Segregation has a long history in Metro Manila. As a Spanish enclave
during the Spanish colonial period, native inhabitants lived in
the suburbs of what are now the districts of Tondo, Sta Cruz, Quiapo
and Sampaloc. The Chinese lived in the parian, a district
that became part of the present Binondo.
Slums are now scattered over 526 communities in all cities and municipalities
of Metro Manila, housing 2.5 million people on vacant private or
public lands, usually along rivers, near garbage dumps, along railroad
tracks, under bridges and beside industrial establishments. Slums
alongside mansions in affluent residential areas are also not uncommon.
Although there are relatively large slum communities, the settlement
pattern of the Metro Manila urban poor is generally dispersed, located
wherever there is space and opportunity.
Slums are defined as buildings or areas that are deteriorated, hazardous,
unsanitary or lacking in standard conveniences. These are also defined
as the squalid, crowded or unsanitary conditions under which people
live, irrespective of the physical state of the building or area.
Under such definitions, slum dwellers are identified as the urban
poor: individuals or families residing in urban and urbanizable
areas whose income or combined household income falls below the
Slums cannot be clearly classified by location as they are so dispersed
over Metro Manila; but they can broadly be classified by construction
shelter made from salvaged materials.
There is an additional category that is referred to as ‘professional
squatters’ and is defined as individuals or groups who occupy
lands without the owner’s consent and who have sufficient
income for legitimate housing. The term also applies to those previously
awarded lots or housing by the government, but who sold, leased
or transferred the same and settled illegally in the same place
or in another urban area as non-bona fide occupants and intruders
on land for social housing. The term does not apply to individuals
or groups who rent land and housing from ‘professional squatting
syndicates’. Professional squatting syndicates are the informal
and illegal organizations that covertly coordinate the activities
of professional squatters.
Expenses on housing primarily involve mortgages or rents; but ‘squatters’
typically spend nothing on a regular basis on housing. However,
most squatters incur initial housing investments to pay for ‘land
rights’ and to build their house.
On average, three-quarters of the households in Manila’s slums
are long-term (more than five years) residents of the area. The
settlements average 19.2 years in age and often are 40 years’
old, or older. The majority of the households migrated to these
areas from other cities within the metro or the city. The majority
of the urban poor households have been living in Metro Manila for
nearly two decades. Half of the population in slums are employed
in the formal sector. Informal employment largely consists of domestic
help, tricycle driving, construction labour, selfemployment, factory
labour and vending.
Metro Manila consists of 12 cities, 5 municipalities and 1694 barangays,
governed by their respective local government units (LGUs). The
Local Government Code (LGC) mandates the LGUs to provide efficient
and effective governance and to promote general welfare within their
respective territorial jurisdictions. The LGUs are relatively autonomous.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) was created
in order to ensure the effective delivery of metro-wide services;
the adoption and implementation of policies, standards, rules and
regulations, as well as programmes and projects, to rationalize
and optimize land use and provide direction to urban growth and
expansion; the rehabilitation and development of slum and blighted
areas; the development of shelter and housing facilities; and the
provision of necessary social services.
With increased decentralization, the participation of NGOs and people’s
organizations (POs) in the planning, implementation and monitoring
of LGU-led projects has increased. The LGC prescribed the formation
of local development councils (LDCs) or special bodies to serve
as venues for representing communities, through their organizations,
to express their views on issues affecting them.
The 1987 Bill of Rights grants all citizens the right of access
to affordable housing. In 1986, the government was turned into ‘enabler’
and ‘facilitator’, and the Urban Development and Housing
Act (UDHA) was passed. The UDHA provides for comprehensive and integrated
urban development and housing, while, under the communal upgrading
scheme – the Zonal Improvement Programme – the government
can expropriate land for resale to the residents after developing
the site and introducing basic services and facilities. The government
established a viable home financing system through the revival of
home financing institutions, while funding for long-term mortgages
that would be affordable even to those below the poverty line was
sourced from insurance funds administered by the social security
The strength of Metro Manila’s approaches lies in the holistic
character of metro-wide action for slum improvement, regularization,
housing finance, poverty alleviation and partnerships with NGOs
and CBOs The longterm effectiveness of this approach is, despite
the enormity of Manila’s slum issues, likely to show that
persistent adherence to urban-wide policy will lead to satisfactory
has been extracted from:
UN-Habitat (2003) Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, The Challenge
of Slums, Earthscan, London; Part IV: 'Summary of City Case Studies',