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NCR (National Capital Region) Profile

Metropolitan Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) is the capital of the Philippines and among the twenty largest metropolitan areas, in terms of population, in the world. Metro Manila is one of the two defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines, one of which is Metro Cebu.

Metropolitan Manila

Often abbreviated as M.M., Metro Manila is the metropolitan area that contains the city of Manila, as well as sixteen surrounding cities and municipalities, including Quezon City, the capital from 1948 to 1976. Metro Manila is the political, economic, social, and cultural center of the Philippines, and is one of the more modern metropolises in Southeast Asia. Among locals, particularly those from Manila proper and those in the provinces, Metro Manila is often simply referred to as Manila; however, locals from other parts of the metropolis may see this as offensive, owing to city pride and also the fact that some cities are actually geographically closer to the neighboring provinces than to Manila itself.

On paper, Manila is the designated capital and seat of the Philippine government, but in practice, the seats of government are all around Metro Manila. The executive and administrative seat of government is located in Manila, so is the judiciary. The upper house of the legislature (Senate of the Philippines) is located in Pasay City, and the lower house (Congress of the Philippines) in Quezon City.


Metro Manila is bordered by the provinces of Bulacan to the north, Rizal to the east, and Cavite and Laguna to the south. Metro Manila is also sandwiched by Manila Bay to the west and the Laguna de Bay to the southeast with the Pasig River running between them, bisecting the region. It is the smallest of the country's administrative regions, but the most populous and the most densely populated, having a population of 9,932,560 (2000 census), (nighttime population) in an area only 636 square kilometers large. It is also the only region without any provinces.

The term Metro Manila should not be confused with the metro rail system of the region, and the word metro itself always describes the metropolitan area (as in the metro). The railways are called by their abbreviations, such as the LRT and the MRT, also known as Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit, respectively.

Brief History

A portion of the Makati Central Business District Manila was first founded in June 24, 1571 by three Spanish conquistadors, led by Martin de Goiti, Juan de Salcedo and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. In 1867, the Spanish Government of the Philippines founded the municipalities and territories south of the District of Morong in Nueva Ecija, north of the Province of Tondo and Imperial Manila, and isolated these from their mother province-Nueva Ecija. The Government created the Province of Manila composed of the Province of Tondo to the south and the isolated territories of Nueva Ecija to the north. The parts of Tondo were Navotas, Malabon, and Caloocan; and the parts of Nueva Ecija were Mariquina, Balintawak, Caloocan, Pasig, San Felipe Neri (presently called Makati), Las Pinas, what had been known as Paranaque, and Muntinlupa were combined to form the Province of Manila. The capital of the Province was Intramuros, then itself called and considered to be Manila, a walled city located along the banks of Pasig River and Manila Bay in the present Manila.

In 1897, while the Imperial City of Manila is being prepared for industrialization, most houses in Tondo were demolished to give way to railroad construction. One of those whose house was demolished was Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangan, Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Supreme and Revered Union of the Children of the Nation) or KKK, a secret organization which aimed towards independence and self-governance away from the Spanish government.

In 1896, the Cry of Balintawak was initiated, an event which denounces the Spanish authority by tearing their cedulas or residence tax slips. On December 30, 1896, Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero, was executed by the Spanish government in Bagumbayan, an execution site near Intramuros. This event led to the Filipino uprising against Spain. Likewise, The Province of Manila was the 8th and last Province to revolt against Spain paving the establishment of the Federated Philippine Republics (composed of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite and Manila). The Province remained in existence until 1901, when its territory was subdivided by the Americans.

In 1901, the Philippine Assembly created the City of Manila composed of the Municipalities of Ermita, Intramuros or Imperial City of Manila, Tondo, Santa Cruz, Santa Ana, San Nicolas, San Miguel, Paco, Port Area, Pandacan, Sampaloc, Quiapo, Binondo and others. Some Assemblymen included the municipalities of Caloocan, Marikina, Pasig, Paranaque, Malabon, Navotas, San Juan, Makati, (San Felipe Neri) Mandaluyong, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa and Taguig-Pateros to a new province named Rizal. The capital of the province was Pasig.

In 1976, owing a great respect to the history of Manila, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree 824, creating the Metropolitan Manila Area. The site of the old province of Manila can no longer be used for agricultural purposes and therefore the term 'province' is not applicable. The decree seceded the 12 municipalities and 2 cities of Rizal, the municipality of Valenzuela in Bulacan, Quezon City and Manila. The Metropolitan Manila Commission was created to administer the emerging metropolis. Marcos appointed his wife Imelda Marcos as governor of Metro Manila.

In 1986, after a major government reorganization, President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 392 and changed the structure of the Metropolitan Manila Commission and renamed it to Metropolitan Manila Authority. Metro Manila Mayors chose from themselves as chair of the agency.

In 1995, through Republic Act 7924, Metro Manila Authority was reorganized and became the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. The chair of the agency is appointed by the President and should not have a concurrent elected position such as mayor.

Cities and Municipalities

Map of Metro Manila showing the cities and municipalities. Metro Manila is now composed of sixteen cities and one municipality. Each is governed by a mayor who belongs to the Metro Manila Mayor's League, which is part of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Unlike other regions which are divided into provinces, Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) is divided into four nonfunctioning districts, which are grouped according to geographical basis in reference to the Pasig River. These districts were created in 1976 but have no local government and no congressional representation, in contrast to that of the provinces. These districts are used mostly for fiscal and statistical purposes.

The cities and municipalities within the NCR are grouped into the four districts as follows:

1) 1st District: City of Manila; 2) 2nd District: Mandaluyong City, Marikina City, Pasig City, Quezon City, San Juan City; 3) 3rd District: Caloocan City, Malabon City, Navotas City, Valenzuela City; 4) 4th District: Las Pinas City, Makati City, Muntinlupa City, Paranaque City, Pasay City, Pateros Municipality, and Taguig City.

Places of Interest

A colonial house in Intramuros, Manila has been the capital of the Philippines for about 500 years, as well as of Spanish Asia, and for this reason, Metro Manila has a lot to offer in terms of interesting areas and places.

  • Rizal Park

Located west of Metro Manila, Rizal Park is the reference point for all kilometer points in the island of Luzon and the Philippines. It features the statue of the Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal, as well as several Philippine flags, a gigantic relief map of the Philippines, scenic Chinese gardens, and the several government offices, such as the Department of Tourism.

On the seaside front of Rizal Park are numerous seafood restaurants specializing in Filipino and Asian cuisine. The National Museum of the Filipino People can be also found here. It is a complex of two Greco-Roman buildings which house ancient relics, native mummies, natural treasures and factual galleries about the Philippines and other countries. The museum also boasts a vast collection of artworks and masterpieces crafted by Filipinos which were commended by the

Interesting places include the well-admired sunset of Manila Bay and the first planetarium in Southeast Asia. The Quirino Grandstand, which apart from the regular miting de avance (Spanish: political gatherings), is also a popular rendezvous of various religious groups, such as El Shaddai and other popular American-based Protestant movements, such as Benny Hinn International Ministries.

  • Intramuros – The Walled City

Intramuros is a 400-year-old Imperial City, a walled domain which was once the seat of government during the Spanish Colonial Era and Mid-American Periods. Among its attractions are Fort Santiago, a timeworn Spanish military fortress which was also the cell for the national hero, Jose Rizal in 1896; Casa Manila, a Spanish colonial villa which is converted into a house gallery; Manila Cathedral, the official seat of the Archbishop of Manila; San Agustin Church, the oldest existing church/building in the Philippines that survived the wars and earthquakes of Manila since 1587; Intramuros Golf Club, a prime golf course outside the walls; and the Clam Shell Tent, an exhibition center of the Department of Tourism. Horse-carriages and tourist buses are also some of the attractions. The rest also includes a walk above the walls surrounding Intramuros, government offices, universities and colonial houses.

  • Fort Bonifacio

Fort Bonifacio is the location of military detachments, cemeteries, International schools, and world-class dining and shopping facilities.

Other local recreation areas

  • Nayong Pilipino (Philippine Village) in Parañaque City
  • Quezon City Memorial Circle and Ninoy Aquino Wildlife Center, both located in Diliman district of Quezon City
  • The posh Greenbelt Center located in Makati City
  • The Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex and Bay City, both located in Pasay City
  • Located in Manila are the Paco Park, Arroceros Botanical Garden, Manila Zoo, Plaza Rajah Sulayman, Plaza Miranda, new Rizal Avenue Bargain Walkway, the all-steel Gothic Church of San Sebastian
  • The bars and night clubs of Ermita and Malate districts and the famous Roxas Boulevard Bay Walk which offers a fine view of the legendary Manila Bay sunset and hip-dining of Asian, Western and Filipino cuisine, are also in Manila
  • Other shopping centers in Ortigas Center include Robinson's Galleria, Shangri-la Plaza, and The Podium.
  • Recently opened in Pasig is a new development called Frontera Verde, which currently hosts Tiendesitas, a tiangge-style shopping center. Soon to rise are a new SM development as well as several other malls.
  • In the Central Business District of Makati, the Ayala Center hosts other malls, including Glorietta and the upscale Greenbelt shopping districts. Also in Makati is the Rockwell Center. These places are frequented by most of Metro Manila's rich.
  • Taguig City has a mall named Market-Market, which is strategically located in a transportation hub.
  • In Manila itself, the largest malls include SM City Manila and Robinson's Place-Ermita.
  • Cubao is Quezon City's Central Commercial Area that hosts 5 malls that includes the ultra-modern Gateway Mall. Other malls include various SM chains in the metropolis. Aside from Cubao, there is also Eastwood, located along Libis.

Popular Markets

Metro Manila has a lot of markets, locally called palengke. Two of these are the Central Market, located in Quiapo and Divisoria Market, located in district of Manila. Cloverleaf Market in Balintawak, Quezon City supplies most of Metro Manila's fruit and vegetable products. Navotas Port Market supplies most of Metro Manila's fish products. Other smaller markets include the markets of Cubao Farmers, Nepa-Q Mart, Muñoz, Balingasa, Galas, Santa Mesa, Novaliches Talipapa, Baclaran, Pasay Libertad, and Pasay Cartimar, the latter also being one of the finest pet markets in the Philippines.

Midway between a mall and a market are the Philippine-only tiangges, or airconditioned markets selling goods such as clothes, shoes, accessories, computer parts, mobile phones, CDs, VCDs, MP3s, iPods, and DVDs. Among these can be found in Greenhills Shopping Center in the municipality of San Juan and St. Francis Square in Mandaluyong City.

Business Districts

Makati City is widely acknowledged as the financial capital of the country where one can find the Makati Central Business District (CBD). Interesting landmarks in Makati's Central Business District include Ayala Center, composed of Glorietta and Greenbelt, Ayala Museum, and Yuchengco Museum. Also in Makati is Rockwell Center. Most multi-national company offices and embassies in the Philippines are situated in Makati. Also posing as competitors for a vibrant business center are Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Eastwood City in Quezon City, Ortigas Center in Pasig City, Manila Bay City Reclamation Area in the cities of Pasay, Parañaque and Las Pinas, and Alabang Estates and Madrigal Business Park in Muntinlupa.

Dining and Nightlife

Greenbelt Park at the heart of Makati CBD is where al fresco cafes and restaurants are situated. Dining is primarily concentrated in the vast malls, and in Greenhills, Ortigas Center, Makati, Eastwood City, Rockwell Center, and in Roxas Boulevard. Nightlife in Metro Manila is very vibrant. The districts of Malate and Ermita in Manila are popular tourist spots, while some prefer to go to Timog Avenue, epecially Dapo on Scout Borromeo, and Eastwood and Acropolis in Quezon City, the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, or Ayala Center and Rockwell Center in Makati City.

Place of Economic Extremes

Most of the rich and upper-middle class in the country reside within gated communities in places such as Forbes Park, Dasmariñas Village, Bel-Air Village, and Urdaneta Village in Makati, Loyola Heights, La Vista Subdivision, Corinthian Gardens, Greenmeadows, Capitol Hills District, Ayala Heights, Filinvest 1 and 2, Baranggay South Triangle, Baranggay West Triangle, New Manila, St. Ignatius Village, and White Plains of Quezon City, Valle Verde Village of Pasig City, Marina Village of Parañaque City, Greenhills in San Juan, and Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City.

Other rich families opt to live urban lifestyles and instead own large apartments and condominium units such as those in the Rockwell Center in Makati and the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. That the area is populated by many of the wealthiest people in the country has also driven up the real estate value of the properties in these areas such that they are unmatched anywhere else.

There are also some smaller villages in Quezon City, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Pasay where wealthy people also reside. Some of them are Horseshoe Village, Acropolis Village, etc.

Metro Manila is also characterized by a very large middle class group scattered throughout the metropolis. The middle-class group in Metro Manila enjoys much more spending power, access to education, and far better living qualities than the quite numerous poverty-stricken people that migrate to Metro Manila from the provinces.

The World-Class Toll Expressway

The metropolis has an extensive system of highways connecting the various cities and municipalities. The major roads include ten radial roads, which branch out from central Manila and five circumferential roads which form a series of concentric semi-circular arcs around downtown Manila. Most of these roads are very important transportation arteries.

One is the C-4 (Circumferential Road 4), also called Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or more popularly as EDSA. It is the major thoroughfare in Metro Manila connecting five cities in Metro Manila, namely Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, and Caloocan. Some other important roads are R-1 (Radial Road 1) (Roxas Boulevard and Manila-Cavite Expressway) connecting to Cavite province in the southwest; R-3 or the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) connecting to Laguna province in the southeast; R-6 (Aurora Boulevard and Marcos Highway) connecting to Rizal province in the east; and R-8 or the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) connecting to Bulacan province in the north. One of its newest roads, the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, running on the reclamation area parallel to R-1, is one of the destinations of Manila's elite.


As of 2005, there are two different rapid transit systems in Metro Manila: the Manila Light Rail Transit System, or the LRT, and the Manila Metro Rail Transit System, or the MRT. The Yellow Line (LRT-1) and the Purple Line (MRT-2) form the LRT network, while the Blue Line (MRT-3) forms the MRT network, with 29 stations on the LRT and 13 stations on the MRT. Four more lines are proposed and would connect Metro Manila to the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal upon their completion.

Philippine National Railways also operates two main-line railway lines within Metro Manila, all part of the once-flourshing Luzon railway system. The northern line, known as Northrail and connecting Manila to Caloocan City, is currently closed. Line extensions are proposed to Valenzuela City and further on to Bulacan and Pampanga. The trans-Metro Manila portion of the still-open southern line, known as Southrail, commences at Tutuban station in Tondo, Manila, passes through the cities of Manila, Makati, Taguig, Parañaque and Las Piñas, and ends in Barangay Buli, Muntinlupa City, before entering the province of Laguna.


The country's main airport is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which straddles the boundary between Paranaque City and Pasay City. It presently consists of two terminals, while a third one will open soon. There is also a separate domestic terminal. There are two main runways and the hangar of Philippine Airlines is located near the Villamor Air Base.

There are four airport terminals in Metro Manila, all of which are located in Parañaque City, 9 kilometers south of the City of Manila.

  1. NAIA-1: NAIA-1 is the original terminal and was constructed in 1981. The 67,000 square meter terminal was designed by Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin and has a design capacity of 4.5 million passengers per year. It currently serves all non-Philippine Airlines international flights. The terminal has reached capacity in 1991 and has been over capacity ever since.
  2. NAIA-2: NAIA-2 terminal was finished in 1998 and is named the Centennial Terminal since 1998 was the centennial year of the declaration of Philippine independence. The 75,000 square meter terminal was originally designed by Aeroports de Paris to be a domestic terminal, but the design was later modified to accommodate international flights. It has a capacity of 2.5 million passengers per year in its international wing and 5 million in its domestic wing, which later will expand to nine million passengers yearly. Terminal 2 is the home of Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines and is used for both its domestic and international flights since it has the most flights out of the NAIA terminals.
  3. NAIA-3: NAIA-3 was approved for construction in 1997 and is nearly complete. The modern US$500 million, 189,000 square meter facility was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) to have a capacity of 13 million passengers per year. However, a legal dispute between the government of the Philippines and the project's main contractor, PIATCO, over alleged anomalies in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract, is holding completion and opening of the terminal. On December 2004, the Philippine Government took over the management of the facility through an order of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC). Manila International Airport Authority is due to announce its opening in March 2006.
  4. Domestic Airport: The Domestic Airport was built on 1948 on the old Airport Road. It currently handles all domestic air traffic, excluding Philippine Airlines and Air Philippines. Currently, the terminal is composed of two single-story buildings and serves the domestic flights of other local carriers, which are Cebu Pacific, Asian Spirit, Southeast Asian Airlines (Seair), Laoag International Airlines and Interisland Airlines.

Ethnic Groups

Being in the heart of the Tagalog region, Tagalogs constitute the majority in Metro Manila. However, being the capital of the nation, Metro Manila has also attracted great migrations of other Filipino ethnolinguistic groups from around the country, especially those of Ilocano, Bicolano, Cebuano, Waray, and Maranao descent. Manila is the main hub of the Spanish mestizo minority. Small foreign communities include the Chinese, Americans, South Asians, Spaniards, Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans, Arabs, and various others.


Filipino (the National Language that is based on Manileño Tagalog) and English are both official languages, and virtually all Metro Manileños understand them. Other languages spoken by regional immigrants include Tagalog, Cebuano, Bicolano, Waray, Kapampangan, Ilocano, and Maranao, though there are also more than 86 different dialects in the Philippines. Foreign languages other than English spoken by a limited number of people, mostly immigrant communities, include Spanish, Sindhi, Punjabi, Japanese, Bahasa Indonesia, Korean, and several other European languages.


The principal religion of the Filipinos is Roman Catholicism. The Chinese and the Indians practice Buddhism and Hinduism, respectively, while those of American, Northern European, and Chinese descent tend to be Protestants. Most Maranao Filipinos and Indonesians practice Islam.


Metro Manila is home to several leading Philippine educational institutions such as the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University-Manila, the University of the Philippines (both the Diliman and Manila campuses), and the University of Santo Tomas. Other noteworthy institutions of higher learning include Adamson University, Arellano University, Assumption College, Centro Escolar University, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Far Eastern University, Miriam College, Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila, Philippine Normal University, Philippine Women's University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, San Beda College, the University of Asia and the Pacific, the University of the East, and the University of Manila.

Metro Manila is also home to numerous public and private basic education institutions, science high schools, and international schools.

Every year, thousands of students from the various countries of Asia, such as China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and even from Europe go to the Philippines to study.


     Cathedral Parish of St. Andrew                             Fort Santiago Gate                                                    LRT J. Ruiz

               Makati Skyline                                                    Malacanang Palace                          Marikina Riverbanks Center

      Ninoy Aquino International Airport                              Ortigas Center                                                        PICC

    Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church                       Quezon City Memorial Circle                                           Rizal Park

Saint Joseph Parish Church, Las Piñas                 Skyline of Alabang, Muntinlupa                                Taguig Street

SM Mall of Asia