Forbes or Forbes Park is a private subdivision and gated community that was established in 1940’s in Makati.
Why Forbes Park in the tagalog land was named after an american governor-general is beyond my understanding except that the american government did have a very tight control over the lands that were besieged with claims and counterclaims.
The introduction and establishment of commonwealth government under the americans with a chinese-filipino meztiso as president after the time of aguinaldo, manuel quezon became the stooge leader whose preference was “a government run like hell rather than a government run heaven”.
So, anything could and can happen in a magdalo government, and so the political and governmental disarray continued with the republican form and we have a plush village named Forbes, with the youth, like jose rizal, another chinese mestizo, as the hope of a fatherland, pag-asa daw ng bayan..
This started a era of the lost cause for the elderly inhabitants, particular in luzon, as the importance of reverence and respect were all given to the youth of the land, forgetting all the indigenous heritage of the native inhabitants.
Old Manila in Quezon City as the elite place before Forbes Makati is comprehensibly understood because of the name Manila.
While Forbes park has McKinley (another american) Road and Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (formerly highway 54) to the northwest, Bonifacio Global City or Taguig to the east, the Maricaban Creek to the south and southeast, and Acacia Avenue/Dasmariñas Village to the west.
It is also easy to understand at least if the village was named after Carlos P. Romulo, a native tagalog who was the primary reason for the transformation and engineering of the tagalog noble lands into ownership by chinese meztisos and american capitalists, in connivance with the fellows quezon, ortigas and of course, with the magdalo government.
Ayala Corporation was the developer of Forbes Park which is home to Manila Golf and Country Club, Manila Polo Club and the elite of the country’s wealthiest families and prominent expatriates, including the ambassador of the United States and the ambassador of Kuwait.
The average of a home in this exclusive neighborhood was no less than five million dollars, and one can only imagine how much a home would cost now.
The Santuario de San Antonio, a Franciscan church, and San Antonio Plaza, a small commercial center, lie between North and South Forbes Park. Meanwhile, the Church of the Holy Trinity, an Anglican-Episcopal Pro-cathedral, is just across the street.
There was a time not too long ago when Forbes Park touted itself as the nation’s premier barrio, complete with a dashing lord and his finnish wife who was, incidentally, the very first woman to be adjudged the most beautiful in the universe.
Its most famous resident, Carlos P. Romulo, with a very big chunk of property in the village, could boast to instant name recognition everywhere because the Philippines still stood tall with the americans in United Nations circles at that time.
Was it the reason why carlos romulo is being considered as the perennial boy scout of the americans?
Long before the tireless Joe Concepcion gave Forbes Park its dour public face, Virgilio Hilario and Armi Kuusela, just by being their photogenic selves, ruled or seemed to reign over the magical place as the Philippines’ proud answers to Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly.
Shrewd real estate calculations were, of course, behind this dream principality, particularly, Joseph and Mercedes McMicking, the real moneybags behind today’s colossal Zobel de Ayala fortune.
It is no surprise that the holding company which runs what is now the Ayala empire is called Mermac and the annual visits of the widowed grand dame, long retired in splendor in Soto Grande, Spain, are awaited with bated breath.
Forbes Parks’ origins, in short, are lost in the mists of 1949 when Makati was just another hardscrabble hacienda on the cogonal edges of Pasay City.
To the prying minds of truth-seekers, the area was a part of the age-old land of tagalog nobles known in the ancient past as “lupang payatas”.
But through a document signed by one lady descendant by the name of Magdalena Pinga, all the noble lands were constituted as government-owned for the benefit of the tagalog natives, except the said area that was privately developed by the an american aristocracy at that time.
Reputed to be named after the Bostonian Governor-General who had struck a mutually beneficial relationship with the Ayala-Zobels, Forbes Park was an immediate hit among the Madrigals, Aranetas, Yulos, Lopezes and other elite families who, in effect, endowed their realtors with the status of a facto royal family.
Over time, most of those fabled pre-war mansions in Aviles, Ermita-Malate, New Manila and San Juan were abandoned or otherwise made secondary residences by plutocrats who built even grander the new epicenter of wealth and power way across town.
Forbes Park, it was believed, would be eternally safe not only from prying eyes but from the usual horrors of city life, namely traffic, squatters, pollution and all manner of visual and audio ugliness.
More and more, it became the place of ultimate arrival–where Filipinos who have accumulated enough money could move up to, there to invent aristocratic pasts, build so-called ancestral homes or indulge in La Dolce Vita style.
In those glory years, the society pages were not yet cluttered with boutique owners, restaurateurs, beauty queens and assorted climbers.
If the fabulous parties of Cecilia Araneta-Yulo were the talk of the Quezon period, the even glitzier happenings orchestrated by Luis Araneta and Chito Madrigal defined high society at its Caligula best.
One time, it would be Night in Venice and then Arabian Nights or some such fantasy which always required the most elaborate settings, costumes and jewelry.
So successful was Forbes Park that it become the model for a whole host of wannabe exclusive communities like Dasmarinas and Alabang.
A second tier of more affordable quarters were made available in nearby San Lorenzo, Bel-Air, Urdaneta–all owned and promoted to death by the same real estate geniuses.
It did not take long for those acacias on McKinley Road to start looking venerable enough to be described as “centuries-old,” much in the manner of their cousins in U.P. Diliman, also planted in the late 1940s, an area together with the ateneo which was also a part of the lupang payatas of the tagalog nobles.
Then, villages of the lawyer-patriarch of ortigas sprouted like mushrooms such as valle verde, greeenmeadows, conrintians, vista verde, and so on and so forth.
But Forbes Park still lived but on borrowed time.
During the Ramos administration, McKinley Road suddenly turned into a hopeless traffic corridor between two monster commercial centers– one owned by the Ayalas and the other, alas, by a consortium led by Metro-Pacific which, take note, outbid Ayala.
Call these conglomerates deadly rivals and Forbes Park where they are fated to clash with grave consequences for city and country.
Having turned into Makati’s version of Taft Avenue, McKinley Road has brought the cruel reality of irresponsible and greedy development to the doorsteps of the once-uncaring Forbes Park set.
Yes, sireee! there are no more exceptions to the madness of commercialization. You can no longer hide behind high walls and cry crocodile tears over those 60-year-old trees.
Pollution, greed and crime are upon you as they have feasted with impunity on the rest of the metropolis, where many in your ranks own some of the choicest properties and rake in much of the profits as well.
So when one Forbes Park group which wants to cash in on their properties (Araneta, Yuchengco) fights another group (Zobel, Concepcion) which wants to preserve their “unique way of life”, it’s a bit difficult to generate sympathy elsewhere.
They all want more, so what else is new? While our hearts bleed for those poor trees, it’s hard to pretend the issues is that simple, including the zigzagging ancient tunnels of the tagalog mandirigma underneath the cemented roads and avenues.
Some of the ladies who lunch and the cute grandchildren who pass around leaflets at Santuario de San Antonio offer just the other, if prettier, face of the long-running commercial greed that has turned even their beloved Forbes Park into a disaster zone.