Enrile gives up monument to self, now an eyesore on Ayala AvenueBy Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Jaka Tower, the concrete and steel eyesore on Ayala Avenue, could be taken down soon. Its owner, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, finally abandoned his dream of making a high-rise monument to himself.
Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile said his father had decided to sell the property after coming to the conclusion that he did not have the time or the resources to complete what he set out to build in 1996.
Jaka Tower went through a series of misfortunes in the past 16 years—from the 1998 Asian financial crisis (which burst the property bubble then) to financial troubles that forced Enrile’s Jaka Group to surrender its prized property to lenders.
“We bought it back. It belongs to us again. My father and sister (Katrina) are now looking for buyers. They have some leads,” said Jack, who was hopeful that the current property boom would lead to a multibillion-peso deal soon.
Jack, a senatorial candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance, said the family could have been spared the grief of holding on to what netizens have derided as “chaka (gay speak for ugly) building” for nearly two decades had his father listened to him.
He said his father had turned down a once-in-a-lifetime offer of P600,000 per square meter for the two lots (the Jaka Tower stands on one of two adjacent lots of 1,200 square meters each that were acquired by Enrile from the Elizalde group in 1987).
“He told me: ‘Huwag mo pakialaman ang project ng kapatid mong babae (Don’t interfere with your sister’s project). She is building my monument. I want that building to be a monument for me.’ Those were his words, verbatim. So, we have to borrow money to finance the project,” Jack said.
Jack said that at the P600,000 per square meter offered by a local group, the family could have raised P1.44 billion from the two Ayala Avenue lots. He declined to name the group but hinted that it was made of Spanish mestizos.
Jack said the amount would be more than enough to bankroll the family’s other flagship project—the Splendido Taal Residential, Golf & Country Club in Tagaytay City—which it also planned on building that same year.
“I told my father we could not possibly build two projects—Jaka Tower and Splendido—at the same time. We needed P1.3 billion for the tower and P2 billion for the golf course. I told my father it was best to forgo the tower and sell the Ayala Avenue lot, and use the money to fulfill his other dream project. But he and my sister wanted both,” he said.
Jack, who served as president and CEO of the Jaka Group, said his father had planned a massive initial public offering of the group in 1998 to raise money for the tower but this was aborted due to the financial meltdown that year.
He said his father borrowed money to push through with the tower and ended spending a total of P900 million for his half-finished “monument.”
“This is just one of the mistakes my father has made in our business transactions together. I once came to him with a chance to buy a 100-hectare lot in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, for P4 million in 1987. He told me: ‘Who is stupid enough to go to Sta. Rosa?’ Toyota ended up buying it,” Jack said.
Jaka Tower, designed by the American architecture-engineering giant HOK, was to be 185.93-meters tall. In contrast, the completed PBCom Tower and GT Tower across Jaka Tower are 259 meters and 217 meters tall, respectively.
The tower reached only 21 of its planned 49 floors before it was abandoned.
Jaka Tower’s has been likened to another high-rise project, the Puyat building, which stood unfinished for almost a quarter of a century at Edsa corner Pasong Tamo Extension in Makati City.
The building was acquired five years ago for P1.3 billion by Roberto Ongpin, trade minister of the Marcos regime. He converted it into a business process outsourcing center and shopping mall, and renamed it Alphaland Southgate Tower.