The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







For other meanings of the word, see Manila (disambiguation).

Manila (Maynila in Filipino) is the capital city of the Philippines. The city stands on the eastern shore of Manila Bay on the largest and northernmost Philippine island, Luzon. Despite pockets of grinding poverty, it is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and its metropolitan area is the country's economic, cultural, educational, and industrial center. Manila is often called the Pearl of the Orient.


City of Manila
Founded: June 24, 1571

2000 census—1,581,082.

Density—41,014 per km².
Area: 38.55 km²
Barangays: 897
Congressional districts: 1st to 6th districts of Manila
Mayor: Jose "Lito" L. Atienza, Jr. (1998 - 2007)
Class: 1st class; urban

Manila is the hub of a thriving metropolitan area of more than 10 million people. The Metro Manila area, to where the City of Manila belongs, is a much bigger metropolis consisting of 17 cities and municipalities. This article discusses the city itself; see Metro Manila for the article on the metropolis.

The city itself is the Philippines' second most populous city at more than 1.5 million inhabitants. Only Quezon City, a suburb and the country's former capital, is more populous.

Over the centuries, Manila grew from a small Muslim fishing village on the banks of the Pasig River into the seat of the colonial government of Spain when it controlled the Philippine Islands. Later on, the Americans controlled the Philippines and Manila became an internationally-known city in the Orient. During World War II, much of the city was destroyed, but was eventually rebuilt. In 1975, Manila and the surrounding towns and cities was incoporated into the independent entity of Metro Manila to better manage the affairs of the fast-growing region. Today, the city and the metropolis thrives as an important cultural and economic center. However, overpopulation, traffic congestion, pollution, and crime challenges the city.

The Seal of Manila 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 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 portion. The colors of the seal mirror that of the Flag of the Philippines.

The City

Manila lies at the mouth of the Pasig River on the eastern shores of Manila Bay, which is on the western side of Luzon. It lies about 950 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong and 2,400 kilometers northeast of Singapore. The river bisects the city in the middle. Almost all of the city 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. The layout of the city was haphazardly planned during Spanish Era as a set of communities surrounding Intramuros. Intramuros is the original walled-city of Manila. During the American Period, some semblace of city planning using the architectural designs by Daniel Burnham, was done on the portions of the city south of the Pasig River.

Manila is bordered by several municipalities and cities in Metro Manila: Navotas and Caloocan City to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong City to the east, Makati City to the southeast, and Pasay City to the south.

Map of Manila
Map of Manila

The city is divided into 16 geographical districts. Only one district was not an original town-Port Area. The eight districts north of the Pasig are Binondo, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Miguel, San Nicolas , Santa Cruz , Santa Mesa, and Tondo. The other eight are Ermita, Intramuros, Malate , Paco , Pandacan , Port Area , San Andres , and Santa Ana . San Andres was previously part of Santa Ana, and Santa Mesa, once a part of Sampaloc.

All of these districts, with the exception of Port Area, have their own churches, and several of the these districts have achieved recognition in their own right. The district of Binondo is the city's Chinatown. Tondo is the poorest, while the districts of Ermita and Malate are well-known and popular with tourists, having many bars, restaurants, five-star hotels, and shopping malls.

The Pasig River is crossed by a number of bridges in Manila. Eastward they are Roxas Bridge (commonly referred to as the Del Pan Bridge), Jones Bridge, McArthur Bridge, Quezon Bridge, Ayala Bridge, Nagtahan Bridge (also known as Mabini Bridge), Pandacan Bridge, and Lambingan Bridge.

Parks and Open Areas

Directly south of Intramuros lies Rizal Park , the country's most significant park. Also known as Luneta (Spanish term for "crescent or moon") and previously as Bagumbayan, the 60-hectare Rizal Park sits on the site where José Rizal, the country's national hero, was executed by the Spanish on charges of subversion. A monument stands in the park for his honor where Rizal was buried. Rizal Monument is the Kilometer Zero for road distances on the island of Luzon. Some features of Rizal Park include the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the Department of Tourism, the National Museum of the Filipino People, The National Library of the Philippines, the Planetarium, an open-air auditorium for cultural performances, a relief map of the Philippines, a fountain area, a children's lagoon, and the Quirino Grandstand.

Another famous open space in Manila is the Baywalk. This promenade lies in front of the Manila Bay where you can experience one of the breathtaking sunsets of the world. Coconut trees, giant kaleidoscopic lamp posts, al fresco cafès and restaurants, and live acoustic bands dot this two-kilometer stretch of ample space beside Roxas Boulevard.

Aside from Rizal Park, Manila has very few other open public spaces. Rajah Sulayman Park, Manila Boardwalk, Liwasang Bonifacio, Plaza Miranda, Paco Park, Adriatico Circle, Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, and the Malacañang Garden are some of the other parks in the city. In the northernmost part of the city lies the three cemeteries of Loyola, Chinese, and Manila North Green Park.

Public Markets and Shopping Malls

Every district in the city with the exception of Port Area has its own public market, locally called the pamilihang bayan. Public markets are often divided into two, the dry goods section and the wet goods section. Commerce in these public markets are in full swing, especiallly in the early morning. Under the urban renewal program of the incumbent administration, some of the public markets had been refurbished and given a fresher look, like the Sta. Ana public market. It is one of the more advanced markets in the city featuring a modern 2-storey building with an escalator.

The tropical climate in Manila plus the facilities of its world-class malls continue to attract Filipinos to the shopping malls. Modern shopping malls dot the city especially in the areas of Malate and Ermita. SM City Manila, part of the country's largest chain of malls, stands behind the Manila City Hall. One of the popular malls that lies at the heart of Manila is Robinson's Place Ermita. In the southern part of the city in Malate district is Harrison Plaza, one of the city's oldest shopping malls.

For the adventurous shoppers, you may venture beyond the hotel/shopping complex package and combine other interesting destinations for cheap buys such as in Divisoria and Quiapo districts. Bargaining is the major part of your shopping experience when you pass by on these areas, as it sells goods at rock-bottom prices. In Divisoria, there is already a shopping mall that caters to the adventurous shoppers. Tutuban Center in Divisoria gives a little comfort to the shoppers as it offers air-conditioned mall, but the price of the goods here is still very similar to the goods bought outside. In Quiapo, one unique spot is the marketplace under the bridge. It sells indegineous Filipino crafts and delicasies. Raon Center is famous for its cheap electonic products. Though through the changing times, department stores began sprouting the Quiapo area, but still the flea market of Quiapo is still vibrant and very much popular among the average Filipinos.

Interesting Spots

  • Rizal Park (Luneta)
  • Intramuros, the walled-city of built by the Spaniards as their official residence
  • Fort Santiago
  • Malacañang Palace, the Philippine president's official residence
  • Manila Baywalk
  • Rajah Sulayman Park
  • Manila Boardwalk
  • Ermita and Malate Districts, a place for Bohemian night life
  • Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden (Manila Zoo)
  • National Library of the Philippines
  • Paco Park, the location of the hit "Concert at the Park"
  • University Belt Area
  • Chinatown (Binondo district)
  • Malls and Shopping Centers
    • SM City Manila
    • SM Centerpoint (SM City Sta. Mesa)
    • SM Department Store Quiapo
    • Robinson's Place Manila
    • Harrison Plaza
    • Ever Gotesco Mall Recto
    • Isetann Department Store
    • Divisoria Flea Market
    • Tutuban Center
    • Quiapo Bargain Center, home for endless bargain goods
    • Pamilihan sa ilalim ng tulay (literally means "a marketplace under the bridge), a center for indegineous Filipino products
  • Churches
    • Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral)
    • Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church)
    • San Agustin Church
    • Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church)
    • Our Lady of Remedios Church (Malate Church)
    • Minor Basilica of San Sebastian (San Sebastian Church), the only all-steel church in Gothic style in Asia
    • Santa Ana Church
  • Sports Centers
    • Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC)
    • Santa Ana Racing Park (formerly San Lazaro Hippodrome)
  • Universities and Colleges
    • University of the Philippines
    • University of Santo Tomas, the only Catholic University in Asia
    • De La Salle University
    • Far Eastern University
    • Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila
    • Philippine Normal University
    • Technological University of the Philippines
    • Polytechnic University of the Philippines
    • Philippine Women's University
    • Arellano University
    • Mapua Institute of Technology
    • San Sebastian College - Recoletos
    • Centro Escolar University
    • Lyceum of the Philippines
    • Colegio de San Juan de Letran
    • City College of Manila
  • Museums
    • National Museum of the Filipino People
    • Museo Pambata (Children's Museum)
    • Museo ng Maynila (Museum of Manila)
    • Intramuros Light and Sound Museum
  • Cemeteries
    • Manila North Green Cemetery
    • La Loma Cemetery
    • Chinese Cemetery


Manila began as a Muslim settlement at the mouth of the Pasig River along the shores of Manila Bay. The name came from the term maynilad, literally "there is nilad." Nilad is a white-flowered mangrove plant that grew in abundance in the area.

In the mid-1500s, the areas in present-day Manila was governed by three rajahs, or Muslim community leaders. They were Rajah Sulayman and Rajah Matanda who ruled the communities south of the Pasig, and Rajah Lakandula who ruled the community north of the river. Manila was then the northernmost Muslim sultanate in the islands. It held ties with the sultanates of Brunei, Sulu, and Ternate in Cavite.

Arrival of the Spanish

In 1570, a Spanish expedition ordered by Miguel López de Legaspi and led by Martin de Goiti departed from Cebu and arrived in Manila. The natives tentatively welcomed the foreigners but a later conflict pushed Goiti to conquer the settlements. Legaspi followed the next year and made a peace pact with the three rajahs and organized a city council consisting of two mayors, 12 councilors, and a secretary. The enclave of Intramuros, at the southern banks of Pasig River was built to protect the Spanish colonizers. On June 10, 1574, King Philip II of Spain gave Manila the title of Insigne y Siempre Leal Ciudad ("Distinguished and Ever Loyal City"). In 1595, Manila was proclaimed as the capital of the Philippine Islands.

The Philippine Revolution

American Period

The headquarters for USAFFE were located here as were the U.S. 31st Infantry Regiment and the U.S. 808th Military Police Company . The headquarters and bulk of the Philippine Division was located just to the south, at Fort William McKinley. The headquarters for the Far East Air Force was on the outskirts of town, at Nielson Field. Nearby, at Nichols Field was the U.S. 20th Air Base Group. A battalion of the U.S. 12th Quartermaster Regiment was located in the port area and training was conducted there for quartermasters of the Philippine Army.

There were 6 airfields, for the Far East Air Force, within 130 km of Manila, notably Clark, Nichols, and Nielson fields.

World War II

Manila was captured by Japanese forces on January 2, 1942 but on February 5, 1945 American General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled a promise to return to the Philippines (see Leyte). On February 23 Manila was liberated. Allied troops did not reach the city in time to prevent the Manila Massacre though.

Manila and Security

Manila has been subject to militant attacks. The metropolis have been targeted twice by groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf. In addition, Al-Qaida cells have been discovered in the metropolis.

Project Bojinka, which was a large-scale attack being planned in late 1994 and early 1995, was being planned in Manila. The project was abandoned after the night of January 6, 1995 and the morning of January 7, when an apartment fire led investigators to a laptop computer containing the plans.

External Links

The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy