Manila is the capital of the Philippines and the center of governance, education, religion and finance. It also contains vast amount of significant architectural and cultural landmarks in the country.
Manila is on the eastern shore of Manila Bay. According to the 2010 census, Manila is the second most populous city in the Philippines with a population of 1,652,171. Manila is the most densely populated city in the world with 42,857 people per square kilometer.
Sprawling, congested and polluted will likely be the first words to enter your mind when you think of Manila but don't let that impression stop you from exploring its places of interests: its churches; its diverse and complicated culture; colonial history; gigantic malls; bustling markets; hidden architectural gems and vibrant nightlife. Take the opportunity to explore Manila and make your own personal connection with the city.
|POPULATION :||City: 1,652,171 / Metro: 11,855,975|
|TIME ZONE :||PST (UTC+8)|
|LANGUAGE :||Filipino (official), English (official)|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 93%, Philippine Independent Church 2.4%, Iglesia ni Cristo 1.9%, Protestants 1.8%, Budhists 1.1%, Other 1.4%|
|AREA :||38.55 km2 (14.88 sq mi) Metro: 638.55 km2 (246.55 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||490 m (1,610 ft) - 620 m (2,000 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||14°35′N 121°00′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 51.40% |
• Female: 48.60%
|ETHNIC :||Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%, Ilocano 9%, Bisaya/Binisaya 7.6%, Hiligaynon Ilonggo 7.5%, Bikol 6%, Other 28.7%|
|AREA CODE :||2|
|POSTAL CODE :||0900 to 1096|
|DIALING CODE :||+63 (0)2|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Most people in Manila wear T-shirts & jeans, can speak English, read and write in Roman text, and do not feel comfortable with chopsticks. Manila is known for being a city where the old meets the new. Here you'll find Spanish colonial churches, old-fashioned museums and neo-classical buildings versus modern shopping centers, stylish art museums and glass-stained skyscrapers. Its blend of urban development and historical heritage had made Manila's image unique and attractive.
Tourism is a vital industry in Manila, and it welcomes approximately over 1 million tourists each year. Major destinations include the walled city of Intramuros, the National Theater at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila Ocean Park, Binondo, Ermita, Malate, Manila Zoo, National Museum of the Philippines and Rizal Park.
Intramuros is the historic center of Manila. Originally, it was considered to be Manila itself at the time when the Philippines was under the Spanish Empire colonial rule. Owing to its history and cultural value, Intramuros and Rizal Park are designated as flagship destination to become a tourism enterprise zone in the Tourism Act of 2009.
The architecture of Intramuros reflects the Spanish colonial style and the American neoclassical architectural style, since the Philippines was a colony of Spain and the United States before it is granted its independence in 1946. Kalesa is a popular mode of transportation in Intramuros and nearby places such as Binondo, Ermita and the Rizal Park.
Popular tourist destinations in Intramuros include the Baluarte de San Diego, Club Intramuros Golf Course, Cuartel de Santa Lucia, Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, Palacio Arzobispal, Palacio de Santa Potenciana, Palacio del Gobernador, Plaza Mexico, Plaza de Roma, San Agustin Church and the Ayuntamiento de Manila.
Manila is a well-known shopping hub of the country and it has been named as one of the best shopping destinations in Asia. Major shopping malls, markets and bazaars thrives in Manila.
Robinsons Place Manila is the largest shopping mall in the city. The mall was the second and by-far, the largest Robinson Mall ever built by John Gokongwei. SM Supermall maintains presence in the city. One of their shopping mall is the SM City Manila, the first SM Supermall in the city featuring major SM brands like the The SM Store, SM Supermarket, SM Cinemas and SM Foodcourt. It is located right beside the Manila City Hall. SM City San Lazaro is the second SM Supermall in Manila. It is located in Santa Cruz. SM City San Lazaro was constructed on the site of the former San Lazaro Hippodrome. The building of the former Manila Royal Hotel in Quiapo which is famed for its revolving restaurant atop is now the SM Clearance Center which was established in 1972. The site of the first SM Store is located at Carlos Palanca Sr. (formerly Echague) Street in San Miguel.
Quiapo is referred as the "Old Downtown" where tiangges, markets, botique shops, music and electronics stores are common. C.M. Recto Avenue is where lots of department stores are located. One of Recto Avenue's famous destination is Divisoria, home to numerous shopping malls in the city. It is also dubbed as the shopping mecca of the Philippines where everything is sold at bargain price. Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world, is the city's center of commerce and trade for all types of businesses run by Filipino-Chinese merchants with a wide variety of Chinese and Filipino shops and restaurants.
For over three centuries Manila was colonized and administered by Spain which left an enduring architectural heritage throughout the Philippines, especially with respect to churches, forts and other colonial buildings which can still be seen in the ruins of Intramuros, built in the late 16th century. Manila began as a settlement on the banks of the Pasig River, and its name originates from "Maynilad," referring to the mangrove plant known as nilad, which was abundant in the area. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Manila was home to Muslim-Malays. In 1571, 50 years after Magellan's discovery of the islands, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed the Philippines as a colony and established Manila as its capital. Manila was also briefly colonized by the British for two years. Manila was also part of the Spanish East Indies until 1898, when the U.S. took over the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.
Manila was first sought by the Spaniards, then the Americans. The Spaniards wanted a counterbalance to the expanding Portuguese empire which had almost taken a big slice of the pie in the lucrative Spice Trade. They got it through Manila, so strategically placed between China together with the rest of Asia, and Mexico - the next closest transit point for goods onwards from Asia to Europe.
Its location seemed a well thought out choice. Legazpi took five years after arriving in the Philippines and settling in Cebu in 1565 to mull over before deciding to finally move up north to Manila in 1571 and make it the capital of the new territory. By numbers, it shortened the traveling distance to the other side of the empire in Acapulco. Manila is also in a much easy and straighter drafting reach for sailing ships to catch the Pacific Trade Winds as they blow northeastward to Japan for Acapulco and blow precisely at San Bernardino Strait for the westward-bound return trip without being diverted any farther. Most importantly, Manila is much closer than Cebu to China.
When Mexico pushed for its independence from Spain and finally shoved her out, the Philippines' glittering importance began to dwindle due to the discontinuance of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, cutting off the Acapulco to Vera Cruz segment and it accelerated more when the Suez Canal was opened enabling the Chinese exports to go in the opposite direction and making Singapore the most important transit hub to Europe in the region. Just a token administration was maintained in Manila since the Philippines had been confined to the doldrums as one of the unreachable and hard to maintain colonies of Spain. That obscurity lasted until a new imperialist era dawned, with countries embarked on a new competition for raw materials and market.
Netherlands, Britain, and France were already there now with Germany, lurking somewhere and ready to fill in the voids about to be vacated by waning superpowers. Germany was already sniffing its way around the Pacific Ocean like a shark smelling a kill when the US, spurred by the windfall of acquiring Hawaii and which desperately wanted a toehold in Asia for her trade, notably with Japan and China, grabbed the first opportunity of grabbing the Philippines. The Philippines once more, so strategically placed as the soon-to-be-linchpin of American imperialism, extended her colonial servitude to the US.
With dynamic geo-politics working, the Philippines, and Manila in particular, proved to be manna from heaven as Japan began to flex her muscles. The result was that the Philippines served as first line of defense for Australia and the mainland US to buy time and it really proves more beneficial as another realignment was in force after World War II when communism comes into the scene and is threatening to swallow the whole of East Asia except Japan, putting the Philippines as a buffer zone for whatever adverse contingency and as long as the Manila leadership sides with the US, things will be OK.
Now that communism is under control and every country on both sides of the Pacific seemed to be embracing free market economy, all of Southeast Asia are grinding strong and busy buzzing. The factors of time, location, and distance are not a consideration anymore and what needs to be important is that Manila is as peaceful, orderly, productive, and creative as all her neighbors to win visitors' attention.
Being a city with its ears and antennae acutely tuned in to American and some European trends, and in the forefront of modernization and constant cultural refinement more than any other city in Southeast Asia or Asia as a whole, Manila witnessed or hosted innovations - political, cultural, civic etc.
Manila features a tropical savanna climate.
ogether with the rest of the Philippines, Manila lies entirely within the tropics. Its proximity to the equator means that the temperature range is very small, rarely going below 20 °C (68 °F) or above 38 °C (100 °F).
Humidity levels are usually very high all year round. Manila has a distinct dry season from December through May, and a relatively lengthy wet season that covers the remaining period with slightly cooler temperatures. In the rainy season it rarely rains all day but the rainfall is very heavy during short periods. Typhoons usually occur from June to September.
Climate data for Port Area, Manila
|Average high °C (°F)||29.5|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||25.9|
|Average low °C (°F)||22.3|
|Source #1: PAGASA|
|Source #2: Climatemps.com (sunshine)|
Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila bay, which rests on the western shores of Luzon. The city lies 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from mainland Asia. The Pasig River bisects the city.
Almost all of Manila sits on top of centuries of prehistoric alluvial deposits built by the waters of the Pasig and on some land reclaimed from Manila Bay. The city's land has been altered substantially by human intervention, with considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since the American colonial times. Some of the natural variations in topography have been evened out due to the urbanization of the city. As of 2007, the city has a land area of 24.98 square kilometres (9.64 sq mi) and has a total area of 38.55 square kilometres (14.88 sq mi).
Manila sits astride the Pacific typhoon belt and is criss-crossed by several fault lines. This led to Manila and its metropolitan region to be ranked as the second riskiest capital (city) to live in according to Swiss Re. The seismically active Marikina Valley Fault System poses a threat to Manila and the surrounding regions.
Manila endured several deadly earthquakes, notably in 1645 and in 1677 which destroyed the stone and brick medieval city.The Earthquake Baroque style was used by the Colonial architects during the Spanish colonial period in order to adapt to the frequent earthquakes.
The city is a major center for banking and finance, retailing, transportation, tourism, real estate, new media as well as traditional media, advertising, legal services, accountancy, insurance, theater, fashion, and the arts in the Philippines.
The Port of Manila is the largest seaport in the Philippines, making it the premier international shipping gateway to the country.
Binondo, the oldest and one of the largest Chinatown in the world, was the center of commerce and business activities in the city. Numerous residential and office skyscrapers are found within its medieval streets. Plans to make the Chinatown area into a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub progresses and is aggressively pursued by the city government of Manila. 30 buildings are already identified to be converted into BPO offices. These buildings are mostly located along the Escolta Street of Binondo, which are all unoccupied and can be converted into offices.
Near Binondo is Divisoria, a place in Manila dubbed as the shopping mecca of the Philippines. Clusters of shopping malls are found within this place, along with several small-scale stores that sells products and goods at bargain price. Divisoria's famous landmark is the Tutuban Center, a large shopping mall that is a part of the Philippine National Railways' Main Station. It attracts 1 million people every month, but is expected to add another 400,000 people when the LRT-2 West Extension is constructed, making it Manila's busiest transfer station.
Diverse manufacturers within the city produce industrial-related products such as chemicals, textiles, clothing, and electronic goods. Food and beverages and tobacco products also produced. Local entrepreneurs continue to process primary commodities for export, including rope, plywood, refined sugar, copra, and coconut oil. The food-processing industry is one of the most stable major manufacturing sector in the city.
The city of Manila is divided into sixteen officially defined administrative districts. These districts are subdivided into 897 barangays that are only known by sequential numbers instead of names. The districts only exist for administrative convenience and do not have their own sets of elected officials. Each geographical district is further divided into officially defined "zones," which are clusters of two or more barangays.
- Tondo — One of the most densely populated areas of the country and home to several Chinese schools in Manila. Known as one of the best food tripping area in the city due to its abundant Chinese food stalls/restaurants.
- Binondo — The oldest Chinatown in the world, famous for its authentic Chinese and Hong Kong cuisine. Its church is a fascinating fusion of Spanish Baroque & Chinese styles as shown in its pagoda bell tower.
- San Nicolas — Shares Divisoria Market with other co-district, it is the hub for the adventurous shoppers that may venture for cheap and wholesale bargains.
- Santa Cruz — Is on the edge of the Manila Chinatown, which is the district of usual frenzied mix of commercial and residential premises. It's where Escolta starts - the main artery that used to be Manila's old Wall Street and 5th Avenue during the early American Colonial period to the 1960s.
- Quiapo — Originally known as Downtown Manila, it is home to Plaza Miranda, Manila's original answer to Trafalgar Square. It is also a place famous for flowers, herbal remedies, love potions, fortune tellers, religious items, as well as electronic goods.
- Sampaloc — Known as the University Belt. The education center of Manila, home to numerous universities.
- San Miguel — Still part of the University Belt it is where the Malacañan Palace is located, the official executive seat and residence of the sitting Philippine President. It is also the birthplace of the famous and namesake San Miguel Beer.
- Santa Mesa — The residential area of Manila, home to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. A small but busy cluster of blocks in this district hosts a number of short-time love hotels and motels.
- Port Area — The country's chief seaport consisting of North and South Ports, where warehouses are arrayed elbow to elbow along docking and refueling stations for all ships, ferries, and cruise liners, and where one can witness the dramatic sunset of Manila Bay.
- Intramuros — Taken from the Spanish words, intra & muros, literally means "within the walls". Known as the History Town of the Philippines and considered as Old Manila itself during Spanish times. This district contains numerous Spanish colonial attractions such as the Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, Casa Manila, and many more.
- Ermita — One of Manila's tourist district, once known as the only Red Light District converted into a major tourist area which contains some of the most historically and culturally significant landmarks and institutions of the country such as the Rizal Park, Manila Ocean Park, National Museum of the Philippines, and the Manila Hotel.
- Malate — One of Manila's center of tourism, recreation and entertainment, home to several cheap and expensive hotels, large shopping malls, educational institutions and also shares a portion to the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex which resembles Beijing's Tienanmen, Moscow's Red Squarehome and Singapore's Marina.
- Pandacan — District home to many of the country's literary and musical geniuses, originally named after the pandan plant species.
- Paco — A working class district that started out as Little Tokyo during the Spanish era. Home to the Paco Train Station and the Paco Park, which was the former municipal cemetery of Old Manila.
- Santa Ana— Known as Sapa in ancient times, this district is the old capital of Namayan Kingdom which is the precursor of modern Metro Manila and used to be a quiet upmarket residential neighborhood comparable to Chelsea district in London during the American colonial era, but now a blighted working class district.
- San Andres Bukid — Also known as St. Andrew Fields as its English translation sounds more pleasant to the ear, was previously part of Santa Ana. It is also home to San Andres Market - another major public market, famous for its variegated fruit stalls and a little bit touristy ambiance.
Payphones are very common in the city center. The use of mobile phones is also very extensive. To use your mobile phone, it has to be at least a dualband GSM phone. Globe and Smart are the Philippine's largest mobile carriers and they invite you to use them as a roaming partner (inquire from your home carrier if they have Globe and Smart as a roaming partner).
To call anywhere within Metro Manila, simply dial the 7-digit telephone number from a payphone or a landline. If you need to call anywhere else within the Philippines, dial 0 + area code + telephone number. To make an international phone call, dial 00 + country code + area code + telephone number.
Internet cafes have become a common sight in Metro Manila. Most malls would have at least one internet cafe. Most internet cafes provide broadband speeds. Netopia and Pacific Internet are common chains. Netopia also has a branch at the MRT-3 Ayala Station. Cheap overseas calls can be made at Netopia branches via their VOIP service.
Most coffee shops now also have WiFi services available so you can surf the net while sipping a cuppa. Airborneaccess.net and WIZ are the most common WiFi providers. Ask around if usage is free of charge, otherwise, as the case is often, you will have to buy an internet access card at the counter.