top view of manila city

Manila and Its Humble Beginnings


Manila, aka Metro Manila, is the Philippines’ version of New York – a city so hyperactive that everyone is occupied by anything 24/7. Several historical events have formed in the city since its discovery in 1571 by the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi. Now, its progress is still unstoppable as it develops into a competitive business district and Philippines’ pride.

The bloom of Manila is traced back to 1571 during the reign of conquistadors when a Spanish navigator named Miguel López de Legazpi passed through the Pasig River and entered the Manila area. Back then, it was ruled by the Muslims separated by a small unit called “barangay.” The Spaniards then deposed the local rulers, and Manila was appointed as the capital of the Philippines.

Manila is home to around 14 million of the Philippine population, the second-largest city in the Philippines next to Davao. It has a land area of 619.6 square kilometers and is considered the most populated area in the country.

Manila is composed of 16 cities namely: Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela, and Pateros.

There’s also another city in Manila called Maynila, composed of 16 districts, namely: Binondo, Ermita, Intramuros, Malate, Paco, Pandacan, Port Area, Quiapo, Sampaloc, San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz, Santa Mesa, and Tondo.

It has 897 “barangays,” the term Filipinos use to define the minor divisions of the districts.

There are a lot of important events that took place in Manila. It is the perfect destination if you want a combination of history and contemporary sights. But what are the other significant events that brought the humble Manila to the spotlight?

World War II (Battle of Manila)

Manila was a wreck after World War II. It was in 1944 when the Philippines and the United States fought against the Japanese. After the bloodshed, Manila is at the podium of being the second most destructed in the world. It is next to Warsaw, leaving 500,000 deaths and unrecognizable infrastructures.

Battle of Manila

Filipinos started rehabilitating Manila, and they came up with a creative idea. The remnants of the war gave way to the Philippine jeepney, now considered the country’s “king of the road.” The Philippine jeepney was inspired by Willy’s jeep of America and built from its remnants.

Fast forward, it is now one of the cheapest ways to get around the country.

Execution of Jose Rizal in Manila

In the 333 years of being a colony, the Filipinos did not stay submissive to Spain’s dominion. There were a series of revolutions held in every province to drive away from the Spanish forces. But what stood out the most is how Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, fought for freedom.

Jose Rizal is a multilingual journalist, scientist, farmer, ophthalmologist, and artist whose literary works inspired nationalist movements in the Philippines. He was executed in Luneta Park, Manila, in December 1986 and buried in Paco Park, which is also in Manila.

Luneta Park is also now Rizal Park, dedicated to his namesake where his remains are rested. He has a monument at the heart of the park, holding his two major novels that changed Philippine History.

Rizal Park Manila

EDSA Peaceful Revolution in Manila

As ironic as it sounds, Filipinos dazzled the world when they made history during the 1986 People Power Revolution. It is considered the most peaceful revolution globally, where two million people gathered without bloodshed. The protest lasted four days, intending to end the fourteen-year dictatorship of the then president, Ferdinand Marcos.

EDSA Peaceful Revolution in Manila

This peaceful revolution happened along EDSA (Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue) in Quezon City, joined by Filipinos from all walks of life, including nuns, civilians, military, religious groups. 

Manila’s Urban Development

In as early as the 1970s, a Presidential Decree was issued to develop Manila as a center of commerce and businesses. It speedily became a target among foreign investors, people in the industry, and multi-national companies striving to either employ Filipinos, purchase lands, infrastructures or build their businesses in the country.

Fast forward to the 19th century, Manila has a few central business districts that never sleep. Among the famed business districts found in Manila are the Makati Business District in Makati, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Ortigas Center in Pasig, Technohub, and Eastwood City Cyberpark in Quezon City.

Philippines’ pride, two of the largest shopping malls in the world are also in Manila, namely SM Megamall and SM Mall of Asia. Meanwhile, you can find most of the country’s prestigious universities in Maynila.

SM Mall of Asia In Manila

Manila has undoubtedly progressed despite its regression – from its discovery, destruction, and attempts to rise above its antagonists. Indeed, Manila’s role in defining the Philippines’ economy is vital and how it will pull the country’s progress is promising.