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(Part 2) Nielson Airport Today

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From our previous article about Nielson’s Airport, we discovered the great accomplishment of businessman, Laurie Reuben Nielson – Founder of the First Airport in the Philippines. Now, let’s find out what happened to the Nielson Tower and airport here in Makati during and after the war.


As we recall in 1937, Nielson Airport became the home of American Far Eastern School of Aviation, Philippine Aerial Taxi Company (PATCO), Iloilo Negros Air Express Company (air service), and Philippine Airlines. However, with the rising tension of war in the Pacific, all commercial flights of Nielson Airport were stopped in October of 1941. Private aircrafts were relocated to give way to the U.S. Army Air Forces, thus Nielson Airport became the headquarters of the Far East Air Force (FEAF). FEAF was the military aviation organisation of the United States Army in the Philippines prior to the beginning of World War II.



Logo of the Nielson Field as the part of the Fifth Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces


On 10 December 1941, Nielson Field was attacked by Japanese airplanes and eventually they took over and sequestered the airport. They used the airport as their headquarters. Four years later, Manila was liberated from the Japanese occupation. Thus, the Americans and the Filipinos were able to reclaim this airport. At this stage, the airport and its facilities were restored and once again, commercial flights (local and international) were resumed in 1946. By 1948, all operations in the Nielson Airport were halted and continued at Villamor Airbase, Pasay City.


The land where Nielson Airport stands is a portion of Hacienda San Pedro de Makati, a land area owned by Enrique Zobel de Ayala of the company Ayala y Cia. Since Laurie Reuben Nielson was missing after he was detained in Hong Kong as a prisoner of war, and his family returned to the US after the war, the ownership of the airport and its facilities was passed on to Ayala y Cia (now called Ayala Corporation).


To give way to the development of the Makati business and commercial district, the airport’s runways were converted into roads. Today, these roads are known as Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue. The only parts of the airport that are preserved are the control tower and the passenger’s terminal. This is the Nielson Tower that we see today at Ayala Triangle.



(LEFT) The Nielson’s Tower used as a venue for outdoor social events and private parties.
(RIGHT) Swanky interior of Nielson’s Tower for cocktail parties.


Nielson Tower is an elegant and beautiful, two-storey structure that resembles an airplane from a bird’s-eye view. In the following years, it became the headquarters of the police department. It even became the office of the Integrated Property Management Corporation, owned by the Ayala group of companies.



Inside the Nielson’s Tower: The place can be rented as a conference venue or it can be arranged as a formal dining hall.


During the late 1970s up to 1994, Nielson Tower was converted into a semi-private and first-class restaurant. In 1996, the Nielson Tower became the home of the Filipinas Heritage Library. This library is a division of the Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI). This is a wonderful library and electronic research centre that has over 2,000 rare books on microfiche, 13,000 contemporary volumes about Philippine history, art, language, religion and culture, and more.


Just recently, in January 2013, Filipinas Heritage Library transferred to Ayala Museum. Nielson Tower is currently closed for renovation. It was turned over back to its original owner, Ayala Land Inc., a real estate arm of the Ayala Corporation. In the future, Nielson Tower will once again be a venue for social events and fine dining.


Today Nielson Tower is now converted to a restaurant called “Blackbird


Through the years, Nielson Tower brought together people as an aviation tower, as an architectural treasure, a historical landmark, and as a venue of important social events in  Makati’s business district.



Beautiful Nielson Tower at night. This was once an aviation tower of the Nielson Airport. Today, it is a historical landmark that reflects the history of the Philippines.


If Makati is your home and your office venue, you will have a better appreciation of this city after learning more about the history of Nielson Tower. Come and visit the Filipinas Heritage Library for their resources and information about Nielson Tower and Makati’s history.


Filipinas Heritage Library (Ayala Foundation, Inc.)

6/F Ayala Museum

Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street

Makati City, Metro Manila

Library Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Tel. No. – (632) 759-8288 loc 36

Fax (632) 759-8287



Author: Marcelle Villegas  


Photo source:

Photos of Nielson Tower today –



Special thanks to:

The Filipinas Heritage Library

  • Ms. Maria Cecilia I. Ayson, Associate Manager, Library Services

  • Ella Gonzales, Librarian

Thank you for providing information about Nielson Tower!


 Related posts:

(Part 1) Laurie Reuben Nielson – Founder of the First Airport in the Philippines



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