Metro Manila

Manila Skyline by Mike Gonzalez

Manila Skyline by Mike Gonzalez


Metropolitan Manila, the National Capital Region (NCR) or simply Metro Manila,is the metropolitan region encompassing the City of Manila and its surrounding areas in the Philippines. It is composed of 16 cities, namely Manila, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Pasig, Paranaque, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela and the Municipality of Pateros. It is the political, economic, social, cultural, and educational center of the Philippines. As proclaimed by Presidential Decree No.940, Metro Manila as a whole is the Philippines’ seat of Government, while the City of Manila is the capital. The largest city in the metropolis is Quezon City, while the largest  business district is the Makati Central Business District.

Metro Manila is the 11th most populous metropolitan area in the world. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 11,855,975, comprising 13% of the national population. The sum total population of provinces with a provincial density above 700 people per square kilometer (more than double the national average) in a contiguous zone with Metro Manila is 25.5 million people as of the 2007 census, one way to refer to the conurbation around Metro Manila is Greater Manila.


Metro Manila is split between a tropical wet and dry climate and a tropical monsoon climate. Manila, which features less rainfall than Quezon City, has a tropical wet and dry climate while Quezon City features a tropical monsoon climate. Together with the rest of the Philippines, Metro Manila lies entirely within the tropics. Its proximity to the equator means that the temperature range is very small, rarely going lower than 20C or higher than 38C. 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.


Metro Manila is a shopper’s paradise. “Malling” has been a pastime of Filipinos since the rise of “megamalls”, a phenomenon developed by Chinese Filipino businessman Henry Sy and his company SM. Three SM shopping malls are among the top 10 largest in the world. The largest mall in the country is currently the renovated SM City City North EDSA in Quezon City. It is expected to become the nexus for three metropolitan rail lines once the terminal station next to it is fully completed. Previously, the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay was the country’s largest mall, and before it the SM Megamall in Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong held the distinction from 1991 to 2006.

Malls are generally clustered into major shopping districts, sometimes within financial hubs such as Makati or Ortigas Center. Ayala Center, a major development within the Makati central business district, contains various up-market malls such as Greenbelt and Glorietta. SM Megamall is located within Ortigas Center, which is also the site of Robinsons Galleria, Shangri-la Plaza, and The Podium. Within the City of Manila itself, the largest malls include SM City Manila, Robinsons Place manila, and the older Harrison Plaza. Cubao is Quezon City’s central commercial area and has five malls including the Gateway Mall at the Araneta Center. There is also Eastwood City, located along Libis; SM City Fairview, in Novaliches; and TriNoma, Ayala Land’s newest mall, in front of SM City North EDSA. Newer business districts such as Bonifacio Global City have also become shopping hubs since the opening of Bonifacio High Street and Serendra. Recently opened in Pasig is a new development called Frontera Verde, which currently hosts Tiendesitas, a tiangge-style shopping center; SM Supercenter Pasig; and SilverCity AutoMall, the first mall in the Philippines that is dedicated to the automotive market.

Traditional Filipino shopping areas, while now rivalled by more modern shopping malls, maintain a presence in Metro Manila. Filipino wet markets, known locally as palengke, are most prominent within the City of Manila, especially in Divisoria, near Binondo. Cloverleaf Market in Balintawak, Quezon City supplies much of Metro Manila’s fruit and vegetable products. Navotas Port Market supplies most of Metro Manila’s fish products. Other smaller markets include the Cubao Farmers Market, EDSA Central, Nepa-Q Mart, Novaliches Talipapa, and those found in Muñoz, Balingasa, Galas, Santa Mesa, Baclaran, Pasay Libertad, and Pasay Cartimar, the latter also being one of the finest pet markets. Tiangge, or flea markets, are also prevalent in the city, and sell a wide range of dry goods, accessories and electronics.

Wealth extremes

Metro Manila is a place of economic extremes. Many high-income citizens are concentrated in gated communities in places such as Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village in Makati, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa (all three initially developed in part by the influential Zobel de Ayala family), Wack Wack Village in Mandaluyong, Valle Verde in Pasig, White Plains, La Vista, and Greenmeadows in Quezon City, Greenhills in San Juan, Marina Bay Village in Parañaque or in high-rise developments in or around central business districts, such as Rockwell Center in Makati, Eastwood City in Libis, Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, or along Roxas Boulevard overlooking Manila Bay.

In sharp contrast to these residences are the slums and illegal settlements scattered across the metropolitan area, often found on vacant government land or in districts such as Tondo, San Andres, Bagong Silangan and Payatas. Illegal settlements have been concentrated on land adjacent to the tracks of PNR lines; but with efforts to rehabilitate the railway system, steps have been taken to clear these areas and relocate the squatters to other areas.


Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which straddles the boundary between Parañaque and Pasay, is the country’s busiest airport. It consists of a domestic terminal and three international terminals; it has two main runways. It is the hub of Philippine Airlines which has its main hangar located near the Villamore Air Base. The future international gateway for the metropolitan area and the country is currently being built at Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Angeles, Pampanga. It is planned on becoming one of the world’s biggest in terms of terminal size and land area. A fast train will be built to connect the new airport to Metro Manila. Officially, NAIA is the only airport serving the Manila area. However, in practice, both NAIA and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), located in the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles, Pampanga serve the Manila area, with DMIA catering mostly to low-cost carriers that avail themselves of the lower landing fees than those charged at NAIA. In the long term DMIA is set to replace NAIA as the primary airport of the Philippines. The airport is named after the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., who was assassinated at the airport in 1983.


Metro Manila has a registered population of 11,855,975 people. However, as of 2011, the greater urban area of Manila has a population at around 21,295,000. According to the census of 2000, there were 9,932,560 people and 2,132,989 households residing in Metro Manila. With a population density of 15,617/km², it is by far the most densely populated region of the Philippines. For the period 1995 to 2000, the annual population growth rate was 1.06 percent, lower than that of the 1990 to 1995 period (3.30 percent).


The most common language spoken in households is Tagalog (94.34%). English is widely used and understood, and is the main language of the middle and upper classes and in business. Other languages of the Philippines are also spoken, mostly between family members, relatives, or neighbors belonging to the same ethnic group. Among these languages, the most spoken include the Visayan languages, Bikol languages and Kapampangan. The large majority of the population of Metro Manila is Roman Catholic (80%). Other religions represented are Protestant and Orthodox Christianity (15%), Islam (3%), and others (Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism) (2%).


Metro Manila has some of the country’s finest hospitals. These include: St. Luke’s Medical Center (Quezon City), Makati Medical Center (Makati City) and Asian Hospital and Medical Center (Muntinlupa).

Text adapted from Wikipedia.

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