On behalf of the bid team, we would like to welcome you to the Philippines, where everything is more fun, and specifically Manila, the capital of fun!
NOTE: Some parts of this summary were lifted from the article Manila on the English Wikipedia.
Manila (Filipino: Maynila) is the capital of the Philippines. It is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay, bordered by 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.
The City of Manila itself has a total population of more than 1,660,714 people according to the 2007 national census, making it the second-most populous city in the Philippines behind Quezon City. The population inhabits an area of only 38.55 square kilometers, making Manila the most densely populated city in the world. Metro Manila, the metropolitan area surrounding the city, is the most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines and the 11th in the world, with an estimated population of around 16.3 million people. The greater urban area is the fifth-largest in the world, with an estimated metropolitan population of around 20.7 million people.
Manila is ranked as a Beta+ world city, the second-wealthiest metropolitan area in Southeast Asia according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (behind Singapore), and the cheapest city in Southeast Asia for foreigners to live in, ranking 126th in the 2009 Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living rankings, below all other major cities in the region. The city also has 38 sister cities, including Wikimania host cities Taipei (2007), Haifa (2011) and Mexico City (2015).
Famously given the names "Pearl of the Orient", "Queen of the Orient", "The City of Our Affections" and "Distinguished and Ever Loyal City", among others, Manila is a vibrant center of commerce, culture, education and politics in Southeast Asia. It has historically served as the staging point for the Manila galleons which connected the New World with China, and the Port of Manila is still one of Southeast Asia's busiest ports. The city still boasts a rich culture mixing Malay, Indian, Chinese, Spanish and American influences, particularly reflected in its numerous historical buildings, museums and churches despite the widespread destruction of the city in the Battle of Manila during World War II. As the capital of the Philippines, Manila is also the microcosm of the Philippines' unique culture, offering glimpses into the cultures of the peoples that collectively form the Philippines.
Manila is located on the shores of Manila Bay. The city is built around Intramuros, the original walled city built by the Spanish in the 16th century, located on the southern banks of the Pasig River, which bisects the city into two. The city's sixteen districts are evenly divided between both halves of the city, with most tourist attractions concentrated in the southern half.
Many historical buildings and museums are found in Ermita, the district immediately outside Intramuros. Places such as the National Museum (formerly the Legislative Building), the Manila City Hall, the Manila Central Post Office and the Manila Metropolitan Theater are found along Padre Burgos Street, while Rizal Park, the U.S. Embassy and the Manila Hotel are located along Roxas Boulevard, one of southern Manila's main thoroughfares. Ermita and the neighboring district of Malate are popularly referred to as Manila's "Tourist Belt", with many hotels, shops and bars present in the area, centered in particular around the Remedios Circle. SM City Manila and Robinsons Place Manila, the city's two major malls, are also in this area.
North of Intramuros, on the northern banks of the Pasig River, is Binondo, Manila's historical Chinatown. With a continuous Chinese presence since 1594, Binondo is the world's oldest Chinatown, and is still a center of commerce as it was over the last 400 years. Divisoria, Manila's largest shopping district, is found here, as well as Escolta Street, the original "Wall Street of the Philippines", where many businesses were once headquartered. Near Binondo is Quiapo, home of the Quiapo Church, Manila's Muslim quarter, centered around the Masjid Al-Dahab (Golden Mosque), and historical landmarks such as the preserved Spanish houses of Hidalgo Street and Plaza Miranda. Both districts are separated by Santa Cruz, which contains Plaza Lacson (formerly Plaza Goiti), the erstwhile "heart" of Manila, and the city's main northern thoroughfare, Rizal Avenue (Avenida Rizal). The remaining ten districts of Manila extend outward from the city center.
Beyond Manila proper, Metro Manila contains fifteen additional cities and one independent municipality, Pateros. The metropolitan area is divided into four non-administrative districts according to their location along the Pasig River, with Manila forming its own district. Important cities within Metro Manila include Makati, the Philippines' premier financial district, Pasay, home of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and Quezon City, where most Philippine government offices are headquartered.
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 or 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.
|Weather data from the BBC
|Mean temperature - maximum
|Mean temperature - minimum
|Mean total precipitation
|Mean days with rainfall
Manila is well-served by a large network of buses, jeepneys and share taxis (locally known as "FXs"), as well as four railway lines, a water taxi service plying the Pasig River, and a number of bike paths supplemented by Bike-Kadahan, a limited bike sharing service operated by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
Since 2013, public transportation data for Metro Manila has been integrated into Google Maps, making it easier for both residents and visitors to navigate around the comprehensive yet complex network of transport routes all over the city and the surrounding provinces. A free alternative is Sakay.ph, which uses OpenStreetMap.
Manila has an extensive bus network which serves all seventeen cities and municipalities which comprise Metro Manila, as well as areas in neighboring provinces. All buses are privately-operated and several bus companies may ply a single route, especially along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). There are three types of buses:
- Ordinary buses, which are not air-conditioned. Some routes in the Manila bus network are exclusively served by ordinary buses.
- Air-conditioned buses, which are air-conditioned. Most buses are of this type.
- Provincial buses, which serve areas outside of Manila. Buses may be ordinary or air-conditioned.
Unlike many cities, bus routes in Manila are not numbered. The route and points along the way however are prominently displayed at the front of the bus, which allows for bus passengers to easily determine which bus to board to a certain destination. Bus conductors also shout the destination of the bus when picking up passengers at bus stations.
Fares are distance-based, with ordinary buses being cheaper than air-conditioned buses by around 20 percent. Fares normally begin at ₱10 for air-conditioned buses and there are discounts for students and senior citizens.
Manila is served by the Strong Republic Transit System (SRTS), which is composed of four railway lines operated by three companies. Three lines are rapid transit lines, which are mostly elevated, while one is a commuter rail line operated by the Philippine National Railways (PNR), which is at grade.
The Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT) is notable for being Southeast Asia's first rapid transit system, and along with the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT), the three rapid transit lines serve as a fast way of navigating around the metropolis. The PNR's Commuter Express (Commex) service meanwhile connects Manila with communities in southern Metro Manila and the neighboring province of Laguna. Overall, the SRTS provides coverage to 12 of Metro Manila's 17 constituent cities and municipalities, with close proximity to many major sites and attractions.
Fares on the SRTS are distance-based, with the minimum fare being ₱10 for the MRT and the PNR, and ₱12 for the LRT. The LRT and MRT are reputed for being the most affordable rapid transit systems in Southeast Asia, being significantly cheaper to ride than other systems in the region. For the convenience of passengers, stored value tickets which allow for multiple rides are available for ₱100, while the Flash Pass is available for ₱250 and allows for unlimited rides and transfers on the LRT and MRT for one week.
Manila is served by thousands of taxis, all of which are privately-operated and licensed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Some of the bigger operators dispatch taxis on call, and they serve as a convenient means of going around the city, especially in areas further away from the city centers where connectivity to public transport is poor. There are two types of taxis:
City taxis, which are mostly white, although there are some which are red, green, yellow or blue
Airport taxis, which are yellow
City taxis charge a ₱40 flag fare for the first 500 meters and ₱3.50 for every 300 meters thereafter. Airport taxis meanwhile charge a ₱70 flag fare for the first two kilometers and ₱4 for every 250 meters thereafter. Almost all taxis in Metro Manila are air-conditioned, and since 2011, all taxis are capable of issuing receipts upon request. Taxi reservation apps for smartphones such as GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi are also popular in Manila, and many taxis may be reserved through these apps.
At the airport, coupon taxis are available for hire. These are special taxis which charge a distance-based flat fare to any point in a given city in Metro Manila, as well as to points within Luzon. These taxis are more expensive than ordinary metered taxis, but are convenient for large groups of people who prefer to travel together, or for those with heavy articles such as suitcases. The Manila International Airport Authority maintains a list of coupon taxi rates on its website.
An alternative to taxis is ridesharing. Currently, Uber is available in Manila and is becoming increasingly popular.
Currency and cost of living
The official currency of the Philippines is the Philippine peso (ISO 4217: PHP, Filipino: piso), which is divided into 100 centavos (Filipino: sentimo). Prices in pesos are noted with the Philippine peso sign (₱), an uppercase P with two horizontal strokes, although a simple uppercase P is also in common use.
The Philippines has over 10,000 ATMs belonging to three main interbank networks: BancNet, Expressnet and MegaLink. Almost all ATMs in the Philippines which belong to these three networks are also connected to Cirrus and PLUS, while a growing number of ATMs also accept American Express, JCB and China UnionPay cards. While credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Manila, travelers' checks are not and only a handful of money changers, plus the American Express office in Manila and some of the larger banks, accept them.
Money changers are commonplace in Manila and are found all over the city, especially in tourist areas, and most large banks can exchange foreign currency into pesos. All legally-operating money changers are licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines). Terminal 1 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, for example, has eleven banks (four at departures, seven at arrivals) which can exchange foreign currency into Philippine pesos, and all malls in Metro Manila have at least one money changer or bank which exchanges foreign currency into pesos. As is the case with most of Asia, the U.S. dollar is the most popular foreign currency in the Philippines, although it is possible to exchange euros, pounds sterling, Australian dollars, Canadian dollars and Japanese yen with ease as well. Major Southeast Asian, East Asian and Middle Eastern currencies may also be exchanged in Manila.
|Exchange rates from the BSP (as of October 17, 2014)
||Value in PHP
||Value in PHP
||Value in PHP
| U.S. dollar
|| Japanese yen
|| Pound sterling
| Hong Kong dollar
|| Swiss franc
|| Canadian dollar
| Singapore dollar
|| Australian dollar
|| Bahraini dinar
| Kuwaiti dinar
|| Saudi riyal
|| Brunei dollar
| Indonesian rupiah
|| Thai baht
|| Emirati dirham
|| South Korean won
The cost of living in Manila, and the Philippines in general, is one of the lowest in the world: the 2009 Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living rankings places Manila in 126th place out of 134 cities, making it the eighth-cheapest city in the world to live in for expatriates. The website Living in the Philippines has an entire section dedicated to cost of living in various parts of the Philippines, including a particularly detailed article on the cost of living (as of 2011) in Manila.
Safety and security
When people think of the Philippines, one of the first questions that come to mind is whether or not the country is really safe to visit. Understandably, the question comes in light of recent events such as the ongoing Muslim insurgency, the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013 and the Manila hostage crisis in 2010. However, it should be stressed that context is very important in understanding the safety and security situation in the Philippines, and that in fact, the country is not as unsafe as it is often portrayed to be in the media or in government travel warnings.
It should be stressed that while there are travel warnings in effect for the Philippines, these are only in effect for Mindanao—and specifically western Mindanao—due to the threat posed against foreigners in light of the ongoing Muslim insurgency: something that we hope will subside in the future with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the activation of its provisions come 2016, when a new Bangsamoro entity is scheduled to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Mindanao is in the southern Philippines and is over 1000 km away from Manila, so events there very rarely affect the capital. In addition, there are no travel warnings in effect for the rest of the country issued by most major Western countries.
Like any major city, travelers should use their common sense and exercise caution when in Manila. Although crime is common, with an average crime incidence of 660 crimes a week as of September 2014, most of these crimes are petty crimes. Only 26 homicides were reported between May and September 2014, which is lower than the average homicide rate of many major cities in the United States. In most cases, local Filipinos are the target of crimes in Manila, not foreigners, and the majority of crimes occur in places not frequented by tourists. Most areas frequented by tourists are heavily policed, often monitored by both the Philippine National Police and private security firms. Security on public transport, particularly at the airport and aboard the LRT and MRT, is tight—so tight, in fact, that it has even been the subject of complaint by locals. The area around the Cultural Center of the Philippines, where the venue for Wikimania 2016 is located, is heavily policed with two police stations on or near the grounds, not only because the area is heavily touristed, but also because the venue is in proximity to the Coconut Palace, the official residence of the Vice President of the Philippines, as well as the Central Bank. The venue itself meanwhile has a private security force on the premises and bags are checked prior to entering the buildings.
- Travel warnings and advisories for the Philippines
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City of Manila
Notes and references
- ↑ "World's Densest Cities". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- ↑ "World: metropolitan areas". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
- ↑ Alquitran, Non. "NCRPO: Crime rate in Metro down". The Philippine Star (PhilStar Daily, Inc.). October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
- ↑ Villanueva, Marichu A. "Keeping on straight track". The Philippine Star (PhilStar Daily, Inc.). January 29, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
- ↑ Santos, Tina. "Redundant security measures at NAIA removed". Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inc.). May 18, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2014.