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Manila (/məˈnɪlə/ mə-NIH-lə, Spanish: [ma'nila]; Filipino: Maynila, pronounced [majˈnilaʔ]), officially the City of Manila (Filipino: Lungsod ng Maynila [luŋˈsod nɐŋ majˈnilaʔ]), is the capital of the Philippines, and its second most populous city. It is highly urbanized and as of 2019 was the world's most densely populated city proper.[11] It was the first chartered city in the country, designated as such by the Philippine Commission Act 183 of July 31, 1901. It became autonomous with the passage of Republic Act No. 409, "The Revised Charter of the City of Manila," on June 18, 1949.[12] Manila, along with Mexico City and Madrid, is considered the world's original set of Global Cities due to Manila's commercial networks were the first to extend across the Pacific Ocean and connect Asia with the Spanish Americas. When this was accomplished, it marked the first time in world history that an uninterrupted chain of trade routes circling the planet had been established.[13] Manila is the second most natural-disaster-afflicted capital city in the world after Tokyo.[14] At the same time, it is nevertheless among the most populous and fastest growing cities in Southeast Asia.[15]

The Spanish city of Manila was founded on June 24, 1571, by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi. This is regarded as the city's official founding date; however, a Tagalog-fortified polity called Maynilà had already existed on the site, dating back as far as 1258. It is the name of this old polity from which the Spanish and English name Manila derives. After the defeat of the polity's last indigenous Rajah, Sulayman III, in the Battle of Bangkusay, a fortified Spanish city called Intramuros was built directly on top of the site of old Maynilà. Manila was the seat of power for most of the country's colonial rulers. Today, it is home to many historic sites, some of which were built during the 16th century. Many of the Philippines' "firsts" are in Manila, including the first university (1590),[16] light station (1642), lighthouse tower (1846), water system (1878), hotel (1889), electricity (1895), oceanarium (1913),[17] stock exchange (1927), flyover (1930s), zoo (1959), pedestrian underpass (1960),[18] science high school (1963),[19] city-run university (1965), city-run hospital (1969), and rapid transit system (1984) – also considered to be the first rapid transit system in all of Southeast Asia).[20]

The term "Manila" is commonly used to refer to the whole metropolitan area, the greater metropolitan area or the city proper. The officially defined metropolitan area, called Metro Manila, the "capital region" of the Philippines, also includes the much larger Quezon City and the Makati Central Business District. It is the most populous region in the country, one of the most populous urban areas in the world,[21] and is one of the wealthiest regions in Southeast Asia.[22] The city proper was home to 1,780,148 people in 2015, [6] and is the historic core of a built-up area that extends well beyond its administrative limits. With 71,263 people per square kilometer, Manila is the most densely populated city proper in the world. [6][7]

Manila is located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay. The Pasig River flows through the middle of the city, dividing it into the north and south sections. The city comprises 16 administrative districts: Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa and Tondo. It is divided into six political districts for the purposes of its representation in the Congress of the Philippines and the election of city council members. In 2018, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network listed Manila as an "Alpha-" global city[23] and ranked it seventh in economic performance globally and second regionally (behind Delhi, India in the latter case),[24] while the Global Financial Centres Index ranks Manila 103rd in the world.[25]


Maynilà, the Filipino name for the city, comes from the phrase may-nilà, meaning "where indigo is found".[26] Nilà is derived from the Sanskrit word nīla (नील), which refers to indigo – and, by extension, to several plant species from which this natural dye can be extracted.[26][27] The name Maynilà was probably bestowed because of the indigo-yielding plants that grow in the area surrounding the settlement, and not because it was known as a settlement that traded in indigo dye:[26] Indigo-dye extraction became an important economic activity in the area only in the 18th century, several hundred years after the Maynila settlement was founded and named.[26] The native Tagalog word for the indigo plant, tayum (and variants of that word)[26][28] can be discerned in several toponyms in the Philippines: Tayuman Street (meaning "where the indigo [plant] is") in Manila, as well as Tayum, in Abra, and Tagum, in Davao del Norte.

Maynilà was eventually adopted into Spanish as Manila.


Plate depicting the "nilad" plant (Scyphiphora hydrophylacea), from Augustinian missionary Fray Francisco Manuel Blanco's botanical reference, "Flora de Filipinas"

An antiquated, inaccurate, and now debunked etymological theory held that the city's name originated from the word may-nilad (meaning "where nilad is found").[26] There are two versions of this false etymology. One popular incorrect notion is that the old word nilad refers to the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) that grows on the banks of the Pasig River.[26] However, this plant species was only recently introduced into the Philippines from South America, and therefore could not have been the source of the toponym for old Manila.[26]

Another incorrect etymology has arisen from the observation that, in Tagalog, nilád or nilár refers to a shrub-like tree (Scyphiphora hydrophyllacea; formerly Ixora manila Blanco) that grows in or near mangrove swamps.[26][29][30]

However, linguistic analysis shows that the word Maynilà is unlikely to have developed from this term. It is unlikely that native Tagalog speakers would completely drop the final consonant /d/ in nilad to arrive at the present form Maynilà.[26] As an example, nearby Bacoor still retains the final consonant of the old Tagalog word bakoód ("elevated piece of land"), even in old Spanish renderings of the placename (e.g., Vacol, Bacor).[31] Moreover, the historians Ambeth Ocampo[32][33] and Joseph Baumgartner[26] have shown that, in every early document, the place name Maynilà was always written without a final /d/. This documentation shows conclusively that the may-nilad etymology is spurious.

The misidentification of nilad as the source of the toponym appears to have originated in an 1887 essay written by Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, in which he mistakenly used the word nila to refer both to Indigofera tinctoria (true indigo) and to Ixora manila (which is actually nilád in Tagalog[30]).[27][26] Early 20th century writings, such as those of Julio Nakpil[34] and of Blair and Robertson, then simply repeated the claim.[35][33] Today, this erroneous etymology continues to be perpetuated through casual repetition in both literature[36][37] and in popular use. Examples of popular adoption of this mistaken etymology include the name of a local utility, Maynilad Water Services, and the name of an underpass close to Manila City Hall, Lagusnilad (meaning "Nilad Pass").[32]


Early history[edit]

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is the oldest historical record in the Philippines. It has the first historical reference to Tondo and dates back to Saka 822 (c. 900).

The earliest evidence of human life around present-day Manila is the nearby Angono Petroglyphs, dated to around 3000 BC. Negritos, the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, lived across the island of Luzon, where Manila is located, before the Malayo-Polynesians migrated in and assimilated them.[38]

Manila was an active trade partner with the Song and Yuan dynasties.[39] The polity of Tondo flourished during the latter half of the Ming dynasty as a result of direct trade relations with China. The Tondo district was the traditional capital of the empire, and its rulers were sovereign kings, not mere chieftains. Tondo was christened under the traditional Chinese characters in the Hokkien reading, Chinese: 東都; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tong-to͘; lit. 'Eastern Capital', due to its chief position located southeast of China. The kings of Tondo were addressed variously as panginoón in Tagalog ("lords") or panginuan in Maranao; anák banwa ("son of heaven"); or lakandula ("lord of the palace"). The Emperor of China considered the Lakans—the rulers of ancient Manila—"王", or kings.[40]

In the 13th century, Manila consisted of a fortified settlement and trading quarter on the shore of the Pasig River. It was then settled by the Indianized empire of Majapahit, as recorded in the epic eulogy poem "Nagarakretagama", which described the area's conquest by Maharaja Hayam Wuruk.[40] Selurong (षेलुरोङ्), a historical name for Manila, is listed in Canto 14 alongside Sulot, which is now Sulu, and Kalka. Selurong (Manila) together with Sulot (Sulu) was able to regain independence afterwards and Sulu even attacked and looted the Majapahit province of Po-ni (Brunei) in retribution.[40]

During the reign of the Arab Emir, Sharif Ali's descendant, Sultan Bolkiah, from 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei which had seceded from Hindu Majapahit and became a Muslim, had invaded the area. The Bruneians wanted to take advantage of Tondo's strategic position in trade with China and Indonesia and thus attacked its environs and established the Muslim Rajahnate of Maynilà (كوتا سلودوڠ; Kota Seludong). The rajahnate was ruled under and gave yearly tribute to the Sultanate of Brunei as a satellite state.[41] It created a new dynasty under the local leader, who accepted Islam and became Rajah Salalila or Sulaiman I. He established a trading challenge to the already rich House of Lakan Dula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival of Muslim traders from the Middle East and Southeast Asia.[42]

Spanish period[edit]

1734 map of the Walled City of Manila. The city was planned according to the Laws of the Indies.
Ayuntamiento de Manila served as the City Hall during the Spanish Colonial Period.

On June 24, 1571, the conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Manila and declared it a territory of New Spain (Mexico), establishing a city council in what is now the district of Intramuros. Inspired by the Reconquista, a war in mainland Spain to rechristianize and reclaim the parts of the country which once fell to the Ummayad Caliphate's rule, he took advantage of a Hindu Tondo versus Islamic Manila territorial conflict to justify expelling or converting Bruneian Muslim colonists who supported their Manila vassals while his Mexican grandson Juan de Salcedo had a romance with a princess of Tondo, Gandarapa.[43] López de Legazpi had the local royalty executed or exiled after the failure of the Conspiracy of the Maharlikas, a plot wherein an alliance between datus, rajahs, Japanese merchants and the Sultanate of Brunei would band together to execute the Spaniards, along with their Latin American recruits and Visayan allies. The victorious Spaniards made Manila, the capital of the Spanish East Indies and of the Philippines, which their empire would control for the next three centuries. In 1574, Manila was temporarily besieged by the Chinese pirate Lim Hong, who was ultimately thwarted by the local inhabitants. Upon Spanish settlement, Manila was immediately made, by papal decree, a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Mexico. Then, by royal decree of Philip II of Spain, the city of Manila was put under the spiritual patronage of Saint Pudentiana and Our Lady of Guidance (Spurred by a locally found sacred image i.e. a Black Madonna of unknown origin; one theory is that it is from Portuguese-Macau, another is that, it is a Tantric goddess and this was worshiped by the natives in a Pagan-Hindu manner and had survived Islamic iconoclasm by the Sultanate of Brunei. This image was interpreted to be of Marian nature, and it was found during the Miguel de Legazpi expedition and eventually a Mexican hermit built a chapel around that image).

Manila became famous for its role in the Manila–Acapulco galleon trade, which lasted for more than two centuries and brought goods from Europe, Africa and Hispanic America across the Pacific Islands to Southeast Asia (which was already an entrepôt for goods coming from India, Indonesia and China), and vice versa. Silver that was mined in Mexico and Peru was exchanged for Chinese silk, Indian gems and the spices of Indonesia and Malaysia. Likewise, wines and olives grown in Europe and North Africa were shipped via Mexico to Manila.[44] In 1606, upon the Spanish conquest of the Sultanate of Ternate, one of monopolizers of the growing of spice, the Spanish deported the Sultan of Ternate along with his clan and his entire entourage to Manila were they were initially enslaved and eventually converted to Christianity.[45] About 200 families of mixed Mexican-Filipino-Spanish and Papuan-Indonesian-Portuguese descent from Ternate and Tidor followed him there at a later date.[46] The city attained great wealth due to it being at the confluence of three great commercial exchanges: the Silk Road, the Spice Route and the Silver Flow. In 1762, the city was captured by Great Britain as part of the Seven Years' War, which Spain had recently become involved in.[47] The city was then occupied by the British for twenty months from 1762 to 1764 in their attempt to capture the Spanish East Indies, but they proved to be unable to extend their occupation past Manila proper.[48] Frustrated by their inability to take the rest of the archipelago, the British eventually withdrew in accordance with the Treaty of Paris signed in 1763, which brought an end to the war. An unknown number of Indian soldiers known as sepoys, who came with the British, deserted and settled in nearby Cainta, Rizal, which explains the uniquely Indian features of generations of Cainta residents.[49][50]

The Chinese minority were then punished for supporting the British, and the fortress city of Intramuros, initially populated by 1,200 Spanish families and garrisoned by 400 Spanish troops,[51] kept its cannons pointed at Binondo, the world's oldest Chinatown.[52] The Mexican population was concentrated at the south part of Manila,[53][54] and also at Cavite, where ships from Spain's American colonies docked, and at Ermita, an area so named because of a Mexican hermit that lived there. The Philippines hosts the only Latin American-established districts in Asia.[55] When the Spanish evacuated Ternate, they settled the Papuan refugees in Ternate, Cavite which was named after their former homeland.[56]

Tutuban Main Station, which was built in 1887, is the main terminal of the Ferrocaril de Manila-Dagupan (now known as the Philippine National Railways). At the present moment, it serves as a shopping center and a public transit hub.

The rise of Spanish Manila marked the first time in world history where all hemispheres and continents were interconnected in a worldwide trade network. Thus, making Manila, alongside Mexico and Madrid, the world's original set of Global Cities, predating the ascent of modern Alpha++ class world cities like New York or London as global financial centers, by hundreds of years.[57] A Spanish Jesuit Priest commented that due to the confluence of many foreign languages gathering in Manila, he said that the confessional in Manila is "the most difficult in the world".[58] Another Spanish missionary in the 1600s by the name of Fray Juan de Cobo was so astonished by the manifold commerce, cultural complexity and ethnic diversity in Manila he thus wrote the following to his brethren in Mexico:

"The diversity here is immense such that I could go on forever trying to differentiate lands and peoples. There are Castilians from all provinces. There are Portuguese and Italians; Dutch, Greeks and Canary Islanders, and Mexican Indians. There are slaves from Africa brought by the Spaniards [Through America], and others brought by the Portuguese [Through India]. There is an African Moor with his turban here. There are Javanese from Java, Japanese and Bengalese from Bengal. Among all these people are the Chinese whose numbers here are untold and who outnumber everyone else. From China there are peoples so different from each other, and from provinces as distant, as Italy is from Spain. Finally, of the mestizos, the mixed-race people here, I cannot even write because in Manila there is no limit to combinations of peoples with peoples. This is in the city where all the buzz is." (Remesal, 1629: 680–1)

— [59]

After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the Spanish crown began to govern Manila directly.[60] Under direct Spanish rule, banking, industry and education flourished more than they had in the previous two centuries.[61] The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 facilitated direct trade and communications with Spain. The city's growing wealth and education attracted indigenous peoples, Negritos, Malays, Africans, Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Europeans, Latinos and Papuans from the surrounding provinces[62] and facilitated the rise of an ilustrado class that espoused liberal ideas: the ideological foundations of the Philippine Revolution, which sought independence from Spain. A revolt by Andres Novales was inspired by the Latin American wars of independence as the revolt itself was lead by demoted Latin-American military officers stationed at the city, from the then newly independent nations of Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica.[63] Following the Cavite Mutiny and the Propaganda Movement, the Philippine revolution eventually erupted, Manila was among the first eight provinces to rebel and thus their role was immortalized in the Philippine Flag where Manila was marked as one of the eight rays of the symbolic sun.

American period[edit]

The 1905 Burnham Plan of Manila recommended improving the city's transit systems by creating diagonal arteries radiating from the new central civic district into areas at the outskirts of the city.
Prewar Manila Post Office Building and Jones Bridge.
A Tranvia running along Escolta Street during the American period.

After the 1898 Battle of Manila, Spain ceded Manila to the United States. The First Philippine Republic, based in nearby Bulacan, fought against the Americans for control of the city.[64] The Americans defeated the First Philippine Republic captured President Emilio Aguinaldo, who declared allegiance to the United States on April 1, 1901.

Upon drafting a new charter for Manila in June 1901, the Americans made official what had long been tacit: that the city of Manila consisted not of Intramuros alone but also of the surrounding areas. The new charter proclaimed that Manila was composed of eleven municipal districts: presumably Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Sampaloc, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz and Tondo. In addition, the Catholic Church recognized five parishes—Gagalangin, Trozo, Balic-Balic, Santa Mesa and Singalong—as part of Manila. Later, two more would be added: Balut and San Andres.[65]

Under American control, a new, civilian-oriented Insular Government headed by Governor-General William Howard Taft invited city planner Daniel Burnham to adapt Manila to modern needs.[66] The Burnham Plan included the development of a road system, the use of waterways for transportation, and the beautification of Manila with waterfront improvements and construction of parks, parkways and buildings.[67][68] The planned buildings included a government center occupying all of Wallace Field, which extends from Rizal Park to the present Taft Avenue. The Philippine Capitol was to rise at the Taft Avenue end of the field, facing toward the sea. Along with buildings for various government bureaus and departments, it would form a quadrangle with a lagoon in the center and a monument to José Rizal at the other end of the field. Of Burnham's proposed government center, only three units—the Legislative Building and the buildings of the Finance and Agricultural Departments—were completed when World War II erupted.

Japanese occupation and World War II[edit]

The destruction brought about by the Battle of Manila in 1945

During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, American soldiers were ordered to withdraw from Manila, and all military installations were removed on December 24, 1941. Two days later, General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an open city to prevent further death and destruction, but Japanese warplanes continued to bomb it. Manila was occupied by Japanese forces on January 2, 1942.

From February 3 to March 3, 1945, Manila was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theater of World War II. Some 100,000 civilians were killed in February.[69] At the end of the battle, Manila was recaptured by joint American and Philippine troops. The Manila massacre occurs on the same date.

It was after the many times when Manila was once again destroyed by war, when the city earned the moniker "The City of Our Affections". This nickname was given by National Artist and writer Nick Joaquin, in reference to the spirit of resilience the city has had in the face of the constant wars that have razed it and also in repeatedly surviving and rebuilding despite being the second-most natural disaster prone city in the world.[70] This is reflected in the noble spirit of Manileños and Filipinos who, despite having the second-most disaster prone capital city in the world and also the second-most war devastated capital city in recent history, are the most generous nationality in Southeast Asia and the 17th most generous nationality worldwide.[71] Manila (and the Philippines in general) is also among the top sources of missionaries worldwide.[72] This is explained by the fact that the Philippines is one of the most fervently Christian countries in the world and is ranked as the 5th most religious country, globally.[73]

Post-war years and the martial law era (1945–1986)[edit]

Rizal Avenue in the 1970s before the construction of Line 1

After the war, reconstruction was made. Buildings like the Manila City Hall, Legislative Building(now the National Museum of Fine Arts) and Manila Post Office. The roads and other infrastructures are also rebuilt. In 1948, President Elpidio Quirino moved the seat of government of the Philippines to Quezon City, a new capital in the suburbs and fields northeast of Manila, created in 1939 during the administration of President Manuel L. Quezon.[74] The move ended any implementation of the Burnham Plan's intent for the government center to be at Luneta.

With the Visayan-born Arsenio Lacson as its first elected mayor in 1952 (all mayors were appointed before this), Manila underwent The Golden Age,[75] once again earning its status as the "Pearl of the Orient", a moniker it earned before the Second World War. After Lacson's term in the 1950s, Manila was led by Antonio Villegas for most of the 1960s. Ramon Bagatsing (an Indian-Filipino) was mayor for nearly the entire 1970s until the 1986 People Power Revolution. Mayors Lacson, Villegas, and Bagatsing are collectively known as the "Big Three of Manila" for their contribution to the development of the city and their lasting legacy in improving the quality of life and welfare of the people of Manila.

During the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, the region of Metro Manila was created as an integrated unit with the enactment of Presidential Decree No. 824 on November 7, 1975. The area encompassed four cities and thirteen adjoining towns, as a separate regional unit of government.[76] On the 405th anniversary of the city's foundation on June 24, 1976, Manila was reinstated by President Marcos as the capital of the Philippines for its historical significance as the seat of government since the Spanish Period. Presidential Decree No. 940 states that Manila has always been to the Filipino people and in the eyes of the world, the premier city of the Philippines being the center of trade, commerce, education and culture.[77] Concurrent with the reinstatement of Manila as the capital, Ferdinand Marcos designated his wife, Imelda Marcos, as the first governor of Metro Manila. She started the rejuvenation of the city as she re-branded Manila as the "City of Man".[78]

During the martial law era, Manila became a hot-bed of resistance activity as youth and student demonstrators repeatedly clashed with the police and military which were subservient to the Marcos regime. After decades of resistance, the non-violent People Power Revolution, led by Corazon Aquino and Cardinal Jaime Sin, ousted the dictator Marcos from power.[79]

Contemporary period (1986–present)[edit]

From 1986 to 1992, Mel Lopez was mayor of Manila. During his early years, his administration was faced with 700 million pesos worth of debt and inherited an empty treasury. In the first eleven months, however, the debt was reduced to 365 million pesos and the city's income rose by around 70% eventually leaving the city with positive income until the end of his term. Lopez closed down numerous illegal gambling joints and jueteng. In January 1990, Lopez padlocked two Manila casinos operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), saying the billions it gained cannot make up for the negative effects gambling inflicts upon the people, particularly the youth. He also revived the Boys' Town Haven (now referred to as "Boys Town"), rehabilitating its facilities to accommodate underprivileged children and provide them with livelihood and education.

In 1992, Alfredo Lim was elected mayor, the first Chinese-Filipino to hold the office. He was known for his anti-crime crusades. Lim was succeeded by Lito Atienza, who served as his vice mayor. Atienza was known for his campaign (and city slogan) "Buhayin ang Maynila" (Revive Manila), which saw the establishment of several parks and the repair and rehabilitation of the city's deteriorating facilities. He was the city's mayor for 3 terms (9 years) before being termed out of office. Lim once again ran for mayor and defeated Atienza's son Ali in the 2007 city election and immediately reversed all of Atienza's projects[80] claiming Atienza's projects made little contribution to the improvements of the city. The relationship of both parties turned bitter, with the two pitting again during the 2010 city elections in which Lim won against Atienza. Lim was sued by councilor Dennis Alcoreza on 2008 over human rights,[81] charged with graft over the rehabilitation of public schools,[82] and was heavily criticized for his haphazard resolution of the Rizal Park hostage taking incident, one of the deadliest hostage crisis in the Philippines. Later on, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and 28 city councilors filed another case against Lim in 2012, stating that Lim's statement in a meeting were "life-threatening" to them.[83]

View of the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park with the controversial Torre de Manila looming in the background.

In 2012, DMCI Homes began constructing Torre de Manila, which became controversial for ruining the sight line of Rizal Park.[84] The tower is infamously known as "Terror de Manila" or the "national photobomber".[85] The Torre de Manila controversy is regarded as one of the most sensationalized heritage issues of the country. In 2017, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines erected a 'comfort woman' statue along Roxas Boulevard, which made Japan express regret that such statue was erected in the city despite the healthy relationship between Japan and the Philippines.[86][87]

In the 2013 elections, former President Joseph Estrada defeated Lim in the mayoral race. During his term, Estrada allegedly paid ₱5 billion in city debts and increased the city's revenues. In 2015, in line with President Noynoy Aquino's administration progress, the city became the most competitive city in the Philippines, making the city the best place for doing business and for living in. In the 2016 elections, Estrada narrowly won over Lim in their electoral rematch.[88] Throughout Estrada's term, numerous Filipino heritage sites were demolished, gutted out, or approved for demolition. Among such sites are the post-war Santa Cruz Building, Capitol Theater, El Hogar, old Magnolia Ice Cream Plant, and Rizal Memorial Stadium, among many others[89][90][91] Some of these sites were saved upon the intervention of various cultural agencies of government and heritage advocate groups against Estrada's orders.[92] In May 2019, Estrada claimed that Manila was debt-free,[93] however, two months later, the Commission on Audit verified that Manila has a total of 4.4 billion pesos in debt.[94]

Skyline of Manila as seen from Harbour Square.

Estrada, who was seeking for re-election for his third and final term, lost to Isko Moreno in the 2019 local elections.[95][96] Moreno has served as the Vice Mayor under both the Lim and Estrada administrations. Estrada's defeat was seen as the end of their reign as a political clan, whose other family members run for various national and local positions.[97] After assuming office, Moreno initiated a city-wide cleanup against illegal vendors, signed an executive order promoting open governance, and vowed to stop bribery and corruption in the city.[98] Under his administration, several ordinances were signed, giving additional perks and privileges to Manila's senior citizens,[99] and monthly allowances for Grade 12 Manileño students in all public schools in the city, including students of Universidad de Manila and the University of the City of Manila.[100][101] The city government also undertook infrastructure projects such as the restoration of Jones Bridge to its near-original architecture, sprucing up the city's parks and plazas, and clearing the public roads of obstructions.

On March 12, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the city and the entire region of Metro Manila under a community quarantine starting March 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[102] A Luzon-wide "enhanced community quarantine" order was issued on March 16.[103] The enhanced community quarantine lasted until May 31, 2020, after which a general community quarantine began to be implemented.[104]


The Manila Bay sunset
The Manila Bay Beach during the International Coastal Cleanup Day in September 2020.

The City of Manila is situated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay, on the western edge of Luzon, 1,300 km (810 mi) from mainland Asia.[105] One of Manila's greatest natural resources is the protected harbor upon which it sits, regarded as the finest in all of Asia.[106] The Pasig River flows through the middle of city, dividing it into the north and south.[3][4] The overall grade of the city's central, built-up areas, is relatively consistent with the natural flatness of its overall natural geography, generally exhibiting only slight differentiation otherwise.

Almost all of Manila sits on top of centuries of prehistoric alluvial deposits built by the waters of the Pasig River and on some land reclaimed from Manila Bay. Manila's land has been altered substantially by human intervention, with considerable land reclamation along the waterfronts since the American colonial times. Some of the city's natural variations in topography have been evened out. As of 2013, Manila had a total area of 42.88 square kilometers.[3][4]

In 2017, the City Government approved five reclamation projects: the New Manila Bay–City of Pearl (New Manila Bay International Community) (407.43 hectares), Solar City (148 hectares), the Manila Harbour Center expansion (50 hectares), Manila Waterfront City (318 hectares)[107] and Horizon Manila (419 hectares). Out of the five planned reclamation, only Horizon Manila was approved by the Philippine Reclamation Authority in December 2019 and was slated for construction in 2021.[108] Another reclamation project is possible and when built, it will contain the in-city housing relocation projects.[109] Reclamation projects have been criticized by environmental activists and the Philippine Catholic Church, claiming that these are not sustainable and would put communities at risk of flooding.[110][111] In line of the upcoming reclamation projects, the Philippines and the Netherlands forged a cooperation to craft the ₱250 million Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan to guide future decisions on programs and projects on Manila Bay.[112]


Temperature and rainfall

Under the Köppen climate classification system, Manila has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw), bordering closely on a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am). Together with the rest of the Philippines, Manila lies entirely within the tropics. Its proximity to the equator means that temperatures are hot year-round especially during the daytime, rarely going below 19 °C (66.2 °F) or above 39 °C (102.2 °F). Temperature extremes have ranged from 14.5 °C (58.1 °F) on January 11, 1914,[113] to 38.6 °C (101.5 °F) on May 7, 1915.[114]

Humidity levels are usually very high all year round, making the temperature feel hotter than it is. Manila has a distinct dry season from late December through early April, and a relatively lengthy wet season that covers the remaining period with slightly cooler temperatures during the daytime. In the wet season, it rarely rains all day, but rainfall is very heavy during short periods. Typhoons usually occur from June to September.[115]

Natural hazards[edit]

Swiss Re ranked Manila as the second riskiest capital city to live in, citing its exposure to natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, floods and landslides.[14] The seismically active Marikina Valley Fault System poses a threat of a large-scale earthquake with an estimated magnitude between 6–7 and as high as 7.6[119] to Metro Manila and nearby provinces.[120] Manila has endured several deadly earthquakes, notably in 1645 and in 1677 which destroyed the stone and brick medieval city.[121] The Earthquake Baroque style was used by architects during the Spanish colonial period in order to adapt to the frequent earthquakes.[122]

Manila is hit with five to seven typhoons yearly.[123] In 2009, Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) struck the Philippines. It led to one of the worst floodings in Metro Manila and several provinces in Luzon with an estimated damages worth ₱11 billion ($237 million).[124][125] The floodings caused 448 deaths in Metro Manila alone. Following the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana, the city began to dredge its rivers and improve its drainage network.


Air pollution in Quiapo-Binondo area.

Due to industrial waste and automobiles, Manila suffers from air pollution,[126][127] affecting 98% of the population.[128] Air pollution alone causes more than 4,000 deaths yearly.[129] In a 1995 report, Ermita is regarded as Manila's most air polluted district due to open dump sites and industrial waste.[130] According to a report in 2003, the Pasig River is one of the most polluted rivers in the world with 150 tons of domestic waste and 75 tons of industrial waste dumped daily.[131] The city is the second biggest waste producer in the country with 1,151.79 tons (7,500.07 cubic meters) per day, after Quezon City which yields 1,386.84 tons or 12,730.59 cubic meters per day. Both cities were cited as having poor management in garbage collection and disposal.[132]

The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is in charge of cleaning up the Pasig River and tributaries for transportation, recreation and tourism purposes.[133] Rehabilitation efforts have resulted in the creation of parks along the riverside, along with stricter pollution controls.[134][135] In 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has launched a rehabilitation program for Manila Bay that will be administered by different government agencies.[136][137]


Street map of Manila city proper, with points of interest indicated

Manila is a planned city. In 1905, American Architect and Urban Planner Daniel Burnham was commissioned to design the new capital. His design for the city was based on the City Beautiful movement, which features broad streets and avenues radiating out from rectangles. The city is made up of fourteen city districts, according to Republic Act No. 409—the Revised Charter of the City of Manila—the basis of which officially sets the present-day boundary of the city.[138] Two districts were later created, which are Santa Mesa (partitioned off from Sampaloc) and San Andres (partitioned off from Santa Ana).

Manila's mix of architectural styles reflects the turbulent history of the city and country. During the Second World War, Manila was razed to the ground by the Japanese forces and the shelling of American forces. After the liberation, rebuilding began and most of the historical buildings were thoroughly reconstructed. However, some of the historic buildings from the 19th century that had been preserved in reasonably reconstructible form were nonetheless eradicated or otherwise left to deteriorate. Manila's current urban landscape is one of modern and contemporary architecture.


The façade of the Manila Metropolitan Theater, designed by Filipino architect Juan M. Arellano
Jones Bridge was redeveloped in 2019 to "restore" it to its near-original design using Beaux-Arts architecture.

Manila is known for its eclectic mix of architecture that shows a wide range of styles spanning different historical and cultural periods. Architectural styles reflect American, Spanish, Chinese, and Malay influences.[139] Prominent Filipino architects such as Antonio Toledo, Felipe Roxas, Juan M. Arellano and Tomás Mapúa have designed significant buildings in Manila such as churches, government offices, theaters, mansions, schools and universities.

Manila is also famed for its Art Deco theaters. Some of these were designed by National Artists for Architecture such as Juan Nakpil and Pablo Antonio. Unfortunately most of these theaters were neglected, and some of it have been demolished. The historic Escolta Street in Binondo features many buildings of Neoclassical and Beaux-Arts architectural style, many of which were designed by prominent Filipino architects during the American Rule in the 1920s to the late 1930s. Many architects, artists, historians and heritage advocacy groups are pushing for the rehabilitation of Escolta Street, which was once the premier street of the Philippines.[140]

The Luneta Hotel, an example of French Renaissance architecture with Filipino stylized beaux art

Almost all of Manila's prewar and Spanish colonial architecture were destroyed during its battle for liberation by the intensive bombardment of the United States Air Force during World War II. Reconstruction took place afterwards, replacing the destroyed historic Spanish-era buildings with modern ones, erasing much of the city's character. Some buildings destroyed by the war have been reconstructed, such as the Old Legislative Building (now the National Museum of Fine Arts), Ayuntamiento de Manila (now the Bureau of the Treasury) and the under construction San Ignacio Church and Convent (as the Museo de Intramuros). There are plans to rehabilitate and/or restore several neglected historic buildings and places such as Plaza Del Carmen, San Sebastian Church and the Manila Metropolitan Theater. Spanish-era shops and houses in the districts of Binondo, Quiapo, and San Nicolas are also planned to be restored, as a part of a movement to restore the city to its former glory and its beautiful prewar state.[141][142]

Since Manila is prone to earthquakes, the Spanish colonial architects invented the style called Earthquake Baroque which the churches and government buildings during the Spanish colonial period adopted.[122] As a result, succeeding earthquakes of the 18th and 19th centuries barely affected Manila, although it did periodically level the surrounding area. Modern buildings in and around Manila are designed or have been retrofitted to withstand an 8.2 magnitude quake in accordance to the country's building code.[143]


People flocking the street market at Plaza Miranda.

According to the 2015 census, the population of the city was 1,780,148, making it the second most populous city in the Philippines. [6] Manila is the most densely populated city in the world, with 41,515 inhabitants per km2 in 2015.[7] District 6 is listed as being the most dense with 68,266 inhabitants per km2, followed by District 1 with 64,936 and District 2 with 64,710. District 5 is the least densely populated area with 19,235.[148]

Manila's population density dwarfs that of Kolkata (24,252 inhabitants per km2),[149] Mumbai (20,482 inhabitants per km2), Paris (20,164 inhabitants per km2), Dhaka (29,069 inhabitants per km2), Shanghai (16,364 inhabitants per km2, with its most dense district, Nanshi, having a density of 56,785 inhabitants per km2), and Tokyo (10,087 inhabitants per km2).[148]

Manila has been presumed to be the Philippines' largest city since the establishment of a permanent Spanish settlement with the city eventually becoming the political, commercial and ecclesiastical capital of the country.[150] Its population increased dramatically since the 1903 census as the population tended to move from rural areas to towns and cities. In the 1960 census, Manila became the first Philippine city to breach the one million mark (more than 5 times of its 1903 population). The city continued to grow until the population somehow "stabilized" at 1.6 million and experienced alternating increase and decrease starting the 1990 census year. This phenomenon may be attributed to the higher growth experience by suburbs and the already very high population density of city. As such, Manila exhibited a decreasing percentage share to the metropolitan population[151] from as high as 63% in the 1950s to 27.5%[152] in 1980 and then to 13.8% in 2015. The much larger Quezon City marginally surpassed the population of Manila in 1990 and by the 2015 census already has 1.1 million people more. Nationally, the population of Manila is expected to be overtaken by cities with larger territories such as Caloocan and Davao City by 2020.[153]

The vernacular language is Filipino, based mostly on the Tagalog language of surrounding areas, and this Manila form of spoken Tagalog has essentially become the lingua franca of the Philippines, having spread throughout the archipelago through mass media and entertainment. English is the language most widely used in education, business, and heavily in everyday usage throughout Metro Manila and the Philippines itself.

A scant number of residents can speak Spanish, and many children of Japanese, Indian, and other origins also speak their parents' languages at home,( such as German, Greek, French and Korean) aside from English and/or Filipino for everyday use. A variant of Southern Min, Hokkien (locally known as Lan'nang-oe) is mainly spoken by the city's Chinese-Filipino community. According to data provided by the Bureau of Immigration, a total of 3.12 million Chinese citizens arrived in the Philippines from January 2016 to May 2018.[154]


A Toyota Vios of the Manila Police District

Crime in Manila is concentrated in areas associated with poverty, drug abuse, and gangs. Crime in the city is also directly related to its changing demographics and unique criminal justice system. Illegal drug trade is a major problem of the city. In Metro Manila alone, 92% of the barangays are affected by illegal drugs.[155]

From 2010 to 2015, the city had the second highest index crime rates in the Philippines, with 54,689 cases or an average of about 9,100 cases per year.[156] By October 2017, the Manila Police District (MPD) reported a 38.7% decrease in index crimes, from 5,474 cases in 2016 to only 3,393 in 2017. MPD's crime solution efficiency also improved, wherein six to seven out of 10 crimes have been solved by the city police force.[157] MPD was cited was the Best Police District in Metro Manila in 2017 for registering the highest crime solution efficiency.[158]


Religion in Manila[159]

  Catholicism (93.5%)
  Iglesia ni Cristo (1.9%)
  Protestantism (1.8%)
  Buddhism (1.1%)
  Other (1.4%)


As a result of Spanish cultural influence, Manila is a predominantly Christian city. As of 2010, Roman Catholics were 93.5% of the population, followed by adherents of the Iglesia ni Cristo (1.9%); various Protestant churches (1.8%); and Buddhists (1.1%). Members of Islam and other religions make up the remaining 1.4% of its population.[159]

Manila is the seat of prominent Catholic churches and institutions. There are 113 Catholic churches within the city limits; 63 are considered as major shrines, basilicas, or a cathedral.[160] The Manila Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and the oldest established church in the country.[161] Aside from the Manila Cathedral, there are also three other basilicas in the city: Quiapo Church, Binondo Church, and the Minor Basilica of San Sebastián. The San Agustín Church in Intramuros is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the two fully air-conditioned Catholic churches in the city. Manila also has other parishes located throughout the city, with some of them dating back to the Spanish Colonial Period when the city serves as the base for numerous Catholic missions both within the Philippines and to Asia beyond.

Several Mainline Protestant denominations are headquartered in the city. St. Stephen's Parish pro-cathedral in the Santa Cruz district is the see of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines' Diocese of Central Philippines, while align Taft Avenue are the main cathedral and central offices of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (also called the Aglipayan Church, a national church that was a product of the Philippine Revolution). Other faiths like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has several churches in the city.

The indigenous Iglesia ni Cristo has several locales (akin to parishes) in the city, including its very first chapel (now a museum) in Punta, Santa Ana. Evangelical, Pentecostal and Seventh-day Adventist denominations also thrive within the city. The headquarters of the Philippine Bible Society is in Manila. Also, the main campus of the Cathedral of Praise is located along Taft Avenue. Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide also has several branches and campuses in Manila, and celebrates its anniversary yearly at the Burnham Green and Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park.

  • Manila Cathedral is the seat of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila

  • The Minor Basilica of San Sebastián is the only all-steel church in Asia.[162]

  • San Agustín Church in Intramuros, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Binondo Church serves the Roman Catholic Chinese community

  • Quiapo Church, home of the iconic Black Nazarene whose Traslacion feast is celebrated every January 9

Other faiths[edit]

There are many Taoist and Buddhist temples like Seng Guan Temple and Ocean Sky Chan Monastery in the city serving the spiritual needs of Chinese Filipino community. Quiapo is home to a sizable Muslim population which worships at Masjid Al-Dahab. Members of the Indian expatriate population have the option of worshiping at the large Hindu temple in the city, or at the Sikh gurdwara along United Nations Avenue. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the Philippines, the governing body for followers of the Baháʼí Faith in the Philippines, is headquartered near Manila's eastern border with Makati.


Aerial view of the Port of Manila, the chief port of the Philippines.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Philippines

Manila is a major center for commerce, banking and finance, retailing, transportation, tourism, real estate, new media as well as traditional media, advertising, legal services, accounting, insurance, theater, fashion, and the arts in the Philippines. Around 60,000 establishments operate in the city.[163]

The National Competitiveness Council of the Philippines which annually publishes the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), ranks the cities, municipalities and provinces of the country according to their economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure. According to the 2016 CMCI, Manila was the second most competitive city in the Philippines.[164] Manila placed third in the Highly Urbanized City (HUC) category.[165] Manila held the title country's most competitive city in 2015, and since then has been making it to the top 3, assuring that the city is consistently one of the best place to live in and do business.[166] Lars Wittig, the country manager of Regus Philippines, hailed Manila as the third best city in the country to launch a start-up business.[167]

The Port of Manila is the largest seaport in the Philippines, making it the premier international shipping gateway to the country. The Philippine Ports Authority is the government agency responsible to oversee the operation and management of the ports. The International Container Terminal Services Inc. cited by the Asian Development Bank as one of the top five major maritime terminal operators in the world[168][169] has its headquarters and main operations on the ports of Manila. Another port operator, the Asian Terminal Incorporated, has its corporate office and main operations in the Manila South Harbor and its container depository located in Santa Mesa.

Binondo, the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns 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.[170]

Divisoria in Tondo is known as the "shopping mecca of the Philippines". Numerous shopping malls are located in this place, which sells products and goods at bargain price. Small vendors occupy several roads that causes pedestrian and vehicular traffic. A famous landmark in Divisoria 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 upon the completion of the LRT Line 2 West Extension, thereby making it Manila's busiest transfer station.[171]

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.

Landbank Plaza, the headquarters of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The Pandacan oil depot houses the storage facilities and distribution terminals of the three major players in the country's petroleum industry, namely Caltex Philippines, Pilipinas Shell and Petron Corporation. The oil depot has been a subject of various concerns, including its environmental and health impact to the residents of Manila. The Supreme Court has ordered that the oil depot to be relocated outside the city by July 2015,[172][173] but it failed to meet this deadline. Most of the oil depot facility inside the 33 hectare compound have been demolished, and plans are put into place to transform it into a transport hub or even a food park.

Manila is a major publishing center in the Philippines.[174] Manila Bulletin, the Philippines' largest broadsheet newspaper by circulation, is headquartered in Intramuros.[175] Other major publishing companies in the country like The Manila Times, The Philippine Star and Manila Standard Today are headquartered in the Port Area. The Chinese Commercial News, the Philippines' oldest existing Chinese-language newspaper, and the country's third-oldest existing newspaper[176] is headquartered in Binondo. DWRK used to have its studio at the FEMS Tower 1 along South Superhighway in Malate before transferring to the MBC Building at the CCP Complex in 2008.

Manila serves as the headquarters of the Central Bank of the Philippines which is located along Roxas Boulevard.[177] Some universal banks in the Philippines that has its headquarters in the city are the Landbank of the Philippines and Philippine Trust Company. Unilever Philippines used to have its corporate office along United Nations Avenue in Paco before transferring to Bonifacio Global City in 2016.[178] Toyota, a company listed in the Forbes Global 2000, also has its regional office along UN Avenue.


The historic Plaza Moriones in Fort Santiago, Intramuros.

Manila welcomes over 1 million tourists each year.[174] Major tourist destinations include the historic Walled City of Intramuros, the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex,[note 1] Manila Ocean Park, Binondo (Chinatown), Ermita, Malate, Manila Zoo, the National Museum Complex and Rizal Park.[179] Both the historic Walled City of Intramuros and Rizal Park were designated as flagship destinations and as a tourism enterprise zones in the Tourism Act of 2009.[180]

Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is the national park and the largest urban park in Asia[181] with an area of 58 hectares (140 acres),[182] The park was constructed as an honor and dedication to the country's national hero José Rizal, who was executed by the Spaniards on charges of subversion. The flagpole west of the Rizal Monument is the Kilometer Zero marker for distances to the rest of the country. The park was managed by the National Parks and Development Committee.

The 0.67 square kilometres (0.26 sq mi) Walled City of Intramuros is the historic center of Manila. It is administered by the Intramuros Administration, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism. It contains the famed Manila Cathedral and the 18th Century San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kalesa is a popular mode of transportation for tourists in Intramuros and nearby places including Binondo, Ermita and Rizal Park.[183] Known as the oldest chinatown in the world, Binondo was established on 1521 and it was already a hub of Chinese commerce even before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines. Its main attractions are Binondo Church, Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch, Seng Guan Buddhist temple and authentic Chinese restaurants.

Manila is designated as the country's pioneer of medical tourism, expecting it to generate $1 billion in revenue annually.[184] However, lack of progressive health system, inadequate infrastructure and the unstable political environment are seen as hindrances for its growth.[185]


Divisoria is a popular flea market for locals and tourists.

Manila is regarded as one of the best shopping destinations in Asia.[186][187] Major shopping malls, department stores, markets, supermarkets and bazaars thrive within the city.

One of the city's famous shopping destinations is Divisoria, home to numerous shopping malls in the city, including the famed Tutuban Center and the Lucky Chinatown. It is also dubbed as the shopping mecca of the Philippines where everything is sold at bargain price. There are almost 1 million shoppers in Divisoria according to the Manila Police District.[188] Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world,[52] 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. Quiapo is referred to as the "Old Downtown", where tiangges, markets, boutique shops, music and electronics stores are common. Many department stores are on Recto Avenue.

Robinsons Place Manila is the largest shopping mall in the city.[189] The mall was the second and the largest Robinsons Malls built. SM Supermalls operates two shopping malls in the city which are the SM City Manila and SM City San Lazaro. SM City Manila is located on the former grounds of YMCA Manila beside the Manila City Hall in Ermita, while SM City San Lazaro is built on the site of the former San Lazaro Hippodrome in Santa Cruz. The building of the former Manila Royal Hotel in Quiapo, which is famed for its revolving restaurant atop, is now the SM Clearance Center that was established in 1972.[190] The site of the first SM Store is located at Carlos Palanca Sr. (formerly Echague) Street in San Miguel.



The National Museum of Fine Arts.

As the cultural center of the Philippines, Manila is the home to a number of museums. The National Museum Complex of the National Museum of the Philippines, located in Rizal Park, is composed of the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium. The famous painting of Juan Luna, the Spoliarium, can be found in the complex. The city also hosts the repository of the country's printed and recorded cultural heritage and other literary and information resources, the National Library. Museums established or run by educational institutions are the Mabini Shrine, the DLS-CSB Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, UST Museum of Arts and Sciences, and the UP Museum of a History of Ideas.

The National Museum of Natural History at Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park.

Bahay Tsinoy, one of Manila's most prominent museums, documents the Chinese lives and contributions in the history of the Philippines. The Intramuros Light and Sound Museum chronicles the Filipinos desire for freedom during the revolution under Rizal's leadership and other revolutionary leaders. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is a museum of modern and contemporary visual arts exhibits the Filipino arts and culture.

Other museums in the city are the Museum of Manila, the city-owned museum that exhibits the city's culture and history, Museo Pambata, a children's museum and a place of hands-on discovery and fun learning, and Plaza San Luis which is an outdoor heritage public museum that contains a collection of nine Spanish Bahay na Bató houses. Ecclesiastical museums in the located in the city are the Parish of the Our Lady of the Abandoned in Santa Ana, the San Agustin Church Museum and the Museo de Intramuros which houses the ecclesiastical art collection of the Intramuros Administration in the reconstructed San Ignacio Church and Convent.


Aerial view of the city-owned Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, considered as the national sports complex of the Philippines.
Children playing basketball at the ruins of San Ignacio Church in Intramuros
The Intramuros Golf Club

Sports in Manila have a long and distinguished history. The city's, and in general the country's main sport is basketball, and most barangays have a basketball court or at least a makeshift basketball court, with court markings drawn on the streets. Larger barangays have covered courts where inter-barangay leagues are held every summer (April to May). Manila has many sports venues, such as the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and San Andres Gym, the home of the now defunct Manila Metrostars.[191] The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex houses the Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium, the Baseball Stadium, Tennis Courts, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium (the latter two are indoor arenas). The Rizal complex had hosted several multi-sport events, such as the 1954 Asian Games and the 1934 Far Eastern Games. Whenever the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games, most of the events are held at the complex, but in the 2005 Games, most events were held elsewhere. The 1960 ABC Championship and the 1973 ABC Championship, forerunners of the FIBA Asia Championship, was hosted by the memorial coliseum, with the national basketball team winning on both tournaments. The 1978 FIBA World Championship was held at the coliseum although the latter stages were held in the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Southeast Asia's largest indoor arena at that time.

Manila also hosts several well-known sports facilities such as the Enrique M. Razon Sports Center and the University of Santo Tomas Sports Complex, both of which are private venues owned by a university; collegiate sports are also held, with the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball games held at Rizal Memorial Coliseum and Ninoy Aquino Stadium, although basketball events had transferred to San Juan's Filoil Flying V Arena and the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Other collegiate sports are still held at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. Professional basketball also used to play at the city, but the Philippine Basketball Association now holds their games at Araneta Coliseum and Cuneta Astrodome at Pasay; the now defunct Philippine Basketball League played some of their games at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

The Manila Storm are the city's rugby league team training at Rizal Park (Luneta Park) and playing their matches at Southern Plains Field, Calamba, Laguna. Previously a widely played sport in the city, Manila is now the home of the only sizable baseball stadium in the country, at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium. The stadium hosts games of Baseball Philippines; Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth were the first players to score a home run at the stadium at their tour of the country on December 2, 1934.[192] Another popular sport in the city are cue sports, and billiard halls are a feature in most barangays. The 2010 World Cup of Pool was held at Robinsons Place Manila.[193]

The Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium hosted the first FIFA World Cup qualifier in decades when the Philippines hosted Sri Lanka in July 2011. The stadium, which was previously unfit for international matches, had undergone a major renovation program before the match.[194] The stadium also hosted its first rugby test when it hosted the 2012 Asian Five Nations Division I tournaments.[195]

Festivities and holidays[edit]

Catholic devotees during the Feast of the Black Nazarene (Traslacíon)

Manila celebrates civic and national holidays. Since most of the city's citizens are Roman Catholics as a result of the Spanish colonization,[196] most of the festivities are religious in nature. Manila Day, which celebrates the city's founding on June 24, 1571 by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi, was first proclaimed by Herminio A. Astorga (then Vice Mayor of Manila) on June 24, 1962. It has been annually commemorated under the patronage of John the Baptist, and has always been declared by the national government as a special non-working holiday through Presidential Proclamations. Each of the city's 896 barangays also have their own festivities guided by their own patron saint.

The city is also the host to the Procession of the Feast of the Black Nazarene (Traslacíon), held every January 9, which draws millions of Catholic devotees. Other religious festivities held in Manila are the Feast of Santo Niño in Tondo and Pandacan held on the third Sunday of January, the Feast of the Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados de Manila (Our Lady of the Abandoned), the patron saint of Santa Ana which was held every May 12, and the Flores de Mayo. Non-religious holidays include the New Year's Day, National Heroes' Day, Bonifacio Day and Rizal Day.


Manila City Hall, the seat of city government
Isko Moreno, the city mayor

Manila—officially known as the City of Manila—is the national capital of the Philippines and is classified as a Special City (according to its income)[197][198] and a Highly Urbanized City (HUC). The mayor is the chief executive, and is assisted by the vice mayor, and the 38-member City Council. The members of the City Council are elected as representatives of the six councilor districts within the city, and the municipal presidents of the Liga ng mga Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan.

The city, however, has no control over Intramuros and the Manila North Harbor. The historic Walled City is administered by the Intramuros Administration, while the Manila North Harbor is managed by the Philippine Ports Authority. Both are national government agencies. The barangays that have jurisdictions over these places only oversee the welfare of the city's constituents and cannot exercise their executive powers. Manila has a total of 12,971 personnel complement by the end of 2018.[199] Under the proposed form of federalism in the Philippines, Manila may no longer be the capital or Metro Manila may no longer be the seat of government. The committee has not yet decided on the federal capital and states that they are open to other proposals.[200][201]

The mayor is Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, who previously served as the city's vice mayor. The vice mayor is Dr. Maria Shielah "Honey" Lacuna-Pangan, daughter of former Manila Vice Mayor Danny Lacuna. The mayor and the vice mayor are term-limited by up to 3 terms, with each term lasting for 3 years. The city has an ordinance penalizing cat-calling since 2018, and is the second city in the Philippines to do so after Quezon City passed a similar ordinance in 2016.[202] Recently, the City Government is planning to revise existing curfew ordinance since the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in August 2017. Out of the three cities reviewed by the Supreme Court, namely: the City of Manila, Navotas and Quezon City; only the curfew ordinance of Quezon City was approved.[203][204]

Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros is home to the Philippine Commission on Elections and Intramuros Administration.

Manila, being the seat of political power of the Philippines, has several national government offices headquartered at the city. Planning for the development for being the center of government started during the early years of American colonization when they envisioned a well-designed city outside the walls of Intramuros. The strategic location chosen was Bagumbayan, a former town which is now the Rizal Park to become the center of government and a design commission was given to Daniel Burnham to create a master plan for the city patterned after Washington, D.C. These improvements were eventually abandoned under the Commonwealth Government of Manuel L. Quezon. A new government center was to be built on the hills northeast of Manila, or what is now Quezon City. Several government agencies have set up their headquarters in Quezon City but several key government offices still reside in Manila. However, many of the plans were substantially altered after the devastation of Manila during World War II and by subsequent administrations.

The city, as the capital, still hosts the Office of the President, as well as the president's official residence. Aside from these, important government agencies and institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Departments of Budget and Management, Finance, Health, Justice, Labor and Employment and Public Works and Highways still call the city home. Manila also hosts important national institutions such as the National Library, National Archives, National Museum and the Philippine General Hospital.

Congress previously held office at the Old Congress Building. In 1972, due to declaration of martial law, Congress was dissolved; its successor, the unicameral Batasang Pambansa, held office at the new Batasang Pambansa Complex. When a new constitution restored the bicameral Congress, the House of Representatives stayed at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, while the Senate remained at the Old Congress Building. In May 1997, the Senate transferred to a new building it shares with the Government Service Insurance System at reclaimed land at Pasay. The Supreme Court will also transfer to its new campus at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig in 2019.[205]

In Congress, Manila is represented by its six representatives, one each from its six congressional districts, while in the Senate, that body is elected nationally.


In the 2019 Annual Audit Report published by the Commission on Audit, the total revenue of the City of Manila amounted to ₱16.534 billion.[199] It is one of the cities with the highest tax collection and internal revenue allotment.[206] For the 2019 fiscal year, the total tax revenue collected by the city amounted to ₱8.4 billion. The city's total Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), coming from the National Treasury, is at ₱2.94 billion. Meanwhile, its total assets was worth ₱63.4 billion in 2019.[199] The City of Manila has the highest budget allocation to healthcare among all the cities and municipalities in the Philippines, which maintains the six district hospitals, 59 health centers and lying-in clinic, and healthcare programs.

Barangays and districts[edit]

Unofficial Barangay Map of Manila produced by the City Planning and Development Office
Manila is divided into six congressional districts as shown in the map.
District map of Manila that shows its sixteen districts.

Manila is made up of 897 barangays,[207] which are grouped into 100 Zones for statistical convenience. Manila has the most barangays in the Philippines.[208] Attempts at reducing its number have not prospered despite local legislation—Ordinance 7907, passed on April 23, 1996—reducing the number from 896 to 150 by merging existing barangays, because of the failure to hold a plebiscite.[209]

  • District I (2015 population: 415,906)[210] covers the western part of Tondo and is made up of 136 barangays. It is the most densely populated Congressional District and was also known as Tondo I. The district is the home to one of the biggest urban poor communities. The Smokey Mountain in Balut Island is once known as the largest landfill where thousands of impoverished people lives in the slums. After the closure of the landfill in 1995, mid-rise housing buildings were built in place. This district also contains the Manila North Harbour Centre, the Manila North Harbor, and the Manila International Container Terminal of the Port of Manila.
  • District II (2015 population: 215,457)[210] covers the eastern part of Tondo which contains 122 barangays. It is also referred to as Tondo II. It contains Gagalangin, a prominent place in Tondo, and Divisoria, a popular shopping place in the Philippines and the site of the Main Terminal Station of the Philippine National Railways.
  • District III (2015 population: 221,780)[210] covers Binondo, Quiapo, San Nicolas and Santa Cruz. It contains 123 barangays and encompasses the so-called "Downtown Manila" or the historic business district of the city and the oldest Chinatown in the world.
  • District IV (2015 population: 265,046)[210] covers Sampaloc and some parts of Santa Mesa. It contains 192 barangays and has numerous colleges and universities, which were located along the city's "University Belt", a de facto sub-district. The University of Santo Tomas is located here, the oldest existing university in Asia which was established in 1611.
  • District V (2015 population: 366,714)[210] covers Ermita, Malate, Port Area, Intramuros, San Andres Bukid, and a portion of Paco. It is made up of 184 barangays. The historic Walled City is located here, along with Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • District VI (2007 population: 295,245)[210] covers Pandacan, San Miguel, Santa Ana, Santa Mesa and a portion of Paco. It contains 139 barangays. Santa Ana district is known for its 18th Century Santa Ana Church and historic ancestral houses.



The Smokey Mountain Housing Project was built on a former landfill. Continuous development of housing buildings continues up to the present day.

Development of public housing in the city began in the 1930s when the United States rule over the Philippines. Americans have to deal with the problem of sanitation and concentration of settlers around business areas. Business codes and sanitation laws were implemented in the 1930s. During this period until the 1950s, new communities were opened for relocation. Among these were Projects 1–8 in Diliman, Quezon City and the Vitas tenement houses in Tondo. The government implemented the Public Housing Policy in 1947 that established the People's Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC). A few years later, it put up the Slum Clearance Committee which, with the help of the PHHC, relocated thousands of families from Tondo and Quezon City to Sapang Palay in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan in the 1960s.

In 2016, the national government completed several medium-rise houses for 300 Manila residents whose slum community was destroyed by a fire in 2011.[211] Meanwhile, the city government plans to retrofit dilapidated tenements within the city,[212] and will construct new housing buildings for the city's informal settlers such as the 14-storey Tondominium 1 and Tondomium 2 buildings, containing 42-square meter, two-bedroom units. The construction of these new in-city vertical housing projects was funded by a loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.[213][214] A multitude of other vertical housing projects are in development.


Jeepneys are one of the most popular modes of transportation in Manila
Pureza station of LRT Line 2 in Santa Mesa
Blumentritt Station of the LRT Line 1

One of the more famous modes of transportation in Manila is the jeepney. Patterned after U.S. Army jeeps, these have been in use since the years immediately following World War II.[215] The Tamaraw FX, the third generation Toyota Kijang, which competed directly with jeepneys and followed fixed routes for a set price, once plied the streets of Manila. They were replaced by the UV Express. All types of public road transport plying Manila are privately owned and operated under government franchise.

On a for-hire basis, the city is served by numerous taxicabs, "Motorized tricycle (Philippines)tricycles" (motorcycles with sidecars, the Philippine version of the auto rickshaw), and "trisikads" or "sikads", which are also known as "kuligligs" (bicycles with a sidecars, the Philippine version of pedicabs). In some areas, especially in Divisoria, motorized pedicabs are popular. Spanish-era horse-drawn calesas are still a popular tourist attraction and mode of transportation in the streets of Binondo and Intramuros. Manila will phase out all gasoline-run tricycles and pedicabs and replace them with electric tricycles (e-trikes), and plans to distribute 10,000 e-trikes to qualified tricycle drivers from the city.[216][217] As of January 2018, the city has already distributed e-trikes to a number of drivers and operators in Binondo, Ermita, Malate and Santa Cruz.[218]

The city is serviced by LRT Line 1 (LRT-1) and Line 2 (LRT-2), which form the Light Rail Transit. Development of the railway system began in the 1970s under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, when the LRT Line 1 was built, making it the first light rail transport in Southeast Asia, though despite the name "light rail", LRT-1 operates as a light metro running on dedicated right-of-way. LRT 2 on the other hand, operates as a full-metro heavy rail system. These systems are undergoing a multibillion-dollar expansion.[219] The LRT runs along the length of Taft Avenue (N170/R-2) and Rizal Avenue (N150/R-9), while LRT-2 runs along Claro M. Recto Avenue (N145/C-1) and Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard (N180/R-6) from Santa Cruz, through Quezon City, up to Masinag in Antipolo, Rizal.

The main terminal of the Philippine National Railways lies within the city. One commuter railway within Metro Manila is in operation. The line runs in a general north–south direction from Tutuban (Tondo) toward the province of Laguna. The Port of Manila, located at the western section of the city at the vicinity of Manila Bay, is the chief seaport of the Philippines. The Pasig River Ferry Service which runs on the Pasig River is another form of transportation. The city is also served by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport.

“Trolleys", hand-made human-powered metal handcarts operated by “trolley boys” transport people along sections of the PNR lines. This is a popular means of transport, due to it being cheap (roughly ₱10 or US$.20) and avoiding traffic. Many “trolley boys” are homeless, and live alongside the rail line as a result. Since the line is actively used by passenger trains, collisions with passenger trains are a consistent danger, although casualties are reportedly rare. Rides are unofficial and unregulated, but tolerated by authorities.[220][221][222][223]

In 2006, Forbes magazine ranked Manila the world's most congested city. According to Waze's 2015 "Global Driver Satisfaction Index", Manila is the town with the worst traffic worldwide.[224] Manila is notorious for its frequent traffic jams and high densities.[225] The government has undertaken several projects to alleviate the traffic in the city. Some of the projects include: the proposed construction of a new viaduct or underpass at the intersection of España Boulevard and Lacson Avenue,[226] the construction of Skyway Stage 3, NLEX Connector, Pasig River Expressway, the proposed LRT Line 2 West Extension Project from Recto Avenue to Pier 4 of the Manila North Harbor,[227] the proposed construction of the PNR east–west line, which will run through España Boulevard up to Quezon City, and the expansion and widening of several national and local roads. However, such projects have yet to make any meaningful impact, and the traffic jams and congestion continue unabated.[228]

The Metro Manila Dream Plan seeks to address these urban transport problems. It consists of a list of short term priority projects and medium to long term infrastructure projects that will last up to 2030.[229][230]

Water and electricity[edit]

Water services used to be provided by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, which served 30% of the city with most other sewage being directly dumped into storm drains, septic tanks, or open canals.[231] MWSS was privatized in 1997, which split the water concession into the east and west zones. The Maynilad Water Services took over the west zone of which Manila is a part. It now provides the supply and delivery of potable water and sewerage system in Manila,[232] but it does not provide service to the southeastern part of the city which belongs to the east zone that is served by Manila Water. Electric services are provided by Meralco, the sole electric power distributor in Metro Manila.


The Manila Health Department is responsible for the planning and implementation of the health care programs provided by the city government. It operates 59 health centers and six city-run hospitals, which are free of charge for the city's constituents. The six public city-run hospitals are the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center, Ospital ng Tondo, Santa Ana Hospital, and Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital.[233] Manila is also the site of the Philippine General Hospital, the tertiary state-owned hospital administered and operated by the University of the Philippines Manila. The city is also planning to put up an education, research and hospital facility for cleft-palate patients,[234][235] as well as establishing the first children's surgical hospital in Southeast Asia.[236]

Manila's healthcare is also provided by private corporations. Private hospitals that operates in the city are the Manila Doctors Hospital, Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, Dr. José R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Metropolitan Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, and the University of Santo Tomas Hospital.

The Department of Health (DOH) has its main office in Manila. The national health department operates the San Lazaro Hospital, a special referral tertiary hospital. DOH also operates the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center and the Tondo Medical Center. Manila is the home to the headquarters of the World Health Organization's Regional Office for the Western Pacific and Country Office for the Philippines.

The city has free immunization programs for children, specifically targeted against hepatitis B, Hemophilus influenza B pneumonia, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. As of 2016, a total of 31,115 children age one and below has been "fully immunized".[237] The Manila Dialysis Center that provides free services for the poor has been cited by the United Nations Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and Public-Private Partnerships as a model for public-private partnership (PPP) projects.[238][239] The dialysis facility was named as the Flora V. Valisno de Siojo Dialysis Center in 2019, and was inaugurated as the largest free dialysis facility in the Philippines. It has 91 dialysis machines, which can be expanded up to 100, matching the capabilities of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI).[240][241]


De La Salle University is a Lasallian educational institution established in 1911.
The campus of the University of the City of Manila and Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros.

The center of education since the colonial period, Manila – particularly Intramuros – is home to several Philippine universities and colleges as well as its oldest ones. It served as the home of the University of Santo Tomas (1611), Colegio de San Juan de Letran (1620), Ateneo de Manila University (1859), Far Eastern University, Lyceum of the Philippines University and the Mapua Institute of Technology. Only Colegio de San Juan de Letran remains at Intramuros; the University of Santo Tomas transferred to a new campus at Sampaloc in 1927, and Ateneo left Intramuros for Loyola Heights, Quezon City (while still retaining "de Manila" in its name) in 1952.

The University of the City of Manila (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila) located at Intramuros, and Universidad de Manila located just outside the walled city, are both owned and operated by the Manila city government.

The University of the Philippines (1908), the premier state university, was established in Ermita, Manila. It moved its central administrative offices from Manila to Diliman in 1949 and eventually made the original campus the University of the Philippines Manila – the oldest of the constituent universities of the University of the Philippines System and the center of health sciences education in the country.[242] The city is also the site of the main campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, the largest university in the country in terms of student population.[243]

The University Belt refers to the area where there is a high concentration or a cluster of colleges and universities in the city and it is commonly understood as the one where the San Miguel, Quiapo and Sampaloc districts meet. Generally, it includes the western end of España Boulevard, Nicanor Reyes St. (formerly Morayta St.), the eastern end of Claro M. Recto Avenue (formerly Azcarraga), Legarda Avenue, Mendiola Street, and the different side streets. Each of the colleges and universities found here are at a short walking distance of each other. Another cluster of colleges lies along the southern bank of the Pasig River, mostly at the Intramuros and Ermita districts, and still a smaller cluster is found at the southernmost part of Malate near the city limits such as the private co-educational institution of De La Salle University, the largest of all De La Salle University System of schools.

The Division of the City Schools of Manila, a branch of the Department of Education, refers to the city's three-tier public education system. It governs the 71 public elementary schools, 32 public high schools.[244] The city also contains the Manila Science High School, the pilot science high school of the Philippines.[19]

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]


  • Bacoor, Cavite[245]
  • Bangkok, Thailand[246]
  • Beijing, People's Republic of China[247][248]
  • Dili, East Timor[249][250]
  • Guangzhou, Guangdong, People's Republic of China[248]
  • Haifa, Israel[251]
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam[252]
  • Incheon, South Korea[253]
  • Jakarta, Indonesia[254]
  • Nantan, Kyoto, Japan[255]
  • Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan[256]
  • Osaka, Japan (business partner)[257]
  • Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands[258]
  • Shanghai, People's Republic of China[259]
  • Taipei, Taiwan[260]
  • Takatsuki, Osaka, Japan[261][262]
  • Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan[262][263]


  • Bucharest, Romania[256]
  • Lisbon, Portugal[264]
  • Warsaw, Poland
  • Madrid, Spain[265]
  • Màlaga, Spain[256]
  • Moscow, Russia[256]
  • Nice, France[266]


  • Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico[267]
  • Cartagena, Colombia[256]
  • Havana, Cuba[256]
  • Honolulu, Hawaii, United States[268]
  • Lima, Peru[256]
  • Maui County, Hawaii, United States
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Montevideo, Uruguay[269]
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada[270]
  • New York City, New York, United States (global partner)[271]
  • Panama City, Panama[272]
  • Sacramento, California, United States
  • San Francisco, California, United States
  • Santiago, Chile[256]
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada[273]

International relations[edit]


See also[edit]

  • Greater Manila Area
  • Hidalgo Street
  • Imperial Manila


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External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Philippine Standard Geographic Code
  • Geographic data related to Manila at OpenStreetMap