A 2018 Study on Metro Manila by Sciences Po Urban School Students

Metropolitan Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) is more than a group of highly-urbanized cities.  With Manila as the capital of the Philippines, it is the place in the country that is most covered by mainstream media. Every corner of this collection of cities breathes—from the sky-high buildings of the more affluent neighborhoods, to the decrepit shanties of “forgotten and shunned” places. As the seat of power, this place feels and sees the oftentimes electric and sometimes clashing views of authorities, the citizens, the stakeholders and the spectators.

Aerial view of Metro Manila in December 2018,
showing the cities of Makati, Taguig, Mandaluyong and Pasig.
Photo Source: Business Mirror.
Above: Jeepneys, the iconic mode of transport in Metro Manila,
and many parts of the Philippines.
Photo Source: Business World.

This is why, it was wonderful to learn that SciencesPo Urban School Students selected Metro Manila as the field of study in 2018 to, as what was stated in the SciencePo site, “grasp the fascinating machinery of this complicated megalopolis” and “explain the nature of governance in Manila.” The research partnership was the result of the collaboration of the Philippine government, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Ateneo de Manila University.

The research consisted of the following parts:

  • Introduction: Fragmented Metropolis: Who Governs Metro Manila?
  • Governance
  • Finance
  • Housing and Development
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Transportation
  • Risk and Resilience
  • Social Exclusion
  • Conclusion

During the paper’s presentation in Paris, a colleague from the Philippine Embassy and I joined the students, the professors and some organizers of the event as part of the audience. At the end of the presentation, I thanked the research group, the professors and the school, and shared some insights about the study. At that time, I recall that the phasing out of the jeepney was a controversial issue so I also mentioned that for the Filipinos, a jeepney is more than just a mode of transportation. I also added some information on the government facilities in relation to housing that was not included in the study, and agreed with one of the main points of the study about the need to constantly improve the country’s capability in disaster risk resilience and disaster management.

The study is interesting and if you’re one who wants to know the pulse of this very lively place, or if you’re a student majoring in urban planning, or simply, if you’re a Filipino wanting to discover more about the Philippines (beyond breathtaking beaches, heavy traffic, “interesting” government leaders), you may read the full text of the research via the links provided below. Some findings mentioned such as Metro Manila’s “historical pivot towards decentralization” and its visible “institutional fragmentation” may be subject to discussions, debates, or further studies. But, it is still worthwhile to spend time reading the research to be familiar with the intricacies of Metro Manila, which are more complex than its interweaving streets and diverse population.

The Report of the Manila Study Trip is Available, SciencesPo Urban School, provides link to the study: Manila 2018 Study Trip Report.

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