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Author: -
Date: 2007-06-22
BEL-AIR VILLAGE, MAKATI CITY, M. MANILA, was part of the then NIELSEN AIRPORT of the Municipality of Makati, Rizal Prov.

In the 1930’s, the AYALA-owned NIELSEN AIRPORT was the only COMMERCIAL AIRPORT of Manila. Philippine Air Lines ( PAL ) then owned by the late Don Andres Soriano Sr. operated domestic flights from Manila to Baguio and Paracale, with 9- Passenger twin engine planes flown by American pilots.

During World War II, the airport was taken over by the Japanese Air Force and the U.S. Army Air Corps.

AYALA AVE. And PASEO DE ROXAS were wide and macadam as they were then the RUNWAYS of the AIRPORT. The NIELSEN TERMINAL & TOWER located across the PENINSULA HOTEL at Makati Ave. is still standing, well groomed as an AYALA LEGACY.

After the War, in 1945, the AIRPORT was returned to AYALA; domestic and international commercial air operations resumed. However, in 1948, the U.S.AIRFORCE turned over NICHOLS AIR BASE to the Phil. Gov’t. PRESIDENT M. ROXAS transferred all commercial air operations from NIELSEN to NICHOLS despite the intense lobbying of the AYALAS and SORIANOS.

It was a BLESSING IN DISGUISE. The late COL. JOSEPH MCMICKING of the U.S. Army and HONORARY COL. PHIL. AIR FORCE, the husband of DONA MERCEDES ZOBEL DE AYALA ( majority share owner of AYALA ) visualized a future FINANCIAL, BUSINESS, COMMERCIAL CENTER with residential villages all around the vacant NIELSEN AIRPORT.

In early 1950’s, he lured Manila’s influencial entrepreneurs, business leaders to move to FORBES PARK at give-away price of land at EIGHT ( 8 ) PESOS per square meter. Who then later built their magnificent buildings at Ayala Ave. And Paseo De Roxas. San Lorenzo Village followed in 1954 for executives and the upper middle class.

IN 1956, the PAL Airline pilots union ( ALPAP ), composed of over 200 virtually ex-US. Airforce and Phil Air Force pilots requested AYALA for a subdivision. Thru the efforts of the late CAPT ANTONIO O’BRIEN, then President of ALPAP and with gracious support of his friend, Col.J. McMicking, PHASE I of Bel-Air Village was opened in 1957 at a price of P 15.00 per sq.meter for pilots and P 30 for others.

After viewing the vast area of cogon and talahib all around the area, only 100 pilots signed up and 50 odd pilots erected houses. The others sold their rights at a handsome profit. There is not a single building in BUENDIA, PASEO DE ROXAS, MAKATI AVE. and AYALA AVE. The only building was the RIZAL THEATRE ( now the site of SHANGRILA HOTEL and later a small MAKATI SUPERMART )

From the FIRST HOUSE and RESIDENCE of the late CAPT CHARLIE DEEN at No. 2 Polaris St. corner Mars St., PHASE I, BEL-AIR VILLAGE blossomed into FOUR PHASES : I - IV with over 900 home owners. The WIDOW of the FIRST RESIDENT, MS. JUDITH DEEN and siblings still lives at their 1957 house. While the WIDOW OF CAPT. A. O’BRIEN, the former film actress PARALUMAN just recently moved out of their house at Polaris St. Capt. O’Brien chose the name BEL-AIR as the pilots wanted a name with “ AIR”.

From a one-woman employee, part time as she was the Secretary of ALPAP, for the first several years, BAVA now has a full complement of personnel to service the Village. The ASS. has orchestrated several organizations for YOUTH, WOMEN, SENIOR, ETC. The BEL-AIR PARK is considered one of the finest among the Villages of the City.


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