THE PHILIPPINES-JAPAN SOCIETY
By unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
Proudly confers upon
ENRIQUE EMILIO JACOBO ZOBEL OLGADO
MEDAL OF MERIT
For Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion
Enrique Emilio Jacobo Zobel Olgado was born 76 years ago, on 7 January, 1927, in Manila, to Jacobo Zobel Roxas and Angela Olgado.
A big man all his life, EZ weighed in at eight pounds at birth. He was, as the saying goes, to the manor born, and lived a charmed life of horses and polo, farms and open spaces, exclusive schools, social prominence and leadership.
His father, Don Jacobo, was Managing Director of Ayala y Cia until the war broke out. He was senior aide-de-camp to Presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Manuel L. Roxas and Elpidio Quirino. During World War II he served with distinction in the Bataan Campaign, surviving the Death March to Caparas. He was also, at one time a military attach of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo. Being a widower since 1962, Jacobo married Sachiko Morita, a Japanese lady who now lives in Makati.
A teenager during the outbreak of the Second World War, EZ had to make do, using his father’s polo ponies for the carretelas that he drove as a cochero. Speaking Tagalog, English, and Spanish fluently, he used his linguistic abilities to give Spanish lessons to General Ohta of the Japanese Military Police (Kempeitai) , making it possible to secure the release of Don Jacobo from the Capas Internment Camp in mid-1942.
After the war, EZ passed the government examinations which qualified him to study Agriculture at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), after which he came home to Manila in 1948.
He joined the family corporation, literally at the bottom, as a mechanic, fixing the jeeps, trucks, tractors of Ayala. Because of his agriculture background, he was assigned by Ayala Senior Management to be Manager of Hacienda San Pedro Makati from 1948 to 1951. Their main business involved growing grass feed to the horses that pulled Manila’s carretelas and carromatas – the main modes of public transportation at that time.
When Ayala began the post-war development of Makati, he was offered the position of Assistant Manager (1951-1954) of Ayala y Cia, later being promoted to managing Partner (1955-1968). In these roles, EZ played a major part in converting the swamplands of Hacienda San Pedro into modern metropolis which we known today as the Makati Central Business District.
EZ succeeded his uncle; Joe McMicking (married to Don Jacobo’s younger sister, Mercedes) upon the latter’s retirement in 1968, as CEO of Ayala Corporation. During his incumbency, he also headed the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), the Insurance Group of Companies and other Ayala subsidiary companies.
In 1972, EZ convinced the family stockholders that the ability of the company could be strengthened by the investments of foreign institutional partners. Early in 1973, he initiated negotiations with the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan in the belief that the latter’s participation will contribute greatly to the future growth of Ayala Corporation and its group of subsidiary and affiliated companies through (1) Diversification into industrial projects in which the Mitsubishi Group has world- renowned management and technical know-how and resources; and (2) Generation of new business for Ayala’s existing main areas of business activity, namely: finance, Investments, Banking, Insurance and Real Estate.
After an exchange of correspondence and visits by top-level executives of both companies, the final agreement was signed on 11 September 1973, and consummated on 17 January 1974 with the purchased by Mitsubishi Group of twenty percent (20%) of the Ayala Group. There were two “firsts” accomplished: First, was the biggest investment by any Japanese company in the Philippines at that time, and second, this was also the first time that the Mitsubishi Group (bank, trust, real estate and the Mitsubishi Corporation itself) join together tin purchasing one corporation outside Japan.
Major projects and accomplishments by the Ayala-Mitsubishi partnership, from which benefits were derived in terms of technology transfer, employment for Filipinos, and development for the country:
1974 Purchased from the Jerome brothers of the Legaspi Oil Company, then the country’s biggest coconut oil milling and export firm with total assets of P90M. Ayala Corporation assumed 43% which Mitsubishi assumed 40%.
1975 Acquisition of D.O. Plaza, a plywood manufacturing company later renamed Agusan wood. Investment ratio was: Ayala Corporation 68.125%, Mitsubishi 31.875%.
1988 Investment by Mitsubishi in Ayala Systems Technology, Inc., a pioneering information technology firm established to capitalize on the strong demand for software and services in the Philippines and the ASEAN region.
1990 Singing of joint venture agreement between Mitsubishi Corporation, Ayala Land and Kawasaki Steel to established Laguna Technopark, Inc., a P12 billion industrial estate in Sta. Rosa Laguna.
Agreement between Ayala and Mitsubishi, with Honda Motors and RCBC for the local assembly of the 1.2 liter Honda Civic under the Governments People’s Car Program.
Isuzu Motors , Ayala, Mitsubishi and RCBC join together to establish Isuzu Philippines Corporation for the local assembly of commercial vehicles in the Philippines.
1996 More Japanese investors introduced into the Ayala Group.
Mitsubishi invests in Integrated Microelectronics.
Ayala, Mitsubishi, Bechtel Enterpresides and United Utilities set up the Manila Water Company.
1998 Ayala signs an agreement with Mitsubishi Corporation, Daito Corporation and Mitsubishi Logistics to engage in centralized trucking, forwarding, customs brokerage and warehousing services.
As colonel in the Philippine Air Force and professional Pilot, EZ was personally involved in humanitarian efforts such as dropping of relief goods and rescue missions for typhoon and disaster victims.
After fifteen years at the helm of the Ayala Group , EZ resigned in 1983, and proceeded to set up Ayala International, solely his own, and E. Zobel, Inc. With Ayala International, a team-up with the Sultan of Brunei, the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (Largest Japanese bank at that time), and Merril Lynch (the world’s biggest investment house) EZ showed the mettle of Filipino professionals through its real estate, banking, trading, insurance, hotel and tourism, and agriculture projects.
In May 1991, an unfortunate accident after a practice polo game left him paralyzed from the neck down. Confined to his wheelchair, EZ keeps himself busy with his business interests in which he is ably assisted by his son, Inigo.
In one of his speeches, he said that his accident had given him the opportunity to reevaluate how he had lived his life – in the main, no regrets – that he would commit himself on how to lived the remaining years – years to be dedicated to his loved ones and friends as well as to those he may have never touched before, and that he would express this commitment through his columns (in Business world), through his foundation, the E. Zobel Foundation that has already helped so many since its inception in 1990, and through other opportunities that could come along the way. He is doing this as a Filipino dedicated to doing what he can for the country.
EZ envisions a united Asia with China and Japan as its leaders. He looks back to the time when the Philippines was considered one of Asia’s young tigers and blames inferior education for the deteriorating quality of political leadership. He looks forward to the Philippines and Japan working closely together. With Japan’s technical know-how and the Philippines’ quality workforce and knowledge of English, with Japan’s agricultural expertise coupled with the Philippines’ vast land resources and farmers, our two countries can bring out the best in each other- an ideal partnership.
In his seven and half decades of life, Enrique Zobel is a living witness to Philippine history. In his more than half century of participation in the Philippine business life, he was a catalyst for change and progress. Today, though confined to his wheelchair, Enrique Zobel continuous to soar – with a vision for superior education for the masses, for government led by political leaders who mean the country well, and for international cooperation that will benefit the interest of the Filipino.
In view of the foregoing achievements, the Philippines-Japan Society proudly confers upon Mr. Enrique Emilio Jacobo Zobel Olgado, the 25th Philippines-Japan Society Merit, the highest award within its gift, for his life and work as business leader, as philanthropist, as visionary and foremost, as Filipino.
Given this 28th day of February, 2003 in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand Three in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines on the occasion of the 25th Philippines-Japan Friendship Celebration, and the 31st year of the Philippines-Japan Society
BENJAMIN C. LAUREL