Last Updated: November 14th, 2018
Once considered as one of the most successful savings bank in the country, Monte de Piedad Savings Bank now stands as a lasting reminder of what corruption and mismanagement can result to. Its ideal business model of providing loans for the needy eventually led to its collapse. Outlined is a brief history of its rise and fall as one of the country’s most successful savings bank–and the edifices that it once occupied.
1. Monte de Piedad began as a pawn shop in medieval Italy before the same system was applied in one of Spain’s first savings bank–the Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Jerez (1834) in the Province of Cádiz in Spain.
2. A royal decree released in 1851 allowed for the creation of both Banco Español Filipino and Monte de Piedad in the Philippines.
3. With its inauguration on August 2, 1882, it was once considered as the oldest savings bank in the Philippines.
4. The bank was founded by Fr. Felix Huertas (de Huerta)–a Franciscan priest–using the funds from the obras pías. Obras pías is directly translated from Spanish as “works of piety”.
5. The loans provided by the bank allowed traders of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade to acquire more goods. The church demanded no guarantees, however, except for the goods acquired by their borrowers.
6. The bank was first located in a rented office at the ground floor of Santa Isabel College in Intramuros before it relocated in front of Plaza de Goiti in 1894.
7. The bank commissioned their own building–the Monte de Piedad Building (now known as the Don Roman Santos Building)–in front of Plaza de Goiti (now Plaza Lacson) in 1894. The iconic architectural landmark was conceptualized and designed by Don Juan de Hervás which incorporated Neoclassical and Renaissance architectural style in its design.
8. Interestingly, the late President Manuel L. Quezon once worked for Monte de Piedad as a clerk for 25 pesos a month.
9. In 1938, it relocated its headquarters in front of Santa Cruz Church.
10. The building was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945 and was reconstructed in 1946 and reopened in 1947.
11. Due to the questionable loans provided to tricycle drivers, teachers, and small time businessmen, Monte de Piedad Savings Bank collapsed and was bought out in 1997 and was renamed as Keppel Monte Bank.
The Manila Project
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