The Philippines is an archipelago comprising 7,107 islands with a total land area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi). The 11 largest islands contain 94% of the total land area. The largest of these islands is Luzon at about 105,000 square kilometers (40,541 sq mi). The next largest island is Mindanao at about 95,000 square kilometers (36,680 sq mi). The archipelago is around 800 kilometers (500 mi) from the Asian mainland and is located between Taiwan and Borneo.
The islands are divided into three groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Luzon islands include Luzon Island itself, Palawan, Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate and Batanes Islands. The Visayas is the group of islands in the central Philippines, the largest of which are: Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar. The Mindanao islands include Mindanao itself, plus the Sulu Archipelago, composed primarily of Basilan, Sulu Island, and Tawi-Tawi.
Metropolitan Manila (National Capital Region (NCR), Metro Manila), is the metropolitan region composed of the City of Manila and the surrounding cities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, as well as the Municipality of Pateros.
The region is the political, economic, social, cultural, and educational center of the Philippines. As proclaimed by Presidential Decree No. 940, Metro Manila, as a whole, is the Philippines’ seat of government while the City of Manila is the capital. The largest city in the metropolis is Quezon City, while the largest business district is the Makati Central Business District.
Metro Manila is the most populous of the 12 defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 11,855,975, equivalent to 13% of the national population. The sum of total population of provinces with a density above 700 people per square kilometer (more than double the national average) in a contiguous zone with Metro Manila is 25.5 million people as of the 2007 census. One way to refer to the conurbation around Metro Manila is Greater Manila Area.
Metro Manila’s gross regional product is estimated as of July 2011 to be $159 billion and accounts for 33% of the nation’s GDP. In 2011, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, it ranked as the 28th wealthiest urban agglomeration in the world and the 2nd in Southeast Asia.
Metro Manila is the financial, commercial and industrial center of the Philippines. It accounts for 33% of the Philippines’ GDP. It has a third of the country’s bank offices but over two thirds of its deposits. Makati is the financial and economic hub of the metropolitan area and the country. Its central business district hosts many of the Philippines’ largest corporations including the Ayala Group of Companies and the nation’s major banks as well as the main Philippine offices of many multinational corporations. Makati became the financial center of the Philippines during the 1950s. Many districts and landmarks in the city have become well known to outsiders. Makati has been iconified as the “Financial Capital of the Philippines”. Anchored by Ayala Avenue, Makati is the home of the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Makati Business Club, one of the most important economic hubs in the Philippines.
Manila’s economy is diverse and multifaceted. With its excellent protected harbor, Manila serves as the Chief Seaport of the Country, as the Port of Manila is one of the busiest in the world. Diverse manufacturers produce industrial-related products such as chemicals, textiles, clothing, and electronic goods. Food and beverages and tobacco products also produced. Local entrepreneurs continue to process primary commodities for export, including rope, plywood, refined sugar, copra, and coconut oil. The food-processing industry is one of the most stable major manufacturing sector in the city. One of the largest projects within the city is the ₱5 billion development by Ayala Land Inc., the Celadon Residences. Binondo has begun to be revitalized along with Divisoria, and several high-rise condominiums and offices are rising. Recently, a 20-hectare development was planned by the city government within the Port Area Manila is a major publishing center in the Philippines. Clustered in the central business districts of Makati, Ortigas Center, and Bonifacio Global City, all of the fifty tallest skyscrapers in the Philippines are located in Metro Manila, the tallest of which are The Gramercy Residences and the PBCom Tower in Makati.
Ortigas Center is Metro Manila’s second most important Philippine financial and central business district after the Makati Financial and Central Business District. With an area of at least 100 hectares, the district is located at the boundaries of Pasig, Mandaluyong, and Quezon City. It is governed by Ortigas Center Association, Inc.
Ortigas Center is home to many shopping malls, office and condominium skyscrapers and other building complexes, and nightlife bars and restaurants. These include the St. Francis Square, the Asian Development Bank compound, the Oakwood Premier serviced apartments and the Shangri-La hotel. It is also the headquarters of San Miguel Corporation, Jollibee Foods Corporation, the Philippine branch of HSBC, and Robinsons Galleria. It also home to the Banco de Oro main office owned by mall taipan Henry Sy, Sr. SM Megamall, the third largest mall in the country after SM North EDSA and SM Mall of Asia, is also in the Center along EDSA, as is the The Medical City, one of the three hospitals in the country accredited by the Joint Commission on International Accreditation.
Ortigas Center is surrounded by the streets of EDSA to the west, Ortigas Avenue to the north, Meralco Avenue to the east, and Shaw Boulevard to the south.
The Makati area is built around the former Nielsen Air Base, an American installation during World War II, and its runways now form the district’s main roads, which cross each other at the Makati Triangle, home of one of the two trading venues of the nation’s stock exchange. Ortigas Center is the second most important business district in Metro Manila. Situated in Mandaluyong and Pasig, it is home to the headquarters of several major Philippine companies such as San Miguel Corporation and Meralco, and hosts many shopping malls and hotels. It also hosts the Asian Development Bank’s headquarters and the Philippine Stock Exchange’s trading floor at Tektite Towers.
New developments seeking to become vibrant business centers of their own are Bonifacio Global City in Taguig; Eastwood City, Neopolitan Business Park and Triangle Park in Quezon City; the Manila Bay City Reclamation Area in the cities of Pasay, Parañaque and Las Piñas; and Alabang Estates, Madrigal Business Park, and Filinvest Corporate City in Muntinlupa. The traditional business center of Chinese-Filipino businessmen and the country’s CBD prior to the development of the Makati CBD was the Binondo District in the City of Manila. Escolta was the central street of commerce during the time of the Spaniards up until the development of the Makati CBD when Ayala Avenue superseded it. G.T. International Tower is an office skyscraper located in Makati, Philippines. The “G.T.” in the name stands for George Ty, the building’s owner and chairman of the Metrobank Group. Standing at 217 meters (712.93 feet). The Philippine Bank of Communications Tower, more commonly known as PBCom Tower, is an office skyscraper that currently holds the title, since 2000, of the tallest building in the Philippines. It has a total ground to architectural top height of 259 metres (850 ft), with 52 storeys, until the Completion of the Gramercy Residences, with a height of 302 metres (990 ft).
According to KMC MAG Group, Manila real estate is among the most profitable industries in the Asia-Pacific as of 2013. One of the main factors behind this trend is the city’s low real estate costs — it attracts business process outsourcing firms and other foreign investors looking to invest in Philippine real estate. There is a strong investor interest in the Philippines because of the prospects of higher yields, which is about 7.9% on average, with a 4% spread over investing in treasury bonds.
“Malling” has been a pastime of Filipinos since the rise of “megamalls”, a phenomenon developed by Chinese Filipino businessman Henry Sy and his company SM in the early 1990s. Three SM shopping malls are among the top 10 largest in the world. The largest in the country is currently the renovated SM City North EDSA in Quezon City. It is expected to become the nexus for three metropolitan rail lines once the terminal station next to it is fully completed. Previously, the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay was the country’s largest mall, and before it, the SM Megamall in Ortigas Center held the distinction from 1991 to 2006.
Malls are generally clustered into major shopping districts, sometimes within financial hubs such as Makati or Ortigas Center. Ayala Center, a major development within the Makati central business district, contains various up-market malls such as Greenbelt and Glorietta. SM Megamall is located within Ortigas Center, which is also the site of Robinsons Galleria, Shangri-La Plaza, and The Podium. Within the City of Manila itself, the largest malls include SM City Manila, Robinsons Place Manila, and the older Harrison Plaza. Cubao is Quezon City’s central commercial area and has five malls including the Gateway Mall at the Araneta Center. There is also Eastwood City, located along Libis; SM City Fairview, in Novaliches; and TriNoma, Ayala Land’s newest mall, in front of SM City North EDSA. Newer business districts such as Bonifacio Global City have also become shopping hubs since the opening of Bonifacio High Street and Serendra. Recently opened in Pasig is a new development called Frontera Verde, which currently hosts Tiendesitas, a tiangge-style shopping center; SM Supercenter Pasig; and SilverCity AutoMall, the first mall in the Philippines that is dedicated to the automotive market.
Traditional Filipino shopping areas, while now rivaled by more modern shopping malls, maintain a presence in Metro Manila. Filipino wet markets, known locally as palengke, are most prominent within the City of Manila, especially in Divisoria, near Binondo. Cloverleaf Market in Balintawak, Quezon City supplies much of Metro Manila’s fruit and vegetable products. Navotas Port Market supplies most of Metro Manila’s fish products. Other smaller markets include the Cubao Farmers Market, EDSA Central, Nepa-Q Mart, Novaliches Talipapa, and those found in Muñoz, Balingasa, Galas, Santa Mesa, Baclaran, Libertad, and Cartimar (the latter also being one of the finest pet markets). Tiangge, or flea markets, are also prevalent in the city, and sell a wide range of dry goods, accessories and electronics.