Manila - Encyclopedia

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MANILA, the capital city and principal port of the Philippine Islands, situated on the W. coast of the island of Luzon, on the E. shore of Manila Bay, at the mouth of the Pasig river, in lat. 14° 35' 31" N., and in long. 120° 58' 8" E. It is about 4890 m. W.S.W. of Honolulu, 6990 m. W.S.W. of San Francisco, 628 m. S.E. of Hong-Kong, and 1630 m. S. by W. of Yokohama. Pop. (1876), 93,595; (1887), 1 7 6 ,777; (1903), 219928. Of the total population in 1903, 185,351 were of the brown racer. 21,838 were of the yellow race, 7943 were of the white race, and 232 were of the black race (230 of those of this race were foreign-born), and 4564 were of mixed races; of the same total 131,659, or nearly 60% were males. The foreign-born in 1903 numbered 29,491, comprising 21,083 natives of China, 4300 natives of the United States of America, 2065 natives of Spain, and 721 natives of Japan. Nearly all of the brown race were native-born, and 80 6% of them were Tagalogs.

The city covers an area of about 20 sq. m. of low ground,. through which flow the Pasig river and several esteros, or tidewater creeks. To the west is the broad expanse of Manila Bay, beyond which are the rugged Mariveles Mountains; to the eastward the city extends about half-way to Laguna de Bay, a lake nearly as large as Manila Bay and surrounded on three sides by mountains. On the south bank of the Pasig and fronting. the bay for nearly a mile is the " Ancient City," or Intramuros,. enclosed by walls 22 m. long, with a maximum height of 25 ft.,. built about 1590. Formerly a moat flanked the city on theland sides, and a drawbridge at each of six gates was raised every night. But this practice was discontinued in 1852 and the moat was filled with earth in 1905. In the north-west angle of the walled enclosure stands Fort Santiago, which was built at the same time as the walls to defend the entrance to the river; the remaining space is occupied largely by a fine cathedral, churches, convents, schools, and government buildings. Outside the walls the modern city has been formed by the union of several towns whose names are still retained as the names. of districts. The Pasig river is crossed by two modern steel cantilever bridges. Near the north-east angle of Intramuros is the Bridge of Spain, a stone structure across the Pasig, leading to Binondo, the principal shopping and financial district;. here is the Escolta, the most busy thoroughfare of the city, and the Rosario, noted for its Chinese shops. Between Binondo and the bay is San Nicholas, with the United States customhouse and large shipping interests. North of San Nicholas is Tondo, the most densely populated district; in the suburbs, outside the fire limits, the greater part of the inhabitants live in native houses of bamboo frames roofed and sided with nipa palm, and the thoroughfares consist of narrow streets and navigable streams. Paco, south-west of Intramuros, has some large cigar factories, and a large cemetery where the dead are buried in niches in two concentric circular walls. Ermita and Malate along the bay in the south part of the city, San Miguel on the north bank of the river above Intramuros, and Sampaloc farther north, are the more attractive residential districts.

Most of the white inhabitants live in Ermita and Malate, or in San Miguel, where there are several handsome villas along the river front, among them that of the governor-general of the Philippines. The better sort of houses in Manila have two storeys, the lower one built of brick or stone and the upper one of wood, roofed with red Spanish tile or with corrugated iron; the upper storey contains the living-rooms, and the lower has servants' rooms, store-houses, stables, carriage-houses and poultry yards. On account of the warm climate the cornices are wide, the upper storey projects over the lower, and the outer walls are fitted with sliding frames. Translucent oyster shells are a common substitute for glass; and the walls are whitewashed, but on account of the frequency of earthquakes are not plastered. More than one half of the dwellings in the city are mere shacks or nipa huts. Few of the public buildings are attractive or imposing. There are, however, some churches with graceful towers and beautiful facades and a few attractive monuments; among the latter are one standing on the Magellan Plaza (Plaza or Paseo de Magellanes) beside the Pasig, to the memory of Ferdinand Magellan, the discoverer of the islands; and another by A. Querol on the shore of the bay, to the memory of Don Miguel de Legaspi (d. 1572), the founder of the Spanish city, and of Andres de Urdaneta (1498-1568), the Augustinian friar who accompanied Legaspi to Cebu (but not to what is now Manila).

Many improvements have been made in and about the city since the American occupation in 1898. The small tramcars drawn by native ponies have been replaced by a modern American electric street-railway service, and the railway service to and from other towns on the island of Luzon has been extended; in 1908, 267 m. were open to traffic and 400 m. were under construction. Connected with Manila by electric railway is Fort William McKinley, a U.S. army post in the hills five miles away, quartering about 3000 men. The scheme for dredging some of the esteros in order to make them more navigable and for filling in others has been in part executed. But the greatest improvement affecting transportation is the construction of a safe and deep harbour. Although Manila Bay is nearly landlocked, it is so large that in times of strong winds it becomes nearly as turbulent as the open sea, and it was formerly so shallow that vessels drawing more than 16 ft. could approach no nearer than two miles to the shore, where typhoons of the southwest monsoon not infrequently obliged them to lie several days before they could be unloaded. Two long jetties or breakwaters have now been constructed, about 350 acres of harbour area have been dredged to a depth of 30 ft., and two wharves of steel and concrete, one 600 ft. long and 70 ft. wide, and the other 650 ft. long and iBD ft. wide, were in process of construction in 1909. The Pasig river has been dredged up to the Bridge of Spain to a depth of 18 ft. and from the Bridge of Spain to Laguna de Bay to a depth of 6 ft. The construction of the harbour was begun about 1880 by the Spanish government, but the work was less than one-third completed when the Americans took possession. Among other American improvements were: an efficient fire department, a sewer system whereby the sewage by means of pumps is discharged into the bay more than a mile from the shore; a system of gravity waterworks (1908) whereby the city's water supply is taken from the Mariquina river about 23 m. from the city into a storage reservoir which has a capacity of 2,000,000,000 gallons and is 212 ft. above the sea; the extension of the Luneta, the principal pleasure-ground; a boulevard for several miles along the bay; a botanical garden; and new market buildings.

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Manila has a spring and summer hot season, an autumn and winter cooler season, a summer and autumn rainy season, and a winter and spring dry season. For the twenty years1883-1902the annual average of mean monthly temperatures was 26.8° C., the maximum being 27.4° in 1889 and 1897, and the minimum 26.2° in 1884. From May until October the prevailing wind is southeast, from November to January it is north, and from February to April it is east. July and August are the cloudiest months of the year; the average number of rainy days in each of those months being 21, and in February or March only 3. The annual average of rainy days is 138: 94 in the wet season (average precipitation for the six months, 1556.3 mm.) and 44 in the dry season (average precipitation for the six dry months, 382 mm.). Thunderstorms are frequent and occasionally very severe, between May and September; the annual average of thunderstorms for the decennium1888-1897was 505, the greatest frequency was in May (average 100.3) and in June (average 90.7); the severity of these storms may be imagined from the fact that in a half-hour between 5 and 6 p.m. on the 21st of May 1892 the fall (probably the maximum) was 60 mm. The air is very damp: for the period1883-1902the annual average of humidity was 79.4%, the lowest average for any one month was 66.6% in April 1896 (the average for the twenty Aprils was 70.7), and the highest average for any one month was 89.9% for September 1897 (the average for the twenty Septembers was 85.5). The city is so situated as to be affected by shocks from all the various seismological centres of Luzon, especially those from the active volcano Taal, 35 m. south of the city. At the Manila observatory, about 1 m. south-east of the walled city, the number of perceptible earthquakes registered by seismograph between 1880 and 1897 inclusive was 221; the greatest numbers for any one year were 26 in 1882 and 23 in 1892, and the least, 5 in 1896 and 6 in 1889 and in 1894; the average number in each May was 1.44, in each July, 1.33, and in January and in February 0.72; the frequency is much greater in each of the spring summer months (except June, average 0.78) than in the months of autumn and winter.

Public Institutions

The public school system of Manila includes, besides the common schools and Manila high school, the American school, the Philippine normal school (1901), the Philippine school of arts and trades (1901), the Philippine medical school (1907) and the Philippine school of commerce (1908). The Philippine government also maintains here a bureau of science which publishes the monthly Philippine Journal of Science, and co-operates with the Jesuits in maintaining, in Ermita, the Manila observatory (meteorological, seismological and astronomical), which is one of the best equipped institutions of the kind in the East. The royal and pontifical university of St Thomas Aquinas (generally known as the university of Santo Tomas) was founded in 1857 with faculties of theology, law, philosophy, science, medicine and pharmacy, and grew out of a seminary, for the foundation of which Philip II. of Spain gave a grant in 1585, and which opened in 1601; and of the Dominican co l lege of St Thomas, dating from 1611. Other educa tional institutions are the (Dominican) San Jose medical and pharmaceutical college, San Juan de Letran (Dominican), which is a primary and secondary school, the ateneo municipal, a corresponding secondary and primary school under the charge of the Jesuits, and the college of St Isabel, a girls' school. In 1908 there were thirtyfour newspapers and periodicals published in the cit y, of which thirteen were Spanish, fourteen were English, two were Chinese, and five were Tagalog; the principal dailies were the Manila Times, Cablenews American, El Comercio, El Libertas, El Mercantil, El Renacimiento and La Democracia. There are several Spanish hospitals in Manila, in two of which the city's indigent sick are cared for at its expense; in connexion with another a reform school is maintained; and there are a general hospital, built by the government, a government hospital for contagious diseases, a government hospital for government employees, a government hospital for lepers, an army hospital, a free dispensary and hospital supported by American philanthropists, St Paul's hospital (Roman Catholic), University hospital (Protestant Episcopal), and the Mary Johnson hospital (Methodist Episcopal). There are several American Protestant churches in the city, notably a Protestant Episcopal cathedral and training schools for native teachers. In Bibilid prison, in the Santa Cruz district, nearly 80% of the prisoners of the archipelago are confined; it is under the control of the department of public instruction and its inmates are given an opportunity to learn one or more useful trades.

Trade and Industry

Manila is important chiefly for its commerce, and to make it the chief distributing point for American goods consigned to Eastern markets the American government undertook the harbour improvements, and abolished the tonnage dues levied under Spanish rule. Manila is the greatest hemp market in the world; 110 ,399 tons, valued at $19,444,769, were exported from the archipelago in 1906, almost all being shipped from Manila. Other important exports are sugar, copra and tobacco. The imports represent a great variety of food stuffs and manufactured articles. In 1906 the the total value of the exports was $23,902,986 and the total value of the imports was 21,868,257. The coastwise trade is large. The principal manufactures are tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, malt liquors, distilled liquors, cotton fabrics, clothing, ice, lumber, foundry and machine shop products, carriages, waggons, furniture and boots and shoes. There is some ship and boat building. Lumber is sawed by steam power, and cotton mills in the Tondo district are operated by steam. In the foundries and machine shops small engines, boiler§ and church bells are made, and the government maintains an ice and cold-storage plant. With these exceptions manufacturing is in a rather primitive state. Another industry of importance, especially in the district of Tondo, is fishing, and the city's markets are well supplied with many varieties of choice fish.


Manila is governed under a charter enacted in 1901 by the Philippine commission, and amended in 1903. This vests the legislative and administrative authority mainly in a municipal board of five members, of whom three are appointed by the governor of the Philippines by the advice and with the consent of the Philippine commission, and the others are the president of the advisory board and the city engineer. The administration is divided into eight departments: engineering and public works; sewer and waterworks construction; sanitation and transportation; assessments and collections; police, fire, law and schools. There are no elective offices, but there is an advisory board, appointed by the governor and consisting of one member from each of eleven districts; its recommendations the municipal board must seek on all important matters. The administration of justice is vested in a municipal court and in one court under justices of the peace and auxiliary justices; the administration of school affairs is vested in a special board of six members; and matters pertaining to health are administered by the insular bureau of health.


The Spanish city of Manila (named from " nilad," a weed or bush which grew in the locality) was founded by Legaspi in 1571. The site had been previously occupied by a town under a Mahommedan chieftain, but this town had been burned before Legaspi gained possession, although a native settlement still remained, within the present district of Tondo. In 1572, while its fortifications were still slight, the Spanish city was attacked and was nearly captured by a force of Chinese pirates who greatly outnumbered the Spaniards. About 1590 the construction of the present walls and other defences was begun. At the beginning of the 17th century Manila had become the commercial metropolis of the Far East. To it came fleets from China, Japan, India, Malacca and other places in the Far East for an exchange of wares, and from it rich cargoes were sent by way of Mexico to the mother country in exchange for much cheaper goods. Before the close of the century, however, a decline began, from which there was but little recovery under Spanish rule. Several causes contributed to this, among them the waning of the power of Spain, an exclusive commercial policy, dishonest administration, hostilities with the Chinese, ravages of the Malay pirates, and the growth of Dutch commerce. On several occasions the city has been visited with destructive earthquakes; those of 1645 and 1863 were especially disastrous. In 1762, during war between England and Spain, an English force under Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish (d. 1770) and Lieut.-General Sir William Draper (1721-1787) breached the walls and captured the city, but by the Treaty of Paris (1763) it was returned to Spain. In 1837 the port of Manila was opened to foreign trade, and there was a steady but slow increase in prosperity up to about 1890. During this period, however, progress was hampered by vested interests, and the spirit of rebellion among the natives became increasingly threatening. About 1892 a large number of Filipinos in and near Manila formed a secret association whose object was independence and separation from Spain. In August 1896 members of this association began an attack; and late in December the movement was reinforced as a result of the execution in Manila of Dr Jose Rizal y Mercado (1861-1896), a Filipino patriot. It spread to the provinces, and was only in part suppressed when, in April 1898, the United States declared war against Spain. On the 1st of May an American fleet under Commodore George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet stationed in Manila Bay (see Spanish-American War). The smouldering Filipino revolt then broke out afresh and an American army under General Wesley Merritt (1836-) was sent from San Francisco to assist in capturing the city. The Spaniards, after making a rather weak defence, surrendered it on the 13th of August 1898. Trouble now arose between the Americans and the Filipinos under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo, for the latter wished to establish a government of their own. On the night of the 4th of February 1899 the Filipinos attacked the American army which was defending the city, but were repulsed after suffering a heavy loss. A military government, however, was maintained in the city until August 1901.

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