EXPLAINER: Makati's Ayala Ave is Where History Changes Course

Before pink, Ayala was yellow, even blood red.
Thousands of people gather at Manila's financial district of Makati to stage a massive demonstration calling for the ouster of President Gloria Arroyo over allegations of corruption on Feb. 29, 2008.
Photo/s: Jay Directo, Agence France-Presse

Vice President Leni Robredo will attempt to gather hundreds of thousands for her miting de avance or final presidential campaign rally on Ayala Avenue in Makati City on Saturday, where mammoth political gatherings often serve as turning points in the country's history.

Organizers are aiming for a record one million people clad in pink as Robredo, and her running mate, Kiko Pangilinan, seek to convert their crowd-drawing clout into votes as rivals Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte led the last survey before the May 9 vote and secured the endorsement of the bloc-voting Iglesia ni Cristo.

Aside from EDSA, Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, and the Quirino Grandstrand on Manila Bay, Ayala Avenue has witnessed protest marches, funerals, and bloody military uprisings that always signaled massive political changes ahead.

The remains of former Philippines president Corazon Aquino pass thousands of her supporters in the Makati business district of Manila on Aug. 3, 2009. Jay Directo, Agence France-Presse
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In 2009, former President Corazon Aquino died from cancer and when her funeral procession passed by Ayala Avenue, yellow confetti rained from the windows of the financial district's skyscrapers, reminiscent of the pro-democracy movement she led in 1986 that ousted Bongbong Marcos' father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

The following year, Cory's son, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was elected president, upsetting then survey frontrunner Manny Villar and forcing Noynoy's party mate, Mar Roxas to yield.

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While associated with the Aquinos and their signature yellow color (there's a statue of martyred Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino at the intersection of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas), Ayala has witnessed mobilizations from a myriad of political persuasions.

In July 2003, the Magdalo group of junior officers and enlisted men booby-trapped the vicinity of Glorietta and the Oakwood luxury apartments along Ayala with bombs to protest alleged corruption under then-President Gloria Arroyo.

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Arroyo prevailed over the mutineers and would seek Cory Aquino's support, marching on Ayala Avenue the following month for Ninoy Aquino's death anniversary. That political alliance would crumble following the 2004 elections.

Former president Corazon Aquino and widow of assassinated opposition leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino (L) with President Gloria Arroyo (C) and former president Fidel Ramos (R) wave the Laban sign, meaning to fight, as they lead a march commemorating the 20th death anniversary of former senator Aquino, at the financial district of Makati 21 August 2003 Joel Nito, Agence France-Presse
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Arroyo was accused of cheating to defeat actor Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004 and the following year, purported wiretaps of her phone calls to Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano were leaked. Enraged supporters of Poe, who had died of a stroke, took to Ayala Avenue to demand Arroyo's resignation.

The Arroyo-resign movement would soon simmer down. However, in 2007, Magdalo soldiers again marched on Ayala Avenue from their Makati City courthouse and took over the Manila Peninsula to press on their fight against Arroyo.

The avenue was shut during the entire afternoon as snipers positioned on top of office buildings and the siege ended when state troops rammed a tank into the hotel lobby to arrest the soldiers.

A military armored vehicle and police commandos break into the bullet-riddled lobby during the siege at the luxury Peninsula Hotel in Manila's financial district of Makati on Nov. 29, 2007, to flush out rebel soldiers. Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse
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Ayala Avenue and the entire Makati Financial District is a no-brainer for military adventurists as a staging ground for the widest reach. It houses the country's stock exchange until trading transferred to BGC in 2018 and the area is developed by one of the country's richest families.

The bloodiest coup against Cory Aquino was staged mainly from the area and almost succeeded in overthrowing her government until the Americans flew fighter jets to flex their support for the democracy icon.

On May 7, Robredo will attempt another history-making mobilization on Ayala Avenue for a come-from-behind victory against Marcos Jr., whose march to Malacañang is decades in the making, thanks to a social media campaign that packaged his father's brutal and corrupt government as the Philippines' golden age.

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