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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fernando Zobel de Ayala (FZA)  honored by the Hispanic Society of America

Speaking Out

By Ignacio R. Bunye

Ayala Foundation Chairman, Fernando Zobel de Ayala (FZA), and the Zobel de Ayala family were recently honored with the prestigious Sorolla Medal by the Hispanic Society of America in New York City. This recognition stands as a testament to their unwavering commitment to  art and culture through the Ayala Foundation, which serves as the social development arm of the Ayala group of companies.

Expressing deep gratitude on behalf of his family, FZA emphasized their dedication to collaborative efforts with the Hispanic community in pursuit of shared interests aimed at fostering a deeper understanding between cultures and people.

Established in 1904, the Hispanic Society of America has a noble mission: to establish a public museum and reference library for the study of art and culture from Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines. Since 1924, they have been conferring the Sorolla Medal, named in honor of the renowned Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla, to acknowledge individuals and institutions for their significant contributions in the realms of philanthropy, art, literature, and culture.

In addition to FZA, other distinguished recipients of the 2023 Sorolla Medal include Dr. Carlos Zunta, the Duke of Soria and co-founder of the Duke and Duchess of Soria Cultural Foundation, as well as philanthropist and art collector Ella Fortunals-Cisteros, who hails from Cuba.

Ayala Foundation Inc. (AFI), one of the pioneering corporate foundations in the Philippines, has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1961 by Col. Joseph McMicking and Mrs. Mercedes Zobel-McMicking. Originally known as the Filipinas Foundation, its inception was inspired by the Science Act of 1958, which encouraged private sector involvement in scientific research and development to address the nation’s needs.

The mission of the Filipinas Foundation extended beyond science and research, encompassing diverse projects in education, community development, and the arts and culture sector. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the foundation adapted to the changing needs of Filipinos across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, aligning with the nation’s aspirations for development following the People Power Revolution. 

In 1990, Filipinas Foundation underwent a rebranding and emerged as Ayala Foundation, symbolizing the Ayala group’s renewed commitment to serving a dynamically evolving society. Over the years, Ayala Foundation has expanded its programs nationwide, forging partnerships with government, non-governmental organizations, corporate entities, and community-based organizations.

To recap, here is a historical timeline of Ayala Foundation:

  • 1961: Filipinas Foundation, precursor to Ayala Foundation, is established by Col. Joseph McMicking and Mrs. Mercedes Zobel-McMicking.
  • 1974: The Ayala Museum building, designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin, opens on Makati Avenue.
  • 1990: Filipinas Foundation is renamed Ayala Foundation in alignment with the Ayala group’s commitment to addressing Philippine society’s needs.
  • 1991: Ayala Foundation initiates collaboration with Doña Bea Zobel on the Iraya-Mangyan program in Oriental Mindoro.
  • 1996: The Filipinas Heritage Library opens at the Nielson Tower at Ayala Triangle, commemorating the 100th year of the Philippine Revolution.
  • 1998: The Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education (CENTEX) Manila opens.
  • 1999: Ayala Foundation launches the first Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC) with 70 student leaders in attendance.
  • 2004: Ayala Museum inaugurates its new building on Dela Rosa Street to celebrate Ayala Corporation’s 170th anniversary.
  • 2015: Pieces from the Ayala Museum’s “Gold of Ancestors” exhibit captivate audiences in New York.
  • 2018: The ‘Maging Magiting’ campaign is launched to promote love of country by honoring national symbols and upholding Filipino values.
  • 2021: The renovated Ayala Museum reopens in alignment with Ayala Foundation’s 60th year, with the anniversary theme “Faith in the Filipino” highlighting the foundation’s commitment to national development.

Ayala Foundation’s evolution is driven by its belief in actively contributing to national development and responding to evolving community needs. Today, Ayala Foundation envisions productive, creative, self-reliant Filipino communities and operates within three thematic program areas: Education, Sustainable Livelihood, and Love of Country. As a member of the Ayala group of companies, it remains dedicated to creating shared value and fostering inclusive business practices.


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