Port of Manila
Review and History

The Port of Manila is the capital city and chief port for the Philippines. It lies on the mouth of the Pasig River in western Luzon Island and stretches along Manila Bay's eastern shores. The Port of Manila is about 645 nautical miles southeast of the Port of Hong Kong and about 880 nautical miles east-northeast of Saigon Port. The Port of Manila is also the country's main economic, cultural, and political center. Metropolitan Manila contains 17 cities and municipalities, including the Port of Manila. One of the world's most densely populated cities, the Port of Manila was home to almost 1.6 million people in 2000, but the metropolitan area had a populating of over 9.9 million souls.

The Port of Manila has a diverse economy. In addition to housing the Philippines' major seaport, it is an important center for publishing and manufacturing. Products manufactured in the Port of Manila include textiles, chemicals, clothing, electronics, watches, leather goods, shoes, and iron and steel. Local businesses process commodities for export, including plywood, rope, refined sugar, coconut oil, and copra. The food, beverages, and tobacco sectors employ many of the city's residents.

With more than a million visitors each year, tourism is a thriving and important economic sector in the Port of Manila. Except for the Port of Manila, every district in the city has its own public market where local commerce is busy, particularly in the early morning. The urban renewal program includes refurbishing some of these markets. The Port of Manila also has plenty of modern shopping malls and chain stores.

Port History

Called Seludong or Sleurung under the Malay aristocracy, historians believe that the future Port of Manila was the capital of the Ancient Tondo. With busy trade relations with China, the kingdom flourished during China's latter Ming Dynasty. The local Tondo rulers had the status of kings, rather than chieftains. The Namayan, a confederation of barangays, began to peak in the late 12th Century, and their territory stretched from Manila Bay to Laguna de Bay. Their capital in Sapa is called Santa Ana today.

The Port of Manila pre-dates the Spanish invasion of the Philippine islands. Going back as early as the 9th Century, the Port of Manila had trade relations with China, Japan, India, and modern Malaysia and Indonesia. The Port of Manila traded often with Arab merchants, even after Spanish rule, although the Spanish Port of Manila most often traded with Mexico, Spain, and China.

Built atop older towns, the Port of Manila was well fortified with a trading quarter on the Pasig River in the 13th Century. In the late 15th and early 16th Centuries, the Kingdom of Tondo's was attacked by the Sultanate of Brunei in an attempt to break the Port of Manila's trade with China. Under the Salalila, a new dynasty arose to challenge the Tondo rulers.

In the middle of the 16th Century, the area of today's Port of Manila belonged to the maritime Muslim Rajahs. Rajah Lakandula reigned over the Tondo, Hundu-Buddhist communities north of the Pasig River. Muslim communities south of the river united into the Kingdom of Maynila. The Malay-speaking city-states had diplomatic ties with the Bolkiah Dynasty of Brunei (today's Borneo).

Portuguese pirates drove the Spanish Governor General, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi , from Cebu Island to Panay Island in the late 1560s. Hearing rumors of great wealth in Luzon, the governor sent an expedition to Luzon to the south of Manila Bay. His envoys sent messages of friendship to Maynila. While Rajah Sulayman would accept friendship, he would not submit to Spanish rule, and he went to war against the Spaniards. In 1570, Spanish forces attacked Maynila, capturing the city.

With the Kingdom of Maynila under assault, the remaining Rajah Matanda formed an alliance with the Lakandula of Tondo in 1571. However, powerful city-states began to challenge the long-standing rule of the Tondo and the Maynila. In the early 1570s, Governor Legazpi led the full force of Spanish troops as they returned to the island. When the natives saw them coming, they burned the city and escaped to Tondo.

The Spanish took what was left of Maynila and established a settlement. In 1571, Legazpi titled the Colony of Manila a city, and the Spanish crown affirmed the status in 1572. The Port of Manila became a colonial trading post for the Spanish. A Viceroyalty of New Spain was established that governed the Philippines, and the Governor-General ruled from Port of Manila but was subordinate to the Viceroy in Mexico City. From 1571 until 1815, the galleon trade route between the Philippines and Mexico flourished, and the Port of Manila became famous.

The Chinese population in the Port of Manila was subjected to Spanish commercial laws and restrictions, and they had to pay tribute to Spanish officials. In 1574, 62 Chinese warships and some three thousand men attacked the Port of Manila in rebellion against the Spanish. They were easily defeated. In order to prevent future rebellions, the Spanish made Chinese merchants and residents move into a separate district.

In 1591, Governor-General Legazpi began building a fort at the Port of Manila and began to court Rajah Lakandula of Tondo. The Rajah was eventually converted to Christianity, and local nobles sold their loyalty to the Spanish for privileges and titles. Soon, Augustinian monks came to the Port of Manila to spread Roman Catholicism , and they were followed by Franciscans , Dominicans , and Jesuits in the later centuries.

In 1595, the Port of Manila was named the official capital of the Philippines, and a municipal government was established with a Spanish-style community called Intramuros within fortified walls. Today, it is the oldest district in the modern Port of Manila.

During the 17th Century, the Chinese again revolted against the Spanish several times. They even threatened to capture Intramuros. In the middle 17th Century, a conspiracy arose to kill all the Spaniards in the Port of Manila, ending in the eviction of the Chinese form the city and country. However, the Chinese community continued to exist over the following years.

The British occupied the Port of Manila for two years in the early 1760s during the Seven Years' War between France and Britain. Fleeing from the British, the Spaniards destroyed many valuable historic documents. Even though the British occupied the Port of Manila, it continued to be the capital of the Philippines under a provisional British governor. The Philippines were returned to the Spanish Crown, by omission, under the provisions of the Peace of Paris signed in 1763.

By the middle of the 19th Century, the Port of Manila was opened to trade with all foreign ports. In the late 19th Century, the Port of Manila became a hotbed of anti-Spanish sentiment and propaganda. In 1886 a novel by Jose Rizal planted the seeds of revolution. Although the author was exiled to Dapitan , organizations were formed with the goal of ending Spanish rule. Open rebellion broke out in 1896. Rizal was made a martyr to the revolution when the Spanish executed him by firing squad. After months of fighting, a revolutionary government was formed, but it did not survive.

During the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War , troops from the United States invaded the Port of Manila in 1898. Spain was defeated, and the United States took control of the Port of Manila and the Philippine islands in a brutal assault. Under Admiral George Dewey , the American Navy defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Manila Bay. Spain transferred the islands and the Port of Manila to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris , ending over three centuries of Spanish rule.

The Filipinos did not want to accept rule by the United States, having just won independence from Spain. Emilio Aguinaldo declared the First Philippine Republic , but the United States did not recognize the new republic. War broke out in 1899 between the Filipinos and the Americans. In 1901, General Aguinaldo surrendered. The Americans immediately invaded and occupied the islands and the Port of Manila.

The Filipinos continued to resist US control and undertook a guerrilla resistance with limited success. General Douglas MacArthur was brought in to suppress the rebellion. Rumors of brutality and bloody suppression by the Americans continue today.

In 1901, a civil government was established for the Port of Manila. The Philippine-American War continued until 1903, with many Port of Manila lives lost. In 1935, the US government agreed to grant Philippine Independence after a 10-year period that was extended by one year due to World War II.

In December 1941, the Port of Manila was declared an open city, and American troops were ordered to withdraw from the city in hopes of sparing the Port of Manila destruction at the hands of the invading Japanese. The Japanese bombed the Port of Manila nonetheless. On January 2, 1942, the Japanese Imperial army marched into the Port of Manila. The Japanese gave the Port of Manila leaders three choices as to how they would be governed. They chose government by commission selected by Filipinos and established the Philippine Executive Commission that would manage greater Manila; however, this was later extended to the whole Philippines.

In October 1944, General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise to return to the Philippines. After a terrible battle at the Port of Manila's Intramuros district, a devastated Port of Manila was liberated by American and Filipino troops. However, they did not arrive in the Port of Manila soon enough to stop the Manila Massacre . The city was nearly destroyed, having received more damage than any other city during World War II except for Warsaw . On July 4, 1946, the Philippine flag was raised for the first time ever in Rizal Park.

From 1972 until 1981, the Port of Manila and the country were under Martial Law declared by President Ferdinand Marcos . During his rule, the local economy disintegrated, and corruption was rampant. Tens of thousands of Filipinos disappeared or were imprisoned if they opposed Marcos' martial law. When he was deposed in 1986, claimants against Marcos were awarded over US$500 million in compensation.

When opposition leader Benigno Aquino arrived in the Port of Manila in 1983, he was killed as he de-boarded the airplane. The people of the Philippines increasingly opposed the rule of Ferdinand Marcos. When the People Power Revolution succeeded in 1986, Aquino's widow, Corazon , was installed as president, and she survived six unsuccessful coup attempts. Since the early 1990s, the Port of Manila's mayors have worked hard to fight crime, provide education, improve social welfare, and marshal urban renewal projects.

In the early 1970s, there were almost 600 national and municipal ports and 200 private ports scattered throughout the Philippine islands. The Bureau of Public Works was responsible for maintaining ports and harbors, but the need for coordination and long-range planning was overwhelming. The Bureau of Customs proposed a new government agency to integrate port operations and development, and the World Bank made creation of a port authority a condition of a 1973 port development loan.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) was created by Presidential Decree in late 1975 to plan, develop, finance, operate, and maintain ports and port districts for the nation. A National Ports Advisory Council was created to facilitate cooperation between government and private interests. In 1987, the PPA was given financial autonomy and the additional responsibility for construction port facilities.

Review and History    Port Commerce    Cruising and Travel    Satellite Map    Contact Information