Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is the 7th largest city in the National Capital Region (NCR), otherwise called Metropolitan Manila. NCR is one of the 17 regions in the Philippines. It is located at the mouth of Pasig River and Manila Bay and found in South-western part of Luzon, the biggest island of the Philippine archipelago.

It is bounded on the west by Manila Bay, on the north by Navotas and Caloocan City, on the east by Quezon City, San Juan and Mandaluyong City, and on the South by Makati City, Pasay City and Parañaque City.

Organisation reference

Philippine Normal University


There are more than 300 higher education institutions (HEIs) in Metro Manila (NCR) of the 1,710 HEIs in the country. 28 of the 233 public HEIs are in NCR. About 50 HEIs with four state universities and two local universities are in Manila. A number of big HEIs in Manila have campuses outside of Manila. For instance, the Philippine Normal University has four campuses located in North Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The same situation holds true with the Technological University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, De la Salle University and many more.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Manila can be described as widely diverse and dynamic. There are both public and private HEIs. Among the public HEIs, there are state universities operating with the support of the national government (e.g., University of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University), and local city-funded universities (e.g., Universidad de Manila, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila). On the other hand, private HEIs are composed of sectarian (e.g., Da La Salle University, St. Paul University Manila) and non-sectarian institutions (e.g., Emilio Aguinaldo College, Lyceum of the Philippines University). Most sectarian institutions are under the Catholic Church.

There are comprehensive universities that conduct research activities and offer a wide variety of programs in various areas such as Sciences, Liberal Arts, and Education (e.g., De La Salle University), and there are also those that specialise in specific areas such as technology and engineering (e.g., Technological University of the Philippines, Mapua Institute of Technology), and education (e.g., Philippine Normal University). Most HEIs offer programs both in the tertiary and graduate levels.

Geographical context

The city of Manila lies in a coastal area, specifically in the coast of Manila Bay. Thus, it is considered as a low-lying area. It is said that Manila developed from a river delta and has now been altered by its inhabitants. Since the influx of migrants from the provinces, Manila expanded to nearby towns that expanded into cities and this group of cities compose Metro Manila (Ragrario, 2003).

Manila is a mega city with 16 highly urbanised cities composed of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig, and Valenzuela, with a total 1,705 barangays (the smallest political unit of the country).

Social context

It is the smallest region in terms of land area (1,425 km2 - 0.48% of total land area of the Philippines); yet, it is the most thickly populated region with an estimated population of 12.88 million as of 2015, and Manila’s share of the population is 1.78 million. Manila’s population increases by 1.58% annually (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2016a).

Manila is the most highly urbanised city in the country and the most densely populated city in the Philippines, with 71,263 persons per square kilometres in 2015 (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2016),  which is 60 times higher than the country-wide population density of 337 persons per square kilometres of the country.

Economic context

Manila is bustling with economic activities such as business and trading, transportation, electronics, business product outsourcing, tourism, and other service-oriented activities. Manila Harbour, the country’s main seaport, can host hundreds of ships at the same time, and it is a busy harbour for import and export processes. New buildings such as hotels, condominiums and malls are built to cater to tourists, residents and other migrants. Other new players are those in the gaming industries and entertainment.

Manila and the country are economically growing because the city is now a key player in the business product outsourcing. Moreover, remittances from migrant workers make the country withstand economic crises.

Environmental issues

There are a number of environmental issues in Manila. These include: poor flood control; air and noise pollution; water pollution; poor enforcement of environmental laws; and urban heat island effect. These are discussed below.

Poor Flood Control

Heavy downpour of rain lasting for one hour or so cause floods in some districts of Manila. Although there are only very few areas that might be flooded, the rest of the city’s roads are affected because of the traffic flow. There are also instances when the roads above the underpasses tend to be flooded while the underpasses are not. This would only show that flood control mechanisms and drainage are not efficient and not in place. The local government needs to strategise its flood control programs.

Air and Noise Pollution

The recent strike of Jeepney drivers (October, 2017) caused suspension of work and classes in Manila, the rest of NCR, and some provinces. Jeepneys evolved from the American jeeps and were later modified for use in public transport by some enterprising Filipinos. The jeepney drivers refused the modernization program of the government and they still stick to drive their old jeepneys. In the new program, the old jeepneys were ordered to be phased out and replaced by new jeepneys run by electricity with air-conditioning units (…). At present jeepneys that run in Manila and neighboring cities are old -about 20 years or more, and they emit dark smoke and noise resulting in air and noise pollution.

Water Pollution

Manila’s source of water came from nearby dams and rivers since Manila has already lost its watershed due to urbanization. The establishment of industries and residential areas in Manila brought damage to Manila Bay and Pasig River and its estuaries. These water systems are now polluted and considered dead. Despite efforts of various sectors to revive the water systems, said water systems are still in a bad state.

Poor Enforcement of Environmental Laws

Laws and ordinances such as the “Clean Water Act of the Philippines,” “Clean Air Act,”  “Water Crisis Act,” “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” and many others were promulgated to protect the environment. However, much has to done in terms of law enforcement and implementation of the laws.

Urban Heat Island Effect

The rapid growth of population due to urbanization and industrialization has depleted the vegetation areas. Manila’s agricultural lands were replaced by high-rise buildings, residential areas, condominiums and other establishments and infrastructures. This phenomena have led to the urban heat island (UHI) effect (Vallar et al., 2015). UHI manifested through less evaporation, higher surface temperatures, larger sensible heat fluxes, and a deeper boundary layer (Taha, 1997; Sugawara & Narita, 2008 in Vallar, 2015). This phenomenon “lead[s] to less water vapour, more water vapour mixing in the boundary layer and less convective available potential energy for triggering initiation of convection and rainfall formation” (Zhang et al., 2009).

Social issues

There are a number of issues in Manila: public health issues; increased number of slum areas; prevalence of gender based violence; and crime and drug related crime rates. These are discussed below.

Public health issues

The NCR data shows that the mortality rate of children is quite high. In 2013, figures show 16% infant mortality, 3% child mortality, and 22% under five years old mortality. The top 10 causes of infant and children mortality are caused by bacterial sepsis of the newborn, pneumonia (including congenital pneumonia), respiratory distress of the newborn, disorders related to short gestation and low birth weight,  neonatal aspiration syndromes, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis of presumed infectious origin, intrauterine hypoxia and birth asphyxia, and other congenital malformations.

For adults, the top ten causes of morbidity are acute respiratory infection, ALTRI and pneumonia, hypertension, Bronchitis, urinary tract infection, acute watery diarrhoea, Influenza,  TB respiratory, acute febrile illness, and Dengue fever. Generally, these cases are registered from individuals living in poverty (Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey, 2013, pp. 185-207).

The same demographic and health survey data in 2013 show that:

  • Malnutrition is a significant problem with 12.9% of the children underweight, 22.4% with stunted growth and 6.5% overweight ;
  • Only 61% of the married women use any form of contraceptive which implies that the birth rate will continue to grow;
  • Of the 1,705 barangays, only about 400 barangays have health stations;
  • There were only 619, 000 doctors, 498,000 dentists, 904,000 nurses, and 1,138,000 midwives who serve the 28 million population of NCR;
  • Funds for health are predominantly coming from private sources (68%) and only about 19% from the government;
  • There are 51 government hospitals and 132 private hospitals.

From the data, it would seem that the government pay less attention to health care and it is the private sector that takes care of the health services of the people. Since private health providers are more expensive than the government, people living in poverty have less access to health services.

Increased number of slum areas

Tondo district in Manila has the largest area with a density of 69,297 persons per square kilometre (Serrano, 2013). A number of barangays in Tondo are populated by migrants from central and southern islands of the country with high poverty incidence. The Manila Harbor is in this area which explains why this district is thickly populated with people living in poverty who came here by ship. According to the 2006 census, approximately 4 million people or 37% of the total population of Metro Manila live in slum areas. Informal settlers in Metro Manila grew in number from 5.3% to 9.6% from 2000-2006 and these numbers continue to grow. It is projected that informal settlers in Manila will reach 9 million since the city’s attraction is the “promise of livelihood”.

Gender-based violence

According to the Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey (2013), the overall key findings regarding gender issues are:

  • One in five women aged 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15, and 6% experienced physical violence within the 12 months prior to the survey;
  • 6% of women aged 15-49 reported having experienced sexual violence;
  • One-fourth of ever-married women aged 15-49 reported having experienced emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence from their husbands, and 7% reported having experienced physical or sexual violence in the past 12 months.
  • Among ever-married women who experienced physical and/or sexual spousal violence in the 12 months before the survey, 65% reported experiencing some type of injury.
  • Only 30% of women who have experienced any type of physical or sexual violence sought assistance in response to the physical or sexual violence they experienced.
  • 4% of women aged 15-49 reported experiencing violence during pregnancy. (Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey, 2013, pp. 185-207)


  • 18.3 % of women experienced physical violence
  • 5.4 % of women experienced sexual violence
  • 3.8% of women experienced violence during pregnancy
  • 1,144,000 women experienced marital control exercised by husbands (Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey, 2013: pp. 185-207)

Family members who tend to inflict physical violence are women’s stepparents. Acts of  sexual violence are often committed by current or former husbands and for those women who are not married, the oppressors are current or former partners. Women who experience physical violence also experience depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, confusion or feelings of isolation, sustained cuts, bruises or aches, attempted to commit suicide. Women suffer from eye injuries, sprains, dislocation or burns, some lose their jobs or sources of income and have deep wounds, such as broken bones, broken teeth or other serious injuries. Overall, about 62% of women suffer physically, economically, socially, and psychologically. 

In NCR only 32.6% sought the help of health and legal authorities. Others endure their sufferings without reporting them or seeking any type of support.The general trend is that gender-based violence is experienced by women who are less educated. Women from wealthy families are less likely to experience gender-based violence than women living in poverty.

Crime and drug addiction

These are two situations which are always found in daily newspapers and news over the radio, television and the internet. President Duterte’s war on drugs drew attention on the worsening of drug problems and crime. President Duterte promised he will be able to solve drugs-related issues and criminality in six months. However, it is now more than a year into his presidency, and yet, these problems are still felt by almost everyone in the region. This indicates that such problems are grave and difficult to solve.  The confluence of several events and factors has led this situation to its worst. These include widespread smuggling of drugs, lapses in law enforcements, as well as some law enforcers and government officials who were found to be drug traffickers/smugglers. Drugs are sources of funds of some elected officials, of support to smugglers, and many more.

Economic issues

Manila is a land of contrasts. While there are many who are poor and who live in “hand to mouth” existence, the city experiences the surge of wealthy people whose assets have come from trading and business. The newly rich are the Filipino Chinese business tycoons who own malls, airlines, food chains and many more.  While the wealthy live in affluent homes with all the luxuries in life, the poor families live in poverty with makeshift houses or sometimes in parks or streets. While the rich could live even without working, the minimum wage earners have limited workers rights and experience precarity living on a" no work no pay" basis.

In 2010, there were 120,062 immigrants, or residents of a foreign country, who came to the Philippines and 16% percent of them reside in NCR. Also residing in Manila are foreign nationals, and locals from other provinces who also migrate to Manila. Among the locals, Manila is attractive due to perceived presence of available jobs or livelihood which they could not find in the countryside. There are fewer or no available jobs in countryside, especially in some areas prone to natural calamities (e.g.,  Samar, Leyte, and the Bicol Region) , insurgency (e.g.,  some areas in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao, and Cotabato) or pronounced social inequality (e.g., Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Samar, Leyte. Manila has one of the highest tax collection in the country. Yet, it needs more funds to pay for social services and create more jobs. Tax collection is not enough since the population is  increasing everyday.

In NCR, there are 8.2 million who are of age for work but there are only 5.1 million who are economically active and 6% are unemployed. There are about 3 million who are not in the labor force and 64% of these individuals are women (…).

There are several indicators of the mismatch between competencies learned and needed by industries. One indicator is when newly graduates are asked by companies hiring them to have 3-12 months training before they become regular employees. The trainees do not earn regular salaries and they are just given their allowances. Another indicator is when thousands of job seekers go to job fairs and only few hundreds get employment. And the same companies could be found in another job fair in nearby cities which indicates that they were not able to find potential employees in previous job fairs.

Other regionally-specific issues

Other regionally specific issues include human rights violations; the marginalisation of indigenous people; diversity of culture; and weak governance. These are discussed below.

Human rights violations

Extra Judicial Killings (EJKs) are the usual content of daily news in Manila and NCR. Drug suspects do not go through legal processes in terms of arrest and court proceedings. The usual script of the police is that the criminals, when caught or arrested, would fight back using their guns or knives and the arresting officers have no other recourse than to kill the suspected drug pushers or criminals. However, human rights advocates assert that this is a strategy of the police to kill the suspected drug pushers, drug users and criminals. The EJKs remain unsolved and less effort is put into solving these phenomena.

Since police action is needed to solve such issues, public trust on the police has eroded. This could be seen in the the social attitudes survey Social Weather Station Third Quarter 2017 results where 66% of adults in Metro Manila perceive that “many of those killed in the anti-drug campaign did not really fight back.” In addition, the First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey results indicate that, “73% of adult Filipinos are worried that they, or anyone they know, will be a victim of "Extrajudicial Killing or EJK”. In addition, there is also a majority perception that those who are killed are people who live in poverty rather than individuals from wealthy backgrounds (

Marginalization of indigenous peoples

Industrialization in the countryside resulted in the displacement of Indigenous Peoples who live in the mountains or coastal barangays of the country. Filipino capitalists in partnership with foreign businesses have established their agricultural and mining firms in the countryside, leaving the poor and indigenous peoples to look for their means of livelihood. Some migrated to Manila and these are the people who beg and live in public places. Despite the programs of the Department of Social Work and Development designed to target this population, the rates of public begging and homelessness are increasing. 

Diversity of culture that challenges peace and order

Manila is a melting pot of various ethnic groups that come from various parts of the country. Urbanization, a large and dense population, and diverse groups of people have become a challenge to political leaders and law enforcers. Lack of deep understanding of others’ cultures lead to stereotyping and discrimination that results to conflicts.

Weak governance

Criminality, anarchy on the streets and communities, drug problems and corruption are indicators of weak governance. Manila has a number of city ordinances and national laws to prevent crime, traffic, conflict and many more. Yet, these problems happen because law enforcement remains to be wanting.

Organisation and management

The HEIs are administered and regulated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Most the HEIs are headed by a president, who oversees the general functions of the institution, and vice presidents/chancellors/directors who oversee the more specific functions of the HEIs, such as academic, research, extension, production and others. Public universities receive subsidies from the government and, from 2017 onwards, tuition fees for students are free, while the funds of the private universities and colleges come mostly from student fees.

Most HEIs in Manila have similar patterns of organization. Usually, a president serves as the officer in charge of the overall effectiveness and management of the delivery of various programs and services of the institution. Next in rank are vice-presidents/ chancellors whose functions are more specific. For instance, a vice-president could be assigned specific academic, research, and non-academic and administrative functions. For the academic functions, deans and assistant/associate deans oversee that various colleges, while specific programs are headed by a program chair/coordinator. For non-academic functions, there are directors that lead specific offices, such as the HEIs’ community extension programs and services, gender and development, or more specific research functions. Catholic institutions are usually affiliated to a specific order or congregation.

Matters that concern the whole institution are usually handled by the office of the president, and thus, centralised decision-making is exercised. Specific offices are allowed to exercise autonomy in decision-making for matters that particularly concern their offices. The structures of the HEIs are also reflected in the policies i.e., there are university-wide policies, and at the same time, policies that are specific only to certain colleges, programs, or offices. While various programs exercise autonomy, there are instances in which their functions intersect, and thus, various offices may work together. An example of this is the extension or community engagement programs or services of the university to communities. While there is usually an office that is in charge of the HEIs extension programs and services, faculty members or even students are encouraged to propose and own projects. This allows academic offices, student organizations, and the non-academic extensions office to work together.

Main priorities of HEI in the region

Considering the diversity of HEIs in Manila, these institutions vary in their main priorities and specialisations, with some institutions having specific objectives, activity areas, and remits. For instance, the Philippine Normal University, which is the National Centre for Teacher Education, aims to prepare innovative teachers and education leaders through its teacher education and education-related programs. Its research centres on teaching-learning theories and practices, quality assurance, as well as educational policies and standards. Another specialised institution is the Technological University of the Philippines which aims to provide higher and advanced vocational, technical, industrial, technological, and professional education, and training in the industries of technology and practical arts. Mapua Institute of Technology specialises in engineering and technology. The University of the Philippines (UP) Manila is the flagship campus for health and allied sciences of the UP System. It aims to train competent health workers and strengthen health-related research in order to improve the quality of life of Filipinos through national health care programs and policies.

The private-Catholic universities integrate the strengthening of Catholic faith and values into their academic, research, and community extension priorities. For instance, De La Salle University aims to be a leading learner-centred and research university, while at the same time, it bridges scholarship with faith in order to fulfil the Catholic mission of helping the society, especially the poor and marginalised. The same is true for St. Paul University Manila whose mission is to provide integral Catholic education marked by academic excellence, research capabilities, and sustainable community development, as well as to strengthen spirituality, value-innovated programs and services, quality assurance, fraternal relationship building, and good governance and Christian-stewardship. For St. Scholastica’s College, the mission is to build community in Christ with Creation for the country. Besides the specific priorities of HEIs that are in line with the institutions’ specialisation and particular mission, a common priority for most HEIs in the Manila area is the strengthening of their curriculum and instruction, research, and community extension, mostly through programs aimed at alleviating poverty.

Addressing local issues

The plans and goals of all government agencies need to be anchored on Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 that captures “the vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for a matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay (strongly-rooted, comfortable, and secure life) in the next 25 years.” The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 is cascaded to the Regional Development Councils (RDCs) and Manila has one such council. The RDCs are responsible for implementing the national development plan of the government. All plans of public universities are also anchored in the Philippine Development Plan. Private HEIs are encouraged to use the said framework in their plans and programs as well.

Based on the city’s agenda (, the City of Manila aims to address issues in the following areas: (1) peace and order; (2) health; (3) housing/urban settlement; (4) transportation and traffic; (5) cleanliness; (6) education; (7) sports; (8) governance; (9) transparency; and (10) people participation. While it is observed that the programs and projects of the various HEIs somehow align with these agenda (e.g., Philippine Normal University’s programs aiming to train teachers is in line with the education agendum. De La Salle University’s student formation and volunteer development program promotes people participation. University of the Philippines Manila aims to address community health issues.), the partnership between the City Administration and HEIs needs to be strengthened and to be made more deliberate. The City Administration also needs to view HEIs more than merely providers of training and education, but also as partners and service providers in the actual implementation of these programs and projects. Most HEIs in Manila develop their community extension programs in the areas of health, education, sports and governance. In terms of governance, PNU for instance, convened the local community council to plan for their day-to-day operations so that they will be able to meet their goals in the community.   There are also other areas that HEIs are focusing on which include disaster management, business, arts and many others. 


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Metro Manila