-year celebration of PH’s oldest conglomerate

This generation is led by Mariana Zobel de Ayala, daughter of Ayala Corp. chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto.

Mariana, her younger brother Jaime Alfonso, and their cousin Jaime Urquijo hosted the Ayala Group’s annual media night at Dusit Thani Manila last Friday, Feb. 16—the first since the pandemic gripped the world in 2020. 

“Ayala” is a household name in the Philippines, thanks to the ubiquity of their businesses—from malls to real estate, banking to infrastructure, telco to water, and many other things in between.

Photo from the Ayala Corporation website

But they have also etched their identity deeply in the Filipino psyche for one other thing—their longevity. In fact, this year, Ayala Corporation is celebrating its 190th anniversary—a rarity and outstanding milestone. 

More than being an opportunity for networking and mingling with members of the media, the event also shared the corporation’s milestones over 19 decades, in what can only be described as a love letter to the Filipino people, complete with a postage stamp as the logo, and signed in the best way possible—“Always, Ayala.” 

“Good things take time”

Despite the glitz and glamour that come with even mere mention of the name “Ayala,” like most businesses, the country’s oldest conglomerate traces its beginnings to humble roots

A short audio-visual presentation shown at the beginning of the program gave a summary of its milestones starting with its very first business, a distillery called Casa Roxas in 1834. Established by partners Domingo Roxas and Antonio de Ayala, it eventually produced the now-iconic Ginebra San Miguel. 

In the same year, Botica Zobel was opened in Intramuros in response to the faster transmission of communicable diseases due to Manila’s ballooning population.

Botica Zobel. Screenshot from the “Enduring Legacies” video
from Ayala Corp.’s website

More than a decade later, in 1851, the firm established El Banco Español Filipino de Isabel II, the first bank in the archipelago and the precursor of the Bank of the Philippine Islands or BPI.

El Banco Español Filipino. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Exactly three decades later, in 1881, Jacobo Zobel y Zangroniz introduced Tramcars to the metro, the country’s first public mass transportation system.

In 1910, Ayala invested in Insular Life before it established its own insurance companies. 

It was in 1948 when Col. Joseph McMicking, together with Don Alfonso Zobel de Ayala, Mercedes McMicking, and Col. James Velasquez, created the Ayala Master Plan, the blueprint which turned the grasslands that was Hacienda Makati to what we now know as the Makati central business district. 

A streetcar in 1881. Screenshot from the “Enduring Legacies” video
from Ayala Corp.’s website
Hacienda Makati. Screenshot from the “Enduring Legacies” video from
Ayala Corp.’s website

A little over two decades later, in 1970, Ayala invested in Globe-Mackay, its first foray into telecommunications, and forged a partnership with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation. It was this decade that ushered in a more rapid era of growth for the Ayala-led conglomerate. 

In 1987, 153 years after Casa Roxas was established, Ayala Corporation became a publicly-listed company.

And like all good things, success for the Ayalas, took its sweet time.

Great things need people with purpose

Screenshot from the “Enduring Legacies” video from Ayala Corp.’s website

Almost two centuries later, Ayala Corporation is now one of the Philippines’ largest and most diversified conglomerates. It has become more than a group of businesses—it has transformed industries and broken ground for innovations.

More importantly, it continues to uplift lives and contribute to nation-building. Because as said in the same AVP: “Great things need more than time. They need people with purpose.”

For the past 189 years (as said video was released last year), it continued, “meaningful things have been built by people who believed in the greater good.”

With this, Ayala goes beyond investing in businesses, it also invests in people, believing that just like those who came before them, they are bound to do great things. 

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation. Screenshot from the “Enduring Legacies” video from Ayala Corp.’s website

And great things Ayala and its people have done over the years. They now boast a meaningful presence in real estate, banking, digital solutions, and power. It likewise has a growing presence in healthcare and logistics, as well as investments in industrial technologies, water, education, and technology ventures. 

At its very heart is its social responsibility arm, Ayala Foundation, which focuses on making communities productive, creative, self-reliant, and proud to be Filipino.

Since 1834, Ayala aims to meet the Filipinos’ evolving demands by providing practical solutions that balance quality and affordability. It has strived to fulfill its purpose of building businesses that enable people to thrive.

As always, Ayala Corporation keeps true to its slogan: “For the greater good.”

A night to remember

The Ayala Group’s Media Night last Feb. 16 was a “thank you” gesture from the Ayalas to members of the press. Photos by Johanna L. Añes-de la Cruz

The Ayala Group’s Media Night was exactly what the event is called. It was a “thank you” gesture from the Ayalas to members of the press.

There were no speeches, no special announcements, no press kits, just one night of good food and drinks, great music courtesy of Ogie Alcasid and Highway 54 band, and fun prizes.

The eighth-generation Ayalas led by Jaime Urquijo and siblings Jaime Alfonso and Mariana welcomed members of the media to the event.

Very briefly at the start of the program, the eight-generation Ayalas were called onstage, not to deliver a formal speech, but to briefly welcome everyone to the event—thanking the guests not once, but twice, for coming despite being a post-V-day Friday night. 

To the uninitiated, this generation is led by Mariana, daughter of chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto, who is now the executive director of Ayala Corp., senior vice president of Leasing and Hospitality at Ayala Land Inc., director of BPI Asset Management and Trust Corp., among other key positions. 

Then there’s Mariana’s younger brother Jaime Alfonso, who is the CEO of AC Motors, which distributes brands such as Honda, Volkswagen, Isuzu, Kia, Maxus, KTM, and Husqvarna; and heads Globe’s Business Development and Digital Innovation. He is also a director at ACEN, Ayala Land Logistics Corp., BPI Capital Corp., among others.

Their cousin Jaime Urquijo, meanwhile, is the chief sustainability and risk officer of Ayala Corp., a director at BPI and AC Industrial Technology Holdings Inc., also among other positions. Urquijo is the only son of Bea Zobel Jr., daughter of Don Jaime and Bea Zobel.

I have to admit that I was in awe of being in the younger Ayalas’ presence, so it was such a joy to see them that night shedding off their usual formal personas in favor of being relaxed and carefree hosts. 

Mariana, Jaime Alfonso, and Jaime danced with the journalists and photographers, played an ultra-competitive game of Media Survey Says (inspired by Family Feud), and sang along to Ogie’s songs (Mariana seems to know Nandito Ako’s lyrics by heart!).

Toward the end of the program, they still found the energy to dance to the songs played by one of Metro Manila’s top show bands, Highway 54.

It was, indeed, a night to remember.  

But it was also a night that inspired each guest to do as the Ayalas have done so for the past 190 years—always for the greater good.

The new lifestyle.