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Guide to the City of Manila’s neighborhoods by Nivelle DumlaoPublished: June 28, 2016Updated: July 4, 2016

A place rich in history and culture, the City of Manila has a great blend of both tradition and modernity

Manila City skyline along Roxas Boulevard (Photo from flickr: Arnel Genterone)


Rich in history and culture, the City of Manila once again became capital of the Philippines in 1976, replacing Quezon City (which became capital from 1948 to 1976). It has a story to tell in all of its corners about the history of the country, while still keeping up with the modern times with the boom of commercial, residential, and office properties.

The ancestral structures and houses reflecting the eras of the past have become a magnet for tourists, which contributed to Metro Manila’s tourism industry. Although some of these structures have been either demolished or destroyed through the years, the city and its people are trying to restore what was left of Manila’s history to continue reminding the people of the sacrifices our heroes made to achieve freedom.

Here at MyProperty, we take a look at the some of Manila’s famous districts.



Rizal Park at Malate (Photo from flickr: Melanie Wynne)

Founded in the late 16th century, the name Ermita came from the Spanish La Hermita, which means “the hermitage” or a place of religious seclusion. During that time, a hermitage was built to house the image of Our Lady of Guidance, and the structure is now known as the Ermita Church.

Ermita is known popular for being one of Metro Manila’s university districts. It houses numerous institutions for high education, including the University of Manila, University of the Philippines Manila, Technological University of the Philippines, Philippine Normal University, and Adamson University, among others.

It is also home to several local and foreign government institutions, such as the Supreme Court of the Philippines, Court of Appeals, Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, and Embassy of the United States of America. The famous Rizal Park and Manila Ocean Park are located there as well.

Because it is such a bustling area, property developers have key real estate developments in Ermita, including Eton Properties’ 49-story 8 Adriatico located at the corner of Padre Faura and Bocobo Streets; Anchor Land’s 33-story Mayfair Tower; and DMCI Homes’ now infamous 46-story Torre de Manila located along Taft Avenue and visible behind the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park.

Ermita can be accessed through major roads, namely Taft Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, and United Stations Avenue. The LRT-1 has three stops in the district: Pedro Gil, United Nations, and the Central Terminal Stations.




Another popular Manila district is Malate. It is home to several government offices, such as the Department of Finance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Navy headquarters, and the Bureau of Plant Industry headquarters.

Malate is also known to be a place of recreation as it is home to the country’s first enclosed modern mall (Harrison Plaza) and the first sports stadium (Rizal Memorial Sports Complex). The district also houses the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden, Rajah Sulayman Park (which fronts Manila Bay), Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and a few public stadiums. Likewise, it is also the site of two of the cities’ prominent churches Malate Church and San Antonio de Padua Parish; universities De La Salle University, Philippine Women’s University, and St. Paul University, and Ospital ng Maynila.

Founded by expatriates and some of the old Spanish mestizo families in the early 1900s, Malate was and still is a place of high-rise residences. Property developers have contributed to its residential history, such as SMDC’s 42-story Green Residences, the 53-story residential condominium Admiral Baysuites by Anchor Land, Vito Cruz Towers by CityLand Development Corporation, and Victoria de Manila by The New San Jose Builders, Inc. Due to the high number of universities in and around the area, Malate also has several student-focused developments, such as W.H. Taft Residences by Double Dragon Properties.

Malate can be directly accessed through the main roads of Taft Avenue, Quirino Avenue, and Roxas Boulevard. There are also three LRT-1 stations located in Malate: Vito Cruz, Quirino, and Pedro Gil.



Formerly an enclave of the Japanese in the late 1500s, Paco was once regarded as the Japan-town of Manila. To commemorate the early Japanese community, a park name Plaza Dilao was built along Quirino Avenue.

One of the district’s most well-known attractions is Paco Park, an old cemetery housing the Spanish-era chapel Saint Pancratius where the remains of Rizal and the GomBurZa were kept before they were transferred to Fort Santiago. Malacañang Park, another famous tourist stop, can be found across the Malacañang Palace by Pasig River. A busy market along Pedro Gil is only a few minutes away from Paco Catholic School. La Concordia College is located in Paco as well.

Like many neighboring districts, Paco is starting to be a popular place for residential towers. Avida Land built one with 29 stories along Quirino Avenue Extension named Avida Towers Intima. Also located along Quirino Avenue, Federal Land’s Peninsula Garden Midtown Homes is a residential community consisting of eight towers. In addition to these homes, the Paco Station of the Philippine National Railway (PNR) is also along the said avenue, while the Unilever Philippines corporate office is located along UN Avenue.


Santa Ana

Santa Ana is considered as Manila’s heritage district because of its numerous historical locations and structures, such as ancestral houses built during the Spanish era, the Our Lady of the Abandoned Church (also known as Santa Ana Church), and Plaza Hugo. The district has also been declared as a “histo-cultural heritage/overlay zone,” being home to many ancestral houses and pre-Hispanic period artifacts that date more than a thousand years ago.

Aside from the famous Our Lady of the Abandoned Church, which celebrates its feast day every May 12, there are several other religious sites in Santa Ana. A Taoist temple dedicated to esteemed Chinese historical figure Pao Ong Hu can be found behind Santa Ana Church. Felix Manalo, founder of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), had the first-ever temple of INC built in Punta, Santa Ana, but it has since been transformed into a museum preserving the religion’s history.

Being the only area that was spared from destruction during World War II, it is quite common to see antique residential houses standing beside high-rise condos in Santa Ana. CDC Holdings, for instance, is building two residential communities, namely the Rivergreen Residences and Manila River City Residences. The former is situated along Pedro Gil Street and has two towers with 30 stories each, while the latter consists of nine towers with nine to 20 stories each. Currently in the making is Suntrust’s Ascentia at New Panaderos Street, which will have three towers with 23 floors.

The Pasig River cuts through Santa Ana and has two ferry terminals named Santa Ana Ferry Terminal and Lambingan Ferry Terminals. Ferries from these terminals can bring passengers to Intramuros and Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City.



The 7.9-square-kilometer area of Sampaloc has a lot of reasons to be well-known and highly populated. First, Sampaloc has a cluster of tertiary-education institutions called University Belt (U-Belt). Among these schools are University of Santo Tomas (UST), the oldest existing university in Asia; University of the East; and Far Eastern University. Second, it houses Dangwa Flower Market, the go-to place of those who want to buy fresh flowers for a good price, especially for weddings and Valentine’s Day. Third, Sampaloc is where a hub for major national bus carriers is, such as Victory Liner, GV Florida Transport, and Fariñas Transit Company.

As Sampaloc is full of activities, there are a lot of available residences for rent or for sale, such as apartments, condos, and dorms for the students of the universities along the U-Belt. Some of the residential towers and condo dorms include Manila-Sorrel Residences by DMCI Homes, a 25-story condo located at Sociego Street; Federation Properties’ Torre de Sto. Tomas, a 48-story mixed-used residential tower situated a few steps away from UST; and the University Tower by Prince Jun Development Corporation at P. Noval Street, a 48-story student condominium located a few minutes away from U-Belt.

Sampaloc, named as such because of the abundance of sampaloc (tamarind) trees, have numerous thoroughfares and train stations. The Laong Laan and España PNR stations are located within the district, as are the LRT-1 Blumentritt Station and LRT-2 Legarda Station.



The inside of Intramuros (Photo from

Earning its name from the Spanish term meaning “inside the walls,” Intramuros, declared as a National Historical Monument, holds Manila’s historic core. This fortress guarded by Fort Bonifacio saw plenty of destruction from the attempted foreign invasions during the Spanish colonial period to the battles of World War II. It finally received its orderly restoration and development with the help of the Intramuros Administration, which was established in 1979.

Today, the walled city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Manila and is considered part of the tourism enterprise zone, along with Rizal Park. Aside from the restored actual walls and buildings, Intramuros also has museums depicting the Spanish era, the UNESCO World Heritage Site San Agustin Church, the Club Intramuros Golf Course, Colegio San Juan de Letran, the Manila Cathedral, and Manila Bulletin headquarters.

Tourists can go around Intramuros using a kalesa, a horse-carriage popularly used in the area. These traditional vehicles can also bring you to other tourist destinations nearby like Binondo, Ermita, and Rizal Park.



Chinatown in Binondo (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Known as the site of the oldest Chinatown in the world, Binondo was established when a Spanish governor ordered all of the Chinese immigrants to permanently reside there to be watched closely. It then became the center of trade and commerce, as the local Chinese population grew by marrying Filipino women while keeping their businesses alive. Before World War II, the district’s Escolta Street was Manila’s center of banking and financial services. However, after it was heavily destroyed during the war, some of the companies left Escolta and transferred to other places, such as Makati City.

Today, many of Binondo’s Filipino-Chinese residents run a whole gamut of businesses. The district is flocked daily by shoppers in search for good discounts. They frequent shopping havens like 168 Mall and 999 Mall, although there are also newer shopping malls in the area, such as Megaworld Corporation’s Lucky Chinatown Mall.

Binondo is also known for some of the best Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila, especially those found along the famous Ongpin Street. Located along Plaza L. Ruiz, the Binondo Church has been around since the Spanish era, and was a witness to the wedding of Andres Bonifacio, who later on became a hero of the Philippine Revolution.

The City of Manila is currently converting part of Binondo, especially Escolta Street, into a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub. There are already 30 buildings selected for conversion into office buildings, which stand alongside some of the neoclassical and Beaux-Arts architectural structures built from the 1920s to 1930s.

Furthermore, residential skyscrapers are already starting to change Binondo’s skyline. Megaworld Corporation is constructing a residential tower atop their Lucky Chinatown Mall, and another 47-story tower named Noble Place at the corner of Dasmariñas and Juan Luna Streets. Anchor Land also offers Princeview Parksuites, a 39-story residential tower at Quintin Paredes Street.



Quiapo Church (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Millions of devotees gather at Quiapo Church every January to celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene, which is said to be miraculous, through a procession that goes around Quiapo and its surrounding areas. Plaza Miranda, the town square in front of Quiapo Church, is where political rallies are often held.

Aside from having a large population of Catholic devotees, Quiapo is also one of the most Muslim-populated areas in the metro and has two mosques. Masjid Al-Dahab, more commonly known as the Manila Golden Mosque, is the largest mosque in Metro Manila. The other one is called the Green Mosque.

Quiapo is also known for the numerous fortune-tellers sitting around Plaza Miranda, as well as the rows of stores that offer herbal products for ailments and other purposes. Also considered as an “old downtown,” Quiapo is a haven for thrift shoppers as there are plenty of tiangges, boutique shops, and music and electronics stores. Hidalgo Street in particular has many stores that cater to photographers and photography enthusiasts alike, while Paterno Street is where you can find cheap and branded eyeglass frames.

There are a number of colleges and universities found in Quiapo, including San Sebastian College, Manuel L. Quezon University, National Teachers College, Technological Institute of the Philippines, and Philippine College of Criminology. Because of the numerous educational institutions, dormitories and condominiums are common. Vista Land built two residential buildings to cater to students and their families: 36-story Vista Recto is located along C.M. Recto Avenue, while eight-story Vista Heights Residences is located at the corner of Nepomuceno and C. Aguila Streets.

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