Elizalde and Co. today is a commercial enterprise that affects the economic structure of the nation. It is engaged in almost all important industries in the Philippines: paint and floor wax, wine and liquor, rope, shipping, lumber, insurance, mining, hardware and chandlery, sugar and cattle raising, and many more.
The beginning of Elizalde and Co. was associated with a Spaniard named Joaquin Marcelino Elizalde who migrated to the Philippines in 1854. Upon his arrival in the islands, Elizalde joined Ynchausti y cia. established earlier by his cousin, Joaquin M. Ynchausti. Thereupon, they established a store on the banks of the Pasig River dealing in candles, oil, soap, paint, and groceries with barely a dozen men.
The next industry that the partners decided to get involved in was wine and liquor-making. This was the result of the joining of Don Valentine Teus in the partnership. Teus owned the Destileria Tanduay. He was a well-traveled man with a broad experience in the fermentation of wine and the distillation of wine liquor. He enriched the partnership with his knowledge when he became part of it. With the combined efforts of the partners, the time soon came when the quality of Tanduay wines and liquors was considered superior in many parts of the Philippines until today, the word “Tanduay” means wine or liquor in popular parlance. Tanduay Distilleries is one of the major Elizalde enterprises some of whose products are distributed far and wide outside of the Philippines.
In the early part of the 20th century, Ynchausti y cia. opened a small store in Iloilo City as ship chandlers. Later it engaged in importing foodstuffs from Spain and operating a shipping company with boats plying the Manila-Iloilo route.
With the boom in the sugar industry in the 1920s, Elizalde and Co. started putting up sugar mills. La Carlota Sugar Central in Negros Occidental was built in 1918 and the Pilar Sugar Central in Capiz in 1925.
In 1934, Ynchausti y cia. passed out of existence when Elizalde bought out the heirs of their relatives for five million pesos and called the new firm Elizalde and Co. The legal aspects of this transaction were handled by a prominent lawyer from Negros Occidental, Jose Yulo, who made his mark in national politics by becoming a speaker of the National Assembly in 1938. He was the vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of Elizalde and Co., and the experience he gained in the operation of Elizalde’s sugar interest undoubtedly prompted him to enter the industry with the purchase of the Canlubang Sugar Estate in 1949.
Elizalde and Co. carried the same business as its predecessor and expanded to sugar milling, insurance, paint manufacturing, rope making, wine distillery, and managing haciendas in Western Visayas. Due to its desire to serve the public with utmost efficiency and economy, it also put up the Manila Steamship Co. which operated two inter-island steamers, the “Bisayas” and “Venus” in the 1930s.
Read also: List of Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Sites