Ricardo Padilla y Satrustegui

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Ricardo Padilla y Satrustegui was one of the leading Hispanists of the Philippines. He was born on May 19, 1919 in San Sebastian, Spain, to a distinguished Spanish family. His father was Ambassador Alejandro de Padilla y Bell who until his death in 1953 was the dean of Spain's Foreign Service. His mother was Carmen Satrustegui, who was the daughter of the Baron de Satrustegui, owner of the Spanish steamship company Compañia Transatlántica Española. His oldest brother Ramon Padilla was equerry and diplomatic adviser of Don Juan de Borbon, father of King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

Early Life

He finished his secondary schooling at Instituto de San Isidro in Madrid, Spain in 1926. When his father was appointed Ambassador to the United States, Don Ricardo followed his father's diplomatic posting and continued his schooling at Georgetown University. He graduated with a degree in foreign service, economics, and political science in 1932. He apprenticed with Chase National Bank, predecessor of Chase Manhattan, before leaving for the Philippines in 1933 to help manage the company Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas, otherwise known as Tabacalera. He was a relative of its founder Marques de Comillas and its then president Conde de Gamazo. He returned to Spain to fight in the Civil War and received several military honors.

During his tenure at Tabacalera he worked tirelessly to promote the promotion of Hispano-Filipino legacy. He wrote historical articles, of which "Hoy hace 39 años que murió Don Alfonso XIII" was the most notable and published in the prestigious Spanish cultural magazine ABC. In it he described how General Emilio Aguinaldo had paid homage to the exiled King when the monarch had died in Rome in 1941. Don Ricardo narrated how Emilio Aguinaldo was given the singular honor of Pendón de Castilla.

Hispanist Exemplar

In 1943 he married Gloria Zobel de Ayala and their children are Georgina Padilla y Zobel de Ayala de Mac-Crohon and Alejandro Padilla Zobel de Ayala. He intensified his campaign for the preservation of Spanish together with Doña Gloria through their efforts at Premio Zobel. Keenly aware of the need of Filipinos to understand their past, he tirelessly met with the Philippine presidents Manuel Roxas, Elpidio Quirino and Diosdado Macapagal to promote the teaching of Spanish.

He helped organize the Solidaridad Hispano-Filipina, Peña Hispano Filipino and los Amigos de Legazpi, which were directed at the cultural and linguistic promotion of Spanish. For these efforts he was made an honorary member of the Academia Filipina. He was decorated with the Gran Cruz de Isabel la Católica and the Gran Cruz de Mérito Civil of Spain.

His hobbies were hunting, sailing and photography. He belonged to many associations, including the Manila Polo Club, Casino Español, Army Navy Club, Amigos de Legazpi and Peña Hispano-Filipina.

From 1985 Doña GLoria and Don Ricardo took charge of the sponsorship and organization of Premio Zobel. In 1999 when Don Ricardo passed away, their children Doña Georgina and Don Alejandro continued his noble task of organizing and supporting the Premio Zobel.


  • Lourdes Brillantes, "81 Years of Premio Zobel." Makati: Georgina Padilla, 2006.
  • "Tableau: Encyclopedia of Distinguished Personalities in the Philippines", Manila: PD Aveo and Sons, 1957.