Smooth sailing, Manila Yacht Clubâs 90th year

The Manila Yacht Club’s façade has not changed much in its 90 years (above). The yachts are a mainstay on the Manila Bay’s iconic view.

Smooth sailing, Manila Yacht Club’s 90th year
Ida Anita Q. Del Mundo (The Philippine Star) - July 15, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Manila Yacht Club (MYC) has been known to throw some memorable parties, but their celebration on July 22 promises to be the club’s biggest social event, according to Commodore Ildefonso Tronqued Jr. and his wife Mitzi. Rightfully so, for the MYC is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

“The Manila Yacht Club was the first Manila International Airport because during that time, there were no airports in the Philippines and the Americans took over in the 1900’s and they built the breakwater, so they were landing here with their seaplanes,” the commodore likes to start his story about the history of the MYC.

He goes on, the MYC was founded by James Rockwell, who also started the Manila Polo Club and the Manila Golf Club, two of the most exclusive clubs in the country today.

The MYC’s main mission is to promote sailing in the country. The MYC also holds regattas, the Manila-Boracay Race and the President’s Cup among other competitions. They have also participated in the SEA Games, Asian Games and have represented the country internationally. 

“It all started here together with the Philippine Sailing Association, backed up by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission,” says Tronqued.

The commodore adds that they have helped take teens and young adults off the streets of Manila and have given them training. Their sheer grit makes them perfect for learning how to sail – if they fall in the water, they just get right back up, says Tronqued. Some have gone on to join teams in the SEA Games or have sailed to places abroad as part of a crew.

Tronqued, who has been hanging out at the MYC since he was young, also has many fond memories of taking part in outreach projects and rescue operations.

The members of the MYC compose the 101st Squadron Philippine Coast Guard auxiliary. Through the squadron, members take part in activities such as environmental clean-ups and medical missions.

“I’ve always been into power boats since I was young – fast craft, speed boats,” shares Tronqued, who is clearly passionate about boating.

His interest was sparked when his aunt married an Italian who loved boating. “We used lousy boats! Sailboats made of wood,” he shares with a fond laugh.

He particularly enjoys taking out boats to remote areas where he could pursue his other hobby – hunting.

“Sometimes it can also be a nightmare,” Tronqued says of encountering serious waves out at sea. But cruising on a beautiful day makes it all worth it.

“I want to spend my whole life on the boat!” Tronqued exclaims when asked how much time he spends on his yacht.

Taking his passion further, Tronqued is also a boat builder. “If your job is your hobby, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he says, quoting the old adage. “My hobby is building boats, so I made it my job.”

It is his son Marco who has really transformed his father’s boat-making hobby into a big business, turning their property in Pililia, Rizal into a manufacturing facility. Tronqued Boats has crafted boats in all sizes and for different purposes, from luxury yachts to utility vessels. Even the gondolas at the Venice Grand Canal Mall in Taguig are made by Tronqued Boats.

Mitzi shares that their sons Marco and Marlon grew up at the MYC and share their father’s love for the sea. “We’re a water sports family,” she says.

“To put this club together for 90 years and to have it still going on is a big thing,” says the seven-term commodore. During previous terms, Tronqued has gone to great lengths to restore the physical appearance of the club. He put emphasis on preserving the original façade of the building, while updating the interiors.

Tronqued also helmed the campaign to get the MYC recognized as a national historic landmark, a recognition that is very important to the club. “They cannot take us out of here anymore!” says Tronqued.

The yacht club has survived a world war, martial law and dozens of natural disasters – and it is still standing.

“It still looks the same,” the commodore says proudly. It is his hope that the next generation of MYC members will take inspiration from their predecessors.

“During the war, they gave their part for the country. It’s a legacy that we should uphold all the time. I hope the next generation continues it,” he says.

The MYC continues to grow, with work being done to add more berths to be able to accommodate new boats and other construction projects.

Moving forward, Tronqued’s vision for the MYC is to take it beyond Manila. The club hopes to set up more yacht clubs all over the Philippines, including a new station that is being built in Maricaban, Batangas. As the primary recognized sailing club in the Philippines, the MYC also continues to foster goodwill and exchange camaraderie with fellow sailors all over the world.

It may not have always been smooth sailing, but the Manila Yacht Club has weathered many storms in its history and it will continue to go where the wind and waves take it.

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