With more than twelve million inhabitants, Manila’s metropolitan area forms the cultural, political, and commercial center of the Philippines. Moving to Manila is an increasingly attractive option for expatriates who seek to relocate to the Philippines, and not just for the sunshine; Manila offers plenty of career opportunities too. At the same time, however, the city is often written off as a mere collection of towns and settlements with no traditional center. Nevertheless, moving to Manila remains the preferred choice for expats who thrive in the hustle and bustle of urban life.
When the Spanish first arrived in Manila in 1571, the city was still just a small Muslim settlement. After numerous clashes and battles, the Spanish seized control of the settlement and defended it against other invaders in subsequent centuries. The Spanish rule brought with it Roman Catholic influences, as convents, churches, and schools were built. To this day, the Philippines are the only Asian country in which Christianity is the dominant religion.
In the 19th century, resistance against the Spanish occupation stirred among the Filipino population. Although the Filipino revolution failed, the Spanish-American war eventually ended the Spanish rule, and in 1935, after several decades under US authority, the Philippines finally became independent. With World War Two and three years of Japanese occupation behind them, the Filipinos celebrated by raising the Philippine flag in Manila’s Rizal Park in 1946.
The streets of metro Manila are buzzing with jeepneys and street vendors, and expats moving to Manila will have little trouble finding air-conditioned shopping malls and office buildings. After your move to Manila, you will not only experience the urban flair of the metropolitan area, but also its excellent connections to the rest of the Philippine archipelago. The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the first stop for many expats, handles flights from more than 25 international airlines along with some charter flights.
Upon moving to Manila, you will quickly become acclimated to the many facets of life in the Philippines. Once you’ve experienced the Philippines’ most important landmarks and government buildings, you can enjoy horse-drawn carriages or hitch a ride on one of the colorful jeepneys to get around town. You will soon find that here, modern concrete and glass towers reach for the sky right next to colonial houses and impressive mansions. Nowhere else in the Philippines is the country’s eventful history as visible as in metro Manila.
Expatriates moving to Manila can choose to settle down in one of the 17 municipalities of the city. Manilla’s neighborhoods range from historical Intramuros to Makati with its upscale business centers and the shantytowns of Tondo. Intramuros is an old walled settlement first built by the Spanish. Although heavily damaged in World War II, it has been restored into the city’s most significant cultural and historical focal point. South of Intramuros lies the city’s north-south center, Rizal Park.
To Rizal Park’s south, you will find the city’s new tourist belt, Ermita and Malate. These neighborhoods used to be home to middle and upper classes before the hotels, restaurants, and nightlife began to attract oodles of tourists. Makati, Manila’s business center with offices, embassies, and shopping centers, has also become the residential area of choice for many an expat moving to Manila. You might, of course, also decide to move to Quezon City. This district is home to the University of the Philippines and has a variety of elegant residential neighborhoods for expats moving to Manila. The shanty town Tondo, near Tayuman train station, stands in stark contrast to Makati and Quezon City. Here, many people live in poor conditions.
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