Metro Manila is located in the southwestern portion of Luzon. The region lies along the flat alluvial lands extending from the mouth of the Pasig River in the west to the higher rugged lands of Marikina Valley in the east. The region is geographically divided into 4 zones: the Coastal Margin, Guadalupe Plateau, Marikina Valley, and the Laguna Lowlands. The Coastal Margin that faces the Manila Bay possesses resources for offshore fisheries and fishpond development. The various reclamation projects in the area are meant for mixed-use urban development. The Guadalupe Plateau is the most adaptable to urban development activities not only because of its solid geographical foundations but also because of its existing infrastructure links with the rest of Luzon. The Marikina Valley has fertile land suitable for crop cultivation while the Marikina River provides water for industrial uses and discharge. The Laguna Lowlands is not only suitable for agriculture and aquaculture but also for industrial activity.
Metro Manila is prone to earthquakes because it is surrounded by active faults including the Marikina Valley Fault System. Other distant faults such as the Philippine Faults, Lubang Faults, Manila Trench and Casiguran Faults, are a threat as well. Because of the natural disasters that poses a threat to Metro Manila, Manila was ranked as the second riskiest capital city after Tokyo to live in according to Swiss Re.
According to the Köppen climate classification, NCR features tropical wet and dry climate and tropical monsoon climate. Metro Manila has a relatively short dry season from January through May, and a lengthy wet season from June through December.
There are two national parks in Metro Manila which is managed by the National Parks and Development Committee, the Rizal Park and Paco Park in Manila. NPDC used to manage Fort Santiago in Intramuros and the Quezon Memorial National Park in Quezon City. Because of a tripartite agreement between the Quezon City Government, the National Historical Institute and the NPDC, the management of Quezon Memorial National Park was transferred to the Quezon City Government while the maintenance of Fort Santiago is transferred to the Intramuros Administration.
NCR has three listed protected areas, these are the Rizal Park, Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center and the Manila Bay Beach Resort.
Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is considered as the largest urban park in Asia. In the Tourism Act of 2009, Rizal Park along with Intramuros are designated as flagship destination to become a tourism enterprise zone. A new attraction called Paseo de Manila is expected to rise in Rizal Park. On the other hand, Paco Park is a recreational garden which was once Manila’s municipal cemetery built by the Dominicans during the Spanish colonial period.
Founded in 1959, Manila Zoo is the oldest zoo in Asia. It is the home to more than a thousand animals from different 90 species including the 40-year-old elephant, Mali. The zoo has an average of 4,000 visitors weekly. An estimated 40,000 tourists visits the zoo each month.
La Mesa Ecopark is a 33-hectare well-developed sanctuary around the La Mesa Watershed. It was established through a joint partnership between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, ABS-CBN, and the Quezon City Government. La Mesa Ecopark, along with the Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center, are important nature reserves in the Philippines.
The Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) was declared as a critical habitat by the Government of the Philippines in 2007 and was listed by the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance in 2013. LPPCHEA is composed of the Freedom Island in Parañaque and the Long Island in Las Piñas that covers 175 hectares and features a mangrove forest of eight species, tidal mudflats, secluded ponds with fringing salt-tolerant vegetation, a coastal lagoon, and a beach.
The National Capital Region has a population of 12,877,253 according to the 2015 national census. Its total urban area, composing of the urban agglomeration which refers to the continuous urban expansion of Metro Manila into the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas has a population of 24,123,000. It is the most populous region in the Philippines, the 7th most populous metropolitan area in Asia, and the 3rd most populous urban area in the world.
The most populous cities in Metro Manila are Quezon City (2,936,116), Manila (1,780,148), Caloocan (1,583,978), Taguig (804,915), Pasig (755,300), Parañaque (665,822), Valenzuela (620,422), Las Piñas (588,894), Makati (582,602) and Muntinlupa (504,509).
The National Capital Region accounts for 37.2% of the gross domestic product of the Philippines in 2013. Furthermore, it has the highest per capita GDP of the country at ₱183,747. The employment rate of NCR is at 89.6% as of 2012. According to Brookings Institution, the 2014 share of output by industry in Metro Manila is as follows: trade and tourism: 31.4%, business/finance: 28.6%, local/non-market: 15.6%, manufacturing: 12.5%, transportation: 4.9%, construction: 4%, utilities: 2.8%, and commodities: 0.3%.
Metro Manila will add 1.85 million square meters of office spaces between 2015 and 2017 in the central business districts in Makati, Taguig, and Quezon City as more global firm such as Google and HSBC seeks to outsource business process in the Philippines. The vacancy rate for office spaces remains low, at less 3% in the year-end of 2014. Manila remains as the least expensive capital city in the Asia-Pacific to occupy prime office space at an average rent of $22 per square meter per month.
Metro Manila makes it to the “Global Top 30” cities according to property consultancy firm Jones Lang Lasalle, citing its economic scale, vast population, large gross domestic product and BPO specialization as its competitive edge. Furthermore, the region ranks 3rd for the top business process outsourcing global destinations, next to Bangalore and Mumbai. The region’s retail sector remains strong, bolstered by remittances abroad, BPOs, and its tourism sector.
Historically, the main business district of the metropolis was Binondo, where commercial trading flourished since the 15th century. By the 1960s, economic activities shifted from Binondo to Makati. It transformed Makati it into one of the leading financial centers in Asia. Still, Binondo remained as a cultural and financial center because of the vast Chinese population residing and doing business in the area.
The minimum wage of Metro Manila is at ₱481 ($10.77) for non-agricultural workers and at ₱444 ($9.94) for those working in the agricultural sector, the highest minimum wage among all the 17 regions of the country.
Central business districts
Prime business and commercial centers in the metropolis are Makati, the country’s premier financial center, Bonifacio Global City, Ortigas Center, Quezon City, Manila, Pasay and Alabang.
Metro Manila has plenty of mixed-use developments owned and developed by private corporations such as the Ayala Corporation, Megaworld Corporation and SM Prime Holdings. Ayala Land owns and develops Arca South in Taguig, Ayala Center in the Central Business District, Circuit Makati, and The Cloverleaf, Vertis North and U.P.–Ayala Land TechnoHub in Quezon City. Meanwhile, the Lucio Tan led Eton Properties owns and develops Eton Centris in the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue in Quezon City.
Makati, the sixteenth most populous city in the Philippines, is the premier business and commercial center of the Philippines. The Central Business District is the headquarters to most of the multinational corporations residing in the Philippines as well as the country’s biggest commercial firms and BPO companies. The Central Business District has an office stock of 1.1 million square meters of Grade A and premium office space. It is the home to the tallest skyscrapers in the region as well as in the country.
Bonifacio Global City is the newest business district of Manila and is the premier financial and lifestyle center of the metropolis. It is located in the north-western part of Taguig City. It used to be a military base known as Fort Bonifacio. The Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) privatized the property and its income from the sale was intended to be used for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Upon its privatization, the place was transformed it into a business hub featuring numerous tourist attractions such as The Mind Museum, high-end shops, towering office skyscrapers, and luxurious lofts and condominiums. Bonifacio Global City will overtake the Makati Central Business District as the premier financial center of the country in the future. One of the reasons for it is that the Philippine Stock Exchange will relocate its headquarters in BGC. Also, it has more spaces and land for future developments. It is also the most active business district, generating over 50 percent of the growth in property market and has more available space for rent or lease and sale than Makati.
Ortigas Center is the central business district located in Mandaluyong and Pasig, with a small portion of it located in Quezon City. Landmarks in Ortigas include the EDSA Shrine, Shangri-La Plaza and the SM Megamall. Furthermore, The Medical City has its main campus in Ortigas Center. Important financial and national institutions headquartered in Ortigas are the Asian Development Bank, Union Bank of The Philippines and the National Economic and Development Authority. Ortigas is also the home to the headquarters of San Miguel Corporation, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Lopez Group of Companies and The Manila Electric Company.
The Araneta Center, Eastwood City, both located in Quezon City are the secondary business districts of Metro Manila. Araneta Center is a secondary business district developed by the Araneta Center, Inc. which is owned by the Araneta family. Shopping malls in the place include Gateway Mall, Ali Mall, Farmers Plaza, Farmers Market and SM Cubao. Its centerpiece is the Smart Araneta Coliseum, one of the largest indoor coliseums in Asia and the main venue of the Philippine Basketball Association.
Eastwood City, located at the Bagumbayan area of Quezon City, meanwhile is a state-of-the-art residential, commercial, business and entertainment complex developed by Megaworld Corporation in Bagumbayan, Quezon City. It is the first cyberpark in the Philippines.