The entrepreneurs
ROSES & THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - July 10, 2010 - 12:00am

The Puente Colgante, completed in 1852 and a symbol of modernity in the country, was the first steel suspension bridge in Asia and was owned by Ynchausti y Compania. When the Americans occupied the Philippines beginning in 1898 they identified the two major companies in the Philippines: Ynchausti y Compania and Tabacalera. Their controlling interests spanned sugar, abaca, liquor, shipping, merchant endeavors, banking and even insurance. The role call of companies they founded or owned reads: Tanduay Distillery, La Carlota Sugar Central, Rizal Cement, Bank of the Philippine Islands, YCO Paints, Ynchausti Shipping to name a few.

Jose Joaquin de Ynchausti, who married here Isabelle Marquesa de Viademonte, was the founder of Ynchausti y Compania in 1854. Before passing in 1889 in Manila he laid the foundation for the pre-eminent conglomerate of the age. He left three children: Rafael Celeste de Ynchausti, Joaquin Jose de Ynchausti and Clotilde Mercedes de Ynchausti. Clotilde would marry Arturo Vidal Saenz. Joaquin married Dona Ana Romero Llama Lopez and had three children: Anita, Isabel and Manuel Maria de Ynchausti. While Rafael would marry Maria de la Consolacion Rico Medina and have two children Maria Angelina de Ynchausti and Maria de la Consolacion de Ynchausti.

Under the stewardship of the Joaquin and Rafael Ynchausti y Compania would only increase their influence. During the latter part of the 19th century they were one of the few domestic companies that stood toe-to-toe with the foreign (British and American particularly) trading and sugar firms, in Manila and Iloilo alike. In the early part of the 20th century, this would be the case yet again. By the 1920s Ynchausti y Compania had offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong, San Francisco and New York.

After the early passing of Joaquin and Rafael, stewardship of the firm was passed to Manuel M de Ynchausti (son of Joaquin). He would eventually choose to sell certain assets of the firm to other partners in Ynchausti y Compania. This is why Elizalde y Compania was only formed in 1935. While vacationing in Europe, Manuel with his wife and eldest son Antonio, born in their ancestral home next to Malate Church, were caught by the Spanish Civil War, then the outbreak of World War II in Europe. On his attempted return to the Philippines, he was caught in New York by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He would never to return to his homeland, the Philippines. When the War finally ended, he was too ill for the trip. He instead became instrumental in humanitarian works during WWII, helping support the resistance in France; while also supporting Basque refugees (especially children), the Basque government in exile, and preserving Basque culture. One of Manuel’s legacies in the Philippines was the voluntary disbursing of thousands of his family’s sugar land to the farmers in Negros in the 1920s.

The two daughters of Rafael would figure prominently. Angelina married Joseph McMicking Sr, then a well-connected gentleman in Manila. Their son Jose Rafael McMicking Ynchausti, a Filipino through and through, would marry Mercedes Zobel y Roxas. That marriage would figure quite importantly in the development of Makati and Philippine business. It is well known that Joe McMicking was the driving force (financially and intellectually) behind the growth of Ayala y Cia from the 1950s onward. He and his wife, until passing, maintained a controlling interest in the companies. He also became well known in Europe; conceptualizing and developing Sotogrande in Spain, the first luxury community of its type. One of their lasting humanitarian legacies in the Philippines was the Filipinas Foundation, today known as the Ayala Foundation. The other daughter Maria de la Consolacion would marry Dr. Ignacio R Ortigas, one of the founders of Ortigas y Compania. Ortigas y Compania is the driving force behind the development of Greenhills.

The economic impact of the Ynchausti family becomes readily apparent when studying the family tree and history. They were an entrepreneurial clan that also balanced humanitarian considerations. Their humanitarian legacy, as much as the economic, is something well-worth remembering for this historic Filipino family.

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