Manila is the capital city of the Philippines.

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Manila (English: /məˈnɪlə/; Tagalog: Maynila, [majˈnilaʔ]) is the capital city of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities (along with the municipality of Pateros) that comprise the national capital region of Metro Manila.

The city of Manila is located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay and is bordered by the cities of Navotas and Caloocan to the north; Quezon City to the northeast; San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east; Makati to the southeast, and Pasay to the south.

Manila has a total population of 1,652,171 according to the 2010 census.[2] Manila is the second most populous city in the Philippines, behind its neighbor, Quezon City. The populace inhabit an area of only 38.55 square kilometers, making Manila the most densely populated city in the world.[3]

The city is divided into six legislative districts and consists of sixteen geographical 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. Bustling commerce and some of the most historically and culturally significant iconic landmarks in the country, as well as the seat of the executive and judicial branches of the government are found in the city. Manila is also home to many scientific and educational institutions, numerous sport facilities, and other culturally and historically significant venues.

Listed as a global city, Manila has its strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport making it the historical, cultural, political and economic center of the Philippines.[4]

The earliest written account of the city is the 10th-century Laguna Copperplate Inscription which describes a context of an Indianised kingdom maintaining diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Medang. The city was invaded by Brunei's Sultan Bolkiah and was already Islamized by the 15th century when the Spanish explorers first arrived. Manila eventually became the center of Spanish activity in the Far East and one end of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade route linking Latin America and Asia. The city would eventually be given the moniker of the "Pearl of the Orient," as a result of its central location in the vital Pacific sea trade routes. Several Chinese insurrections, local revolts, a British Occupation and a Sepoy mutiny also occurred shortly thereafter. Manila also saw the rise of the Philippine Revolution which was followed by the arrival of the Americans who made contributions to the city's urban planning and development only to have most of those improvements lost in the devastation of World War II. Since then the city has been rebuilt.


Escolta Street in stereoptical view, 1899.

Manila was first known as Gintô (gold) or Suvarnadvipa by neighboring settlements, and was officially the Kingdom of Maynila. The Kingdom flourished during the latter half of the Ming Dynasty as a result of direct trade relations with China. Ancient Tondo was maintained as the traditional capital of the empire, with its rulers as sovereign kings and not mere chieftains, and were addressed variously as panginuan or panginoon ("lords"); anak banwa ("son of heaven"); or lakandula ("lord of the palace"). In the 13th century, the city consisted of a fortified settlement and trading quarter at the shores of the Pasig River, on top of previous older towns. There is also early evidence of Manila being invaded by the Indianized empire of Majapahit, referenced in the epic eulogy poem Nagarakretagama which inscribed its conquest by Maharaja Hayam Wuruk.[5] Saludong or Selurong which is a historical name for the city of Manila is listed in Canto 14 alongside Sulot, which is now Sulu, and Kalka.[5]

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah in 1485 to 1521, the Sultanate of Brunei attempted to break Tondo's monopoly in the China trade by attacking it and establishing the state of Selurong (now Manila) as a Bruneian satellite state.[6] A new dynasty under the Islamized Rajah Salalila was also established to challenge the House of Lakandula in Tondo. Islam was further strengthened by the arrival of traders and proselytizers from Malaysia and Indonesia.[7] The multiple states that existed in the Philippines simplified Spanish colonization. Manila was temporarily threatened by the invasion of Chinese pirate-warlord Limahong before it became the seat of the colonial government of Spain.

In 1571 Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi founded the Manila in what today is the district of Intramuros. Manila was made the capital of the Philippine Islands, which Spain would control for the next three centuries, from 1565 to 1898. The city was occupied by Great Britain for two years from 1762 to 1764 as part of the European Seven Years' War between Spain and France and Great Britain.[8] The city remained the capital of the Philippines under the government of the provisional British governor, Dawsonne Drake, acting through the Mexican-born Archbishop of Manila, Manuel Rojo del Rio y Vieyra and the captive Audiencia Real.[9] However, armed resistance to the British persisted, centered in Pampanga, and was led by Oidor Don Simón de Anda y Salazar.[9]

The Burnham Plan of Manila. North is at the left.

Manila also became famous during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade which lasted for three centuries and brought goods from Mexico and Peru to Southeast Asia. Silver that was mined in Mexico and Peru were exchanged for Chinese silk, Indian gems, and the spices of the Spanish East Indies.

In 1898, after their defeat in the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States, as well as several other territorial possessions, as part of the terms under the Treaty of Paris and a monetary exchange of $20 million. Immediately after liberation from Spain, between 1899 and 1902, Filipino revolutionaries would be involved in armed conflict with the American military in the Philippine–American War and would result in the deaths of as much as 1.5 million Filipino civilians and the dissolution of the First Philippine Republic.

Under American control, the new insular government headed by Governor-General William Howard Taft invited Daniel Burnham to plan a modern Manila.[10] The Burnham Plan was a project that attempted to create Manila as Paris on the Prairie, with a vision of a government center occupying all of Wallace Field, which extends from Luneta to the present Taft Avenue. The Philippine Capitol was to rise on the Taft Avenue end of the field, facing toward the sea, and would form, with the buildings of different government bureaus and departments, a quadrangle, lagoon in the center, and a monument to Jose Rizal at its Luneta end. Of Burnham’s proposed government center, only three units were built: the Legislative Building and the building of the Finance and Agricultural departments, which were completed on the eve of World War II. By then, President Manuel L. Quezon had doomed the Burnham Plan by creating a new capital in a city just outside Manila proper, which was named after him, Quezon City.

Manila was the site of the bloodiest battle in the Pacific theater during the Second World War. After falling to the Empire of Japan on January 2, 1942, it was recaptured by joint American and Filipino troops in February to March 1945. Some 100,000 civilians were killed in Manila during the battles between November 1944 and February 1945.[11] It was the second most devastated city in the world after Warsaw during the Second World War. Since then the city has been rebuilt.

The destruction brought about by the Battle of Manila

With Arsenio Lacson becoming the first elected mayor in 1952 (all mayors were appointed prior to this), the city of Manila underwent The Golden Age,[12] was revitalized, and once again became the "Pearl of the Orient", a moniker it earned before the outbreak of the Second World War. After Mayor Lacson's term in the 1950s, the city was led by Antonio Villegas during most of the 1960s, and Ramon Bagatsing for nearly the entire decade of the 1970s until the 1986 People Power Revolution, making him the longest serving Mayor of Manila. Mayors Lacson, Villegas, and Bagatsing are oftentimes collectively considered as the "Big Three of Manila" for their rather long tenures as the city's chief executive (continuously for over three decades, from 1952–1986), but more importantly, for their indelible contribution to the development and progress of the city and their lasting legacy in uplifting the quality of life and welfare of the people of the city of Manila.

During the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, the region of the Manila Metropolitan area was enacted as an independent entity in 1975 encompassing several cities and towns, being a separate local-regional unit and the seat of government of the Philippines.

In 1992, Alfredo Lim became the mayor, and was known for his anti-crime crusades. When Lim ran for the presidency during the 1998 presidential election, his vice mayor Lito Atienza was elected as city mayor. Atienza was known for his infrastructure projects. He was the mayor of Manila for 3 terms (9 years) before being termed out of office. Alfredo Lim once again ran for mayor and defeated Atienza's son Ali in the 2007 city election and reversed all of Atienza's projects[13] claiming the projects made little contribution to the improvements of the city. On July 17, 2008, councilor Dennis Alcoreza filed human rights complaints before the Commission on Human Rights, against Lim, and other Manila officials.[14] Twenty-four Manila officials also resigned because of the maltreatment of Lim's police forces.

While the eastern part of Metro Manila faced a catastrophe during the flooding of Tropical Storm Ketsana (local name: Ondoy) in 2009, the only major inconvenience in the city was the flooded Quezon Boulevard underpass which took two days to clean up and the flooded districts of Sampaloc, Santa Ana and Santa Mesa.

During the 2010 city elections, Alfredo Lim won against secretary Lito Atienza. After a few months of taking office, Lim was harshly criticized on the bloody resolution of the Manila hostage crisis, one of the deadliest hostage crisis in the Philippines. Lim was also accused of graft and corruption.[15] In 2012, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and 28 city councilors filed a complaint against Lim, alleging that the his statements in a recent meeting with barangay officials were "life-threatening", although Mayor Lim countered this statement.[16][17] Also, the city was reportedly bankrupt according to the Commission on Audit (COA), citing: the city's cash position of ₱1.006 billion is insufficient to pay its deficit of ₱3.553 billion; unclaimed remittances from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth); and the bloating expenses for the operation of the city and its services.[18][19] City officials countered this statement, claiming that the city is not bankrupt.[20]

The skyline of the City of Manila as viewed from Harbour Square in the CCP Complex.


Landsat satellite false-color photo of Manila Bay and the Metropolis of Manila

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 kilometres) from mainland Asia.[21] The Pasig River bisects the city. Almost all of the city 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. The city occupies an area of 38.55 square kilometers and was divided into 897 barangays, the smallest unit of local government in the Philippines. Each barangay has its own chairperson and councilors. For administrative convenience, all the barangays in Manila are grouped into 100 zones and which are further grouped into 16 geographical districts. These zones and districts have no form of local government. These 16 geographical districts are further grouped into the six legislative districts of Manila.


Under the Köppen climate classification system, Manila features a tropical savanna climate that borders on a tropical monsoon climate. Together 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 lower than 20 °C and going higher than 38 °C. However, humidity levels are usually very high which makes it feel much warmer. It has a distinct, albeit relatively short dry season from January through April, and a relatively lengthy wet season from May through December.

Climate data for Manila, Philippines
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 25.6
Average low °C (°F) 20.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 6.3
Avg. rainy days 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 7.0 14.0 16.0 19.0 17.0 13.0 9.0 5.0 104
Mean monthly sunshine hours 186.0 197.8 217.0 270.0 217.0 150.0 124.0 124.0 120.0 155.0 150.0 155.0 2,065.8
Source #1: Hong Kong Observatory [22]
Source #2: BBC Weather (sunshine data).[23]

Environmental issues

Largely due to industrial waste and heavy reliance on automobiles, Manila suffers from air pollution[24][25] in the form of smog[26] which affects 98% of the residents of the city[27] and results in more than 4,000 deaths per year.[28] Open dump sites and industrial waste contribute to increasing pollution within the city.[29] Several rivers in Manila have been considered biologically dead. The Pasig River, where 150 tons of domestic waste and 75 tons of industrial waste were dumped daily according to a report in 2003, is now one of the most polluted rivers in the world.[30]

Lack of adequate infrastructure is one of the causes of pollution in the city.[31] The district of Ermita is the most air polluted district in the city.[29]

Rehabilitation projects are now seen in several rivers and streams in Manila. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is in charge of cleaning up rivers and streams around Manila.[32] Because of rehabilitation projects, several rivers in Manila are now slightly cleaned-up and planted with trees and plants along its riverbanks.[33]


The skyline of Manila at night as viewed from Harbour Square

Population Census
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1903 219,928
1960 1,138,611 2.88%
1970 1,330,788 1.56%
1975 1,479,116 2.11%
1980 1,630,485 1.95%
1990 1,601,234 -0.18%
1995 1,654,761 0.66%
2000 1,581,082 -0.91%
2007 1,660,714 0.7%
2010 1,652,171 -0.17%

As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 1,652,171 making it the second most populous city in the Philippines.[2]

It is the most densely populated city in the world with 43,079 inhabitants per km2.[3] District 6 is listed as being the most dense with 68,266 inhabitants per km2, followed by the first two districts with 64,936 and 64,710, respectively, and district 5 being the least dense with 19,235.[34]

Manila's population density dwarfs that of Kolkata (27,774 inhabitants per km2), Mumbai (22,937 inhabitants per km2), Paris (20,164 inhabitants per km2), Dhaka (19,447 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).[35]

The vernacular language is Filipino, based mostly on the Tagalog of surrounding areas, and this Manila form of speaking Tagalog has essentially become the lingua franca of the Philippines, having spread throughout the archipelago through mass media and entertainment. Meanwhile, English is the language most widely used in education, business, and heavily in everyday usage throughout the Metro Manila region and the Philippines itself. A number of older residents can still speak basic Spanish, which was a mandatory subject in the curriculum of Philippine universities and colleges, and many children of European, Arab, Indian, Latin American, or other migrants or expatriates also speak their parents' languages at home, aside from English and/or Filipino for everyday use. Minnan Chinese (known as Lannang-oe) is spoken by the city's Chinese-Filipino community.


A view of Roxas Boulevard, where the business hub of Manila is located.

Manila's economy is diverse and multifaceted. With its excellent protected harbor, Manila serves as the Chief Seaport of the Country. Diverse manufacturers 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. Manila is a major publishing center in the Philippines.[36]

One of the largest projects within the city is the ₱5 billion development by Ayala Land Inc., the Celadon Residences.[37] Binondo has begun to be revitalized along with Divisoria, and several high-rise condominiums and offices are rising. Recently, a 20-hectare development was planned by the city government within the Port Area.[37][38] A blueprint was created for the development of the area while the city government waits for President Aquino to authorize the use of the idle land.[38] An area within the North Harbor was invested in by the San Miguel Corporation, which plan to build a ₱20 billion development known as San Miguel City. This would be a new business area located within the Metropolis which then serve the shipping requirements of the different divisions of the San Miguel Corporation.[39] Anchor Land Holdings, a real estate developer, is spearheading the construction of condominiums and commercial spaces in Manila with most of their projects located within the city.[39]

The Port of Manila, the chief port of the country.

Tourism in Manila attracts over 1 million tourists each year.[36] Major destinations include the Intramuros, museums such as the National Museum of the Philippines, and other tourist destinations including Ermita, Malate, Santa Cruz, the Manila Zoo, the City Chinatown and events such as the Feast of Black Nazarene, and free performances in Rizal Park and events within the Cultural Center of the Philippines.[note 1] Rizal Park is a major tourist attraction and one of the most recognizable icons of the Philippines. Ermita and Malate, aside from being known for its nightlife, are well-known shopping destination for the upper class while Divisoria was the shopping destination for local residents.

In terms of cash position, the city has ₱1.6 billion while its gross operating expenses was ₱2.97 billion.[40] The financial expenses of the city was P45 million,[40] and has a liability of 3.3 billion.[40] Manila has the highest budget allocation to health and was one of the cities with the highest tax revenue.[41] Manila was also one of the cities with the highest internal revenue.[41]

Arts and culture

The interior of Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, the only all-steel church in Asia.[42]

Residents in the city are mainly Christians, though the city welcomes all people of other faiths. Roman Catholics predominate, comprising 93.5% of the population, followed by Philippine Independent Church 2.4%, followed by Iglesia ni Cristo, comprising 1.9% of the population followed by Protestants (1.8%) and Buddhist (1.1%). Other religions comprises the remaining 1.4% of the city's population.[43] Manila is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, the oldest archdiocese in the country, and the Primate of the Philippines, whose offices were located at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.[44] Manila is home to three other basilicas, besides the Manila Cathedral, namely, the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian. Being the seat of the Spanish colonial government in past centuries, it has been used as the base of numerous Roman Catholic missions to the Philippines.

Quiapo Church and its vicinity are one of the most visited place.

Other notable churches in the city include San Agustin Church in Intramuros, the shrine of the canonically crowned image of Nuestra Señora de Consolación y Correa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site,[44] and a favorite wedding place of notable people and one of two fully air-conditioned churches in the city; the Binondo Church, also known as Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz; Malate Church, the shrine of Nuestra Señora de Remedios; Ermita Church, home of the oldest Marian Image in the Philippines, Nuestra Señora de Guia; Tondo Church, home of the century-old ivory image of Sto. Niño (Child Jesus); and Sta. Ana Church, shrine of the canonically crowned image of Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados.

Aside from the Evangelical Christians, Manila is also the home of most of the country's Mainline Protestants. The Pro-Cathedral of the Saint Stephen, the center of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines is also found in the city. The mainly Filipino revolutionary church Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan Church) is headquartered in the city. Also, the main campus of the Cathedral of Praise is located within the city.

The city also hosts other faiths. There are many Buddhist and Taoist temples built by the Chinese community in Manila. The Quiapo is home to a sizable Muslim population in Manila, where Masjid Al-Dahab is located. There is also a large Hindu temple for the Indian population, and a Sikh Temple was also erected.

Nightlife in Manila centres around Ermita and Malate, along with Intramuros. Areas in Binondo, the city's Chinatown, also attract many people, while other notable areas in the city such as Quiapo and Divisoria are known for being one of the shopping center of bargain goods. Ermita and Malate, being a popular tourist destination, showcase a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, clubs, bars, cafes, art and antique shops. The nightlife offers everything from cultural exhibitions to discothèques, casinos, entertainment lounges, and fashionable cafes.

Annual cultural events

Manila celebrates civic and national holidays. Manila Day, which celebrates the city's founding, was first proclaimed by Herminio A. Astorga (then Vice Mayor of Manila) on 24 June 1962 and has been annually commemorated, under the patronage of John the Baptist. Each of the city's districts also have their own fiesta (festivals). The city is also the host to the Feast of the Black Nazarene, held every 9th of January, which draws millions of Catholic devotees.


The National Museum of the Philippines

As the cultural center of the Philippines, Manila houses a number of notable museums. 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 exhibits the Filipino arts and culture. The Museum of Manila is the city-owned museum that exhibits the city's culture and history.

Manila is also home to other notable museums of the country, namely the Museo Pambata, a children's museum, the Museum of Philippine Political History, which exhibits notable political events in the country, the National Museum of the Philippines (which includes the Museum of the Filipino People) of which exhibits life, culture and history of the country, the Parish of the Our Lady of the Abandoned and the San Agustin Church Museum, which houses religious artifacts, Plaza San Luis, a public museum, the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences and the DLS-CSB Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (MCAD), both of which are university museums dedicated to science and technology, and contemporary art respectively.

Other points of interest

Numerous notable landmarks are located in Manila, such as Rizal Park, and the historical Intramuros. Rizal park is a crescent-shaped 58 hectares (140 acres)[45] park that lies within the heart of Manila's cultural and business district, as an honor and dedication to the country's national hero José Rizal, who was executed in the same place where the park was created by the Spaniards on charges of subversion. Among the attractions in Rizal Park is the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the National Museum of the Philippines, The National Library of the Philippines, the Planetarium, the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, the park auditorium, a landscaped relief map of the Philippines, the fountain, the children's lagoon, the chess plaza, the Quirino Grandstand and the Manila Ocean Park, which features a wide variety of marine animals. The flagpole west of the Rizal Monument is the Kilometer Zero marker for distances to the rest of the country. In the northern most part of the city lie three cemeteries: the Loyola and Chinese cemeteries, and Manila North Green Park, the largest public cemetery in the Manila metropolitan area.

Shopping centers

Robinsons Place Manila, a major shopping mall in the city.

Manila has become a well-known shopping hub of the country and it has been named as one of the best shopping destinations in Asia.[46][47] Major shopping malls are located around the city while local and traditional shopping centers such as markets and bazaars are also located around Manila.

Robinsons Place Manila is the largest shopping mall in the city,[48] and it is located at the heart of Manila. The mall was the second and by-far, the largest Robinson Mall ever built by John Gokongwei, the mall features a wide range of local and international retail shops, dining outlets, entertainment facilities and service centers, it also features anchor stores like Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Department Store and Robinsons Cinema.

Another shopping mall is the SM City Manila is the first SM Supermall in the city, it features major SM brands like the SM Department Store, SM Supermarket, SM Cinemas and SM Foodcourt and it is located right beside the Manila City Hall; the mall underwent major redevelopment in 2008. SM City San Lazaro, is the second SM Supermall in Manila; it is located in the district of Santa Cruz, the mall sits on what was the site of the former San Lazaro Hippodrome, a racetrack for horses.

Traditional shopping centers such as Divisoria, Binondo, and Quiapo, is a place for local and adventurous shoppers, it offers bargains and cheap buys, it also offers indigenous Filipino cuisine, crafts and delicacies. Quiapo is referred as the "Old Downtown", it has also made a name for itself as a place where cheap buys or goods are being sold at rock-bottom prices. Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world,[49] it is the district center of commerce and trade for all types of businesses run by Filipino-Chinese merchants; it offers Chinese restaurants, Filipino restaurants, and Chinese stores. Several plazas in Manila has Tiangge stores in it, to accommodate visitors.


Children playing basketball at Intramuros

Sports in Manila have a long and distinguished history. The city's, and the country's in general, main sport is basketball, and most barangays have a makeshift basketball court, with court markings drawn on the streets. Larger barangays have covered courts; this is where interbarangay leagues are held every summer (April–May).

The city has several well-known sports venues, such as the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and San Andres Gym, the home of the now defunct Manila Metrostars.[50] The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex houses the Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium, the Baseball Stadium, Tennis Courts, 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 on 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 complex, with the national basketball team winning on both tournaments. The 1978 FIBA World Championship was held at the complex although the latter stages were held in the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Southeast Asia's largest indoor arena.

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.

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.[51]

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.[52]

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 prior to the match.[53] The Football Stadium now regularly hosts matches of the United Football League. The stadium also hosted its first rugby test when it hosted the 2012 Asian Five Nations Division I tournaments.[54]

Parks and recreation

The Rizal Monument at the Luneta Park.

Manila is the site of the country's premiere park, Rizal Park, which was erected for the country's national hero, José Rizal. Besides having parks and green areas, Manila is the home to several plazas, such as the Plaza Balagtas and Plaza Miranda, the site of the 1971 politics-related bombings. Within Manila lies notable parks and green areas, such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Rajah Sulayman Park, Manila Boardwalk, Liwasang Bonifacio, Mehan Garden, Paco Park, Remedios Circle, the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, Pandacan Linear Park, and the Malacañang Garden.

Within the city lies the cemeteries of the Manila Chinese Cemetery, La Loma Cemetery,[note 2] the Manila South Green Park and the Manila North Green Park, notable as being the resting place of several historical figures and being the largest cemetery in the Metropolis. Both the Manila North and South Green Park are city-owned cemeteries.

A large number recreational areas are found scattered within the city, both public and private. Also, several playgrounds, sports facilities and gardens were erected within the city, most of which are now being developed in a commercial area.

Numerous shrine plazas are found within the city, wherein numerous historic monuments are found. Plazas also has numerous tiangge stores accommodating visitors. Plazas, unlike parks, contains lesser greens and mostly consisted of bricked pathways. Plazas in the city are usually located in commercial and industrial places while shrines have more greens than plazas and has no tiangge within it.


Local government

The Manila City Hall

The current mayor for the 2010–2013 term is Alfredo Lim, who defeated former mayor Lito Atienza in the 2010 election. The city mayor is restricted to three consecutive terms, totaling nine years, although a mayor can be elected again after an interruption of one term. Isko Moreno is the city's incumbent vice-mayor. The vice-mayor heads the legislative arm composed of the elected city councilors, six from each of the city's six legislative districts. Two more members of the Manila City Council are the Association of Barangay Captains president and the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK; Youth Council) president. The mayor and the council's seat is at the Manila City Hall. The judicial branch is managed by the Supreme Court of the Philippines under the Metro Manila judicial region.

The City Seal depicts the words Lungsod ng Maynila and Pilipinas, Filipino for City of Manila and Philippines, in a circle around a shield. The circle also contains six yellow stars representing the city's six congressional districts. The city seal composes of the shield, in the shape of pre-colonial people's shield, depicts the city's nickname Pearl of the Orient on top, a sea lion in the middle, in reference to the city's Spanish influences, and the waves of the Pasig river and Manila bay in the bottom. The colors of the seal mirror that of the flag of the Philippines. The sea lion in the seal of Manila was adopted by Singapore into its merlion.

Administrative districts

Map of Manila with landmarks highlighted.Map of Manila and its districts.

The city of Manila is divided into sixteen officially-defined administrative districts. These 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.

District Barangays Population
(2010 census)
Pop. density
(per km2)
Binondo 10 12,985 66.11 19,641.5
Ermita 13 7,143 158.91 4,495.0
Intramuros 5 4,925 67.26 7,322.3
Malate 57 77,513 259.58 29,860.9
Paco 43 70,978 278.69 25,468.4
Pandacan 38 73,895 166.00 44,515.1
Port Area 5 57,405 315.28 18,207.6
Quiapo 16 24,886 84.69 29,384.8
Sampaloc 192 241,528 513.71 47,016.4
San Andres Bukid 65 115,942 168.02 69,004.9
San Miguel 12 15,992 91.37 17,502.5
San Nicolas 15 44,241 163.85 27,000.9
Santa Ana 34 60,952 169.42 35,976.9
Santa Cruz 82 115,747 309.01 37,457.4
Santa Mesa 51 99,933 261.01 38,287.0
Tondo 259 628,106 865.13 72,602.5

Data presented by the National Statistics Office still do not reflect the 16-district configuration recognized by the city government of Manila. It recognizes neither the western area of Santa Ana that now belongs to the fifth congressional district of Manila as the geographical district of San Andres Bukid, nor the area of Sampaloc south of the Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard which now belongs to the sixth congressional district as the geographical district of Santa Mesa.

Legislative districts

Manila's legislative districts

Aside from the division of the sixteen geographical districts, the city is also divided into the six legislative districts that serve as the constituencies for the election of the city's representatives to the lower house of the Congress of the Philippines and of the regular members to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP; City Council). Each district elects one representative to the House of Representatives and six SP members to the council. The city, along with the rest of the nation, elects 12 senators as one at-large district.

  • The 1st District (2007 population: 407,331) is Manila's (and the country's) most densely populated congressional district. It covers the western portion of Tondo that lies along Manila Bay. Within this district, the northern Port Area is located.
  • The 2nd District (2007 population: 223,273) comprises the eastern inland portion of Tondo, a neighborhood known as Gagalangin.
  • The 3rd District (2007 population: 197,242) covers the districts of Binondo, Quiapo, San Nicolas and Santa Cruz. These areas of were once the commercial and financial centres of the metropolis. The congressional district is home to the city's Chinatown, and to several notable landmarks, including the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, the Binondo Church, Avenida Rizal, and the city's three largest burial grounds: the La Loma Cemetery, the Manila Chinese Cemetery and the Manila North Green Park. Some areas of this district is a part of the University Belt.
  • The 4th District (2007 population: 255,613) comprises solely the geographical district of Sampaloc, a mainly residential area. The University of Santo Tomas, along with several well-known universities is located in this district.
  • The 5th District (2007 population: 315,961) consists of the geographical districts of Ermita, Malate, Port Area, Intramuros, San Andres Bukid, and a portion of Paco (zone 90). The congressional district contains some of the most historically and culturally significant landmarks and institutions in the country, such as the old walled city of Manila, Rizal Park, the Manila Zoo, the National Museum and a portion of the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. The Supreme Court of the Philippines, the Court of Appeals and the World Health Organization are all in Ermita. The districts of Malate and Ermita are known for entertainment and nightlife. The three century-old college, Colegio de San Juan de Letran is located in this district.
  • The 6th District (2007 population: 261,294) covers the geographical districts of Paco (except zone 90), Pandacan, San Miguel, Santa Ana and Santa Mesa. This congressional district is host to the Malacañan Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines and the main campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

National government

The façade of Malacañan Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines.

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 to the country 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 resides in Manila. However, many of the plans were substantially altered after the devastation of Manila during World War II and the subsequent administrations.

Facade of the Supreme Court of the Philippines

The city, as the capital, still hosts the Office of the President, as well as the president's official residence. Aside from these, important institutions such as the Supreme Court (Kataas-taasang hukuman), the Court of Appeals, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Departments of Budget and Management (Kagawaran ng Pagbabadyet at Pamamahala), Finance, Health, Justice, Labor and Employment, and Tourism 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 currently shares with the Government Service Insurance System at reclaimed land at Pasay.


The campus of the University of the City of Manila is the flagship university of Manila's local government.

The National Library of the Philippines is located within Rizal Park.

The center of education since the colonial period, Manila, particularly Intramuros, is the home of several of the oldest schools. It currently contains the majority of the Philippines' universities and colleges. It served as the home of the University of Santo Tomas (1611), Colegio de San Juan de Letran (1620), and Ateneo de Manila University (1859). Only Colegio de San Juan de Letran (1620) is left 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 located at Intramuros, and Universidad De Manila located just outside the walled city, are both owned and operated by the Manila city government. The national government controls the University of the Philippines Manila, the oldest of the University of the Philippines constituent universities.[citation needed] The city is also the site of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, the largest university in the country in terms of student population.[55]

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 border with Pasay. The high concentration of higher learning institutions makes Manila the country's educational capital.

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[56] and the two city-owned universities.

The city also contains the Manila Science High School, the pilot science high school of the Philippines; the National Museum, where the Spoliarium of Juan Luna is housed; the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, the premier museum of modern and contemporary visual arts; the Museo Pambata, the Children's Museum, a place of hands-on discovery and fun learning; and, the National Library, the repository of the country's printed and recorded cultural heritage and other literary and information resources.



A taxicab in Manila.

The of the more famous modes of transportation in Manila is the jeepney, a converted surplus army jeep, which has been in use since the years immediately following World War II.[57] In more recent years, the Tamaraw FX, the third generation Toyota Kijang, has begun to compete directly with jeepneys. Along with buses, jeepneys and Tamaraws follow fixed routes for a set price.

On a for-hire basis, the city is served by numerous taxicabs, "tricycles" (motorcycles with sidecars, the Philippine version of the auto rickshaw), and "trisikads" or "sikads" (bicycles with a sidecars, the Philippine version of pedicabs). In some areas, especially in the Divisoria district, motorized pedicabs are popular. Spanish-era horse-drawn calesas are still a popular tourist attraction in the streets of Binondo and Intramuros. All types of public transport are privately owned and operated under government franchise.

Manila LRT Purple Line's V. Mapa Station of the Manila Light Rail Transit System, the first station in the city for trains coming from Santolan.

The city is serviced by the Manila Light Rail Transit System, popularly known as LRT, as distinct from the Manila Metro Rail Transit System, or MRT, in other parts of Metro Manila. Development of the railway system began in the 1970s under the Marcos administration, making it the first light rail transport in Southeast Asia. In recent years, the system has undergone a multi-billion dollar expansion.[58] Two lines provide service to the city: the LRT 1 line (Yellow Line) that runs along the length of Taft Avenue (R-2) and Rizal Avenue (R-9), and the LRT 2 line (Purple Line) that runs along Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard (R-6) from Santa Cruz, through Quezon City, up to Santolan in Pasig.

The main terminal of the Philippine National Railways lies within the city. Railways extend north to the city of San Fernando in Pampanga and south to Legazpi City in Albay, though only the southern railway is currently in operation.

The Port of Manila, located in the vicinity of Manila Bay, is the chief seaport of the Philippines. The city is also served by the Pasig River Ferry Service which runs on the Pasig River.

The city is also served by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport.

In 2006, Forbes Magazine ranked Manila “the world’s most congested city”. Manila has become notorious for its frequent traffic jams and high densities.[59] Government units have taken efforts to alleviate traffic jams, including a construction of a new flyover at Sampaloc.[60]

Medical facilities

The Philippine General Hospital.

Manila is headquarters to the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific, the World Health Organization Country Office for the Philippines, main office of the Department of Health, and several private and public hospitals and medical centers.

One of the many programs of the Department of Tourism is the promotion of Medical Tourism in the Philippines. Manila hosts a large number of wellness centers and spa facilities.

The Manila Health Department, which is responsible for the planning and implementation of the health programs of the city government, operates 44 health centers and lying-in facilities scattered throughout the city.[61] Hospitals in the city are the Manila Doctors' Hospital, Philippine General Hospital, Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, Dr. José R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, the University of Santo Tomas Hospital and the city-owned Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center.[44]

Sister cities

Manila has a number of sister cities worldwide, as classified by the city government. Each sister city is divided into three parts, namely the International, Friendly location and Local City.[62] Manila has 33 International Sister Cities, three Friendly Location Cities and two Local Sister Cities.

  • Acapulco, Mexico
  • Astana, Kazakhstan
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Beijing, China [62][63][64]
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Cartagena, Colombia
  • Guangzhou, China [62][65]
  • Haifa, Israel
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Honolulu, United States
  • Incheon, South Korea
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Jersey City, United States
  • Lima, Peru
  • Lyon, France
  • Madrid, Spain [62][66]
  • Malaga, Spain [62]
  • Maui County, Hawaii, United States
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Montreal, Canada [62][67]
  • Moscow, Russia
  • New Delhi, India
  • Nice, France
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Sacramento, United States
  • San Francisco, United States
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Seberang Perai, Malaysia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Taichung, Taiwan
  • Taipei, Taiwan [62][68]
  • Takatsuki, Japan [62]
  • Tehran, Iran
  • Winnipeg, Canada [62][69]
  • Yokohama, Japan [62][70]
Friendly Location
  • Busan, South Korea[62]
  • Shanghai, China (1983)[62]
  • Xi'an, China[62]
Local city
  • Cebu City, Philippines[62]
  • Davao City, Philippines[62]


  1. The Cultural Center of the Philippines lies between Manila and Pasay. The boundary between the cities was Vicente Sotto Street, which only a portion went to Manila. Landmarks in CCP that lies within Manila includes the main CCP Theater and the Coconut Palace.
  2. Within the boundary between Manila and Caloocan. La Loma Cemetery lies within Caloocan, although some area of the park lies within Manila. The City Government of Manila confirmed that La Loma Cemetery lies at Caloocan.


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