International City Profile: Manilla

Research Question: What are the struggles with the distribution and lack of land and the effect it has on the population?

Sub Questions:

-Are there any possible solutions to this problem?

-How the distribution of land are affection the people in the community (specifically focusing on the poorer side of the?

-What kind of effect does the population have on land distribution?

Background and overview:

Manilla is rated the city with the highest population density in the world with its population density being 42, 857 people per square kilometre and a total population of 1,652,171 (citation). The population of Manilla was that of a fast growing one. Many of Manila's citizens are forced to live in make shift homes built out of scrap and recycled materials, and these areas are prone to natural disaster. One of the major problems in Manila is that it is sinking, due to over-pumping of ground water from Manila's rapidly increasing population and global warming only adds to this problem. Land is being occupied by water. The product of Manila's waters rising and flooding and Manila's rapidly growing population, Manila is left in a state of distress and panic.

There is a huge inequality in income in the Philippines.  In a statement by the National Statistical Coordination Board in 2005, the income gap between the rich and the poor were wider than Indonesia and Thailand (CITE). The income of  the richest 10% of the population was 20 times the income of the poorest 10% (CITE).

Qualitative Data:

BBC Video: "Do we have to learn to live with slums?"

The above video showcases one of the slums in Manila: Estero de San Miguel. Paul Mason, a former economics editor talks to the people living in the slums and finds out that the people living in the slums are trapped. A woman forced to sleep on the floor everyday sharing a tiny room with five other says she has been living like that for 20 years. In the video, Mason comments on the conditions of the slums saying "its like seeing the worst of 18th century Europe" and then questions "why does this survive along skyscrapers?" I think his question really highlights the gap between the rich and the poor in Manila. Later on in the video, Mason meets Jena Lopez who is on a mission to clear the dirty sewage smelling water of Manila's slums and revive the rivers. She shows him an example of a "solution" to slums and takes him to see where the government have relocated the "slum dwellers to". Population density is not a problem with the houses that are set up for the slum dwellers however, the government didn't consider electricity and most notably: Jobs. Since the places they were relocated to away from the jobs offer no source of income, people go back to Manila to look for work. The Philippine government are determined to get rid of the slums despite their solution to remove the people. For people living in the slums, the don't want it removed because the slums are all they know. The video shows that slums is actually a functioning community despite the poor living conditions and the people living in the slums do whatever they can to make it liveable (in this case Estero de San Miguel has its own police force of 20, a convenience store, computer store and college graduates who live there.)

A blog post on: Smokey mountain

The blog post written by someone with an online handle: Sab and says this in the beginning of their post: "Smokey Mountain is a world you'd rather don't want to see. In Manila's largest dumpsite the poorest of the poor are making their livelihood by picking up garbage" (CITE). Smoke tours (link) is a tour service that begun in 2011 when a "photo walk" was done to showcase the slums of Manila. From that the idea of having a tour through smokey mountain. They offer tours through slums in Manila. In the blog post, Sab says that they felt very guilty on the tour despite being invited and going, personally I can't say that I agree with the display of the slums in such away as Sab describes the slums in that sense as a "human zoo". Smokey mountain is essentially a 50 meter tall mountain of  garbage with 2 million tons of waste. "The smokey" part of the name comes from the fact that the residents there are always burning tires and wood, making the air heavily polluted. Every morning, the garbage trucks come and drop of garbage. The people living there rush to the garbage truck scavenging for whatever they can get. Its hard to believe that in such a modern day and age, this kind of thing still exists, especially in a country that has such a large growing economy and is relatively wealthy.

Quantitive Data:

I sent out a survey to people in our year asking questions such as "On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), what do you think of the conditions of slums in Manila" and then later asked questions trying to get a census of opinion from the year group such as "What do you think about the fact that in a city where there are tall skyscrapers there is also a huge majority of the population living in slums with poor living conditions?"

From the results shown above, people thought the conditions in the slums in an extremely bad condition, with all of the results rated 9 and 10. The results for the second question was a bit more varied. 3 people said that people living in slums or similar areas will possible lead a better life in the future however 2 said no. In the next section of the interview I followed up on the 2 who said no and why they believed that. In general, from the results I gathered a lot of people thought that the conditions are certainly unbearable.

Follow up questions:

"What do you think about the fact that in a city where there are tall skyscrapers there is also a huge majority of the population living in slums with poor living conditions?"

-It's something that I don't really understand, it doesn't make much sense to me

-It just reflects there is a wealth gap in Manila

-Its unfortunate to see the divide between the rich and the poor in Manila, in this case there isn't a huge effort to support those living in poor areas such as slums.

(For the people who said no for the second question) "What makes you say that there isn't any evidence that people living in slums or similar areas will lead to a better life in the future?"

-I think its just that there are things that even with the efforts of the government, it's going to be a long long time until there are viable solutions to solve this kind of issue. For the time being I believe that there isn't any evidence because as you mentioned to me, there already have been efforts by the government to move people living in slums to lesser densely populated areas however, despite the initiative, people are still moving back because A. They only really know how to live the life in the slum and there are established communities setup in slums and B. There is no jobs available for the people and the lack of income is not going to keep them alive in the relocated areas.

-I said no because I think that there is no proper support from the government and their efforts are not good enough to see people living in slums and similar areas to leading better lives.

Explanation and analysis:

The results gathered from the follow up (especially the results from the people who said no to the second question) show that people believe that the wealth gap is one of the factors as to why there are so many people living in slum in Manila (as well as contributions from lack of land due to flooding) and that the government solution to get rid of the slums in Manila is met with opposition since there is no viable solution for housing for the people living in slums and some people care for the slums they have lived in their whole life.

A lack of space is one of the main roots to the problem that is poverty in Manila. As mentioned previously, Manila is the most densely populated cities in the world and also has a huge income inequality between the rich and the poor in Manila. Around a third of Manila's population is living in areas like slums and many of these slums are exposed to natural disaster. There are a lot of mixed feelings about getting rid of the slums in Manila, however regardless of if slum dwellers want the slums to stay as it is or the government wants all slums to be rid of, the slums are not safe for living. The rivers that run through the slums are extremely dirty and there are many health hazards that cause a lot of disease and death.

Looking into the future:

In there future, I'm hoping there will me more efforts to improve the living standards for people who live in the slums. I think that there are two good starts to a solution to improving life in slums. One would be more government support in the relocation of the slum dwellers, there should be more jobs for people (as currently there are none available causing people to move back to cities) and infrastructure to make communities. The other solution would be Jena Lopez's approach, to improve the life in slums by clearing water and possible rebuilding houses so they are safe from natural disaster.


Works Cited

"Dirty Water in Slums of Manila Bay." Flickr. Yahoo!, n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."Home." RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."Income Inequality in the Philippines." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."List of Cities Proper by Population Density." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."Overpopulated, Metro Manila Is Sinking —and Flooding— Fast." GMA News Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."Real Lives." UNICEF Philippines. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."17 Most Densely Populated Places on Earth." KickassFactscom. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 May 2015. <>."SMOKEY MOUNTAIN: A WALK THROUGH THE SLUMS OF MANILA, PHILIPPINES." Smokey Mountain. N.p., 11 May 2014. Web. 24 May 2015. <>.

Comment Stream