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Manila at a Glance

Living in Manila

Living in Manila is a dream for many expats who hope to settle down in the Philippines. After all, life in Manila, the country’s culture and business hub, is as diverse as it is exciting. Read our guide on Manila and find out more about healthcare and transportation in the Philippine capital.


Dear readers,

Fortunately, the capital region was mostly spared from Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, which caused catastrophic damage in the Eastern Visayas region in November 2013. Therefore most of the factual information in the Manila guide should still be accurate. However, if you are also planning to read our articles on the Philippines in general, please take the respective disclaimer into account. Thank you for your understanding!

InterNations Editorial Office

Religion in Manila

Of all people living in Manila, more than 90% are Roman Catholic. The strong influence of the Christian faith in the city dates back to the Spanish rule. This is also reflected in the fact that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila is the biggest in the entire country, with offices located at the Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception.

As you can imagine, living in Manila as a devout Catholic is rather easy. The city is home to an abundance of churches, including the San Augustin Church in Intramuros, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also a favorite wedding choice. The city is also home to other faiths, of course. Buddhist and Taoist temples can be found all over the city and particularly in Chinatown. Mosques, Hindu temples, and Sikh temples are available as well.

Cultural Events and Museums

The city is also a major hub for cultural events and home to a number of museums. For instance, millions of devotees come to Manila each year to celebrate the Feast of Black Nazarene. In addition, Manila Day is observed each year on June 24th, with each district throwing its own fiesta.

But Manila also serves as the country’s cultural center. Bahay Tsinoy, one of the city’s most important museums shows documentations of Chinese influences on life in Manila. The Intramuros Light and Sound Museum on the other hand chronicles life during the revolution, and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila is the place to go if you wish to learn more about Filipino arts and culture.


When getting ready for living in Manila, you should take some time to arrange for sufficient healthcare coverage. As amazing as life in Manila may be, the out-of-pocket spending on medical services has gone up significantly in recent years, while government spending was in decline. By now, people living in Manila pay half of their medical costs themselves.

Healthcare coverage is rather low with only 40% of the population being covered. However, public healthcare coverage does not automatically guarantee financial protection or access to high quality medical services. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) which is responsible for public healthcare offers only limited benefits. The medical costs covered by the PHIC haven’t increased much since 1995 and more often than not patients end up covering the remaining expenses.

Doctors and Hospitals in Manila

Unlike people in some other corners of the archipelago, expats living in Manila benefit from well-equipped, high-quality hospitals and medical centers. Most of the city’s hospitals require a down payment from you when you are admitted. At the same time, you will be asked to pay your medical bills before you leave. You can turn in the bills with your health insurance company at a later point for reimbursement. Make sure to inquire with your insurance provider beforehand to find out if they will cover all healthcare costs. The most popular hospitals among expats are:

Health Risks and Safety

Although Manila is a relatively modern and well-developed city, you should always keep in mind that in South-East Asia you are constantly subjected to different infectious diseases. Food- and water-borne diseases (bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever) and mosquito-borne diseases (dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis) are unfortunately quite common. Luckily, mosquito-borne diseases are largely prevalent in endemic areas of the country.

Aside from common diseases, the Philippines are prone to natural hazards. Typhoons and other weather conditions are a common threat in the country. Manila frequently suffers from extreme flooding, for instance. Fortunately, it was spared from the catastrophic typhoon damage in November 2013, but several tropical cyclones do hit the country every year.

The Philippines is in fact at the top of the list of countries shaken by natural disasters. That is why you should make sure to always stay safe and sound and to take the necessary precautions. For example, don't forget to register with your embassy! In the event of a storm or flood, it may thus be easier for you to get assistance. 

InterNations Expat Magazine