Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
I was already working in Philam Life Tower when another upheaval took place: the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, which cascaded from the subprime mortgage fiasco to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the bailing out of banks across the world, the austerity measures inflicted by governments on its taxpayers, worldwide protests, and the widest ever gap between the world’s rich and poor – in essence: money’s trading hands. Because of this, Philam Life’s (or Philippine American Life and General Insurance) holding company AIG (American International Group) nearly collapsed. It was only saved by a rescue package from the US Federal Reserve (ie the money of the American people – as I said, money’s trading hands). For almost two years, the status of Philam Life was in limbo (ie in the hands of a “special purpose vehicle”, the equivalent for AIG being a secured credit facility).
I’d almost forgotten about the corporate commotion within Philam Life and AIG, but then, looking at the hidden façade of the Insular Life building, I was reminded of the tumult. This prompted me to look up the history behind Insular Life, which, just by the sound of it, feels closer to home.
I only discover now that Insular Life (or the Insular Life Assurance company) was formerly under the Ayala Corporation. How is it connected with Philam Life? In 2009, the new Philam Life bought a 51% stake in Ayala Life and formed a joint venture with BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands). After 2010, Ayala Life has been renamed as BPI-Philam Life.
I don’t know about you, but looking from one building to the backside of another, and then learning how the two companies are historically connected, seems amazing to me. And sadly, this easy monetary changing of hands diminishes whatever nostalgia I thought I had for design and architecture of the past.
I do not know the precise answers, and why they have been buried for the general, inquiring public. Who knows what else traded ownership as colonialists shook hands? What I do know is that though it may sound trite to say that it is the wealthy who control the government, I am dead serious in asking: where did the country’s taipans/oligarchs get the money to get rich? The finances to build luxury business districts and subdivisions that drive out natives from their mother land?
Taking everything (available) into account, and gazing once again upon the “lost” architecture of a former financial building (and imagining that this may only be the metaphorical tip of the iceberg), I say: let it crumble and burn to the ground.