"It has become the Philippine economy’s powerhouse."
Shortly after her husband’s placement of this country under martial law, Imelda Marcos thought of creating a geographic entity centered on Manila. She took from Bulacan the municipality of Valenzuela and no less than 12 municipalities from Rizal – Navotas, Malabon, Marikina, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig, Mandaluyong, Makati, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, San Juan and Las Piñas – and added them to Manila, Pasay City, Caloocan City and Quezon City to form an entity called Metro Manila. Without benefit of congressional approval – as one of his first acts as dictator, Ferdinand Marcos padlocked Congress – Metro Manila was thus born. Imelda got her husband to create a Metro Manila Commission with her as its chief executive.
With little interference from the politicians – especially the elected provincial and municipal officials who were abruptly removed from their positions – Imelda Marcos’ new fiefdom gradually embraced the idea of integration and assumed an increasingly large role in the development of the Philippine economy. A number of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna municipalities are so close, geographically and economically, to Metro Manila – Obando and Meycauayan in Bulacan, Cainta and Taytay in Rizal, San Pedro and Biñan in Laguna and Bacoor and Imus in Cavite – that suggestions were received for their inclusion in the new geographic entity. But the suggestions were not accepted; it was decided that MMC should not bite more than it could chew and that total integration of the initial Metro Manila components should first be achieved.
In time, it became abundantly clear to the Philippine economy’s managers – particularly the heads of the National Economic and Development Authority and the Ministry of Trade and Industry – that the nation’s economic epicenter was far larger than Metro Manila and that future economic planning should be done on the basis of an area comprising Metro Manila and a new geographic entity called Calabarzon (the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal in their entireties and the northwestern part of Quezon). This enlarged area is increasingly referred to, unofficially, as Mega Manila.
The high-priority development of the New Clark City complex has taken the Mega Manila concept even further. Mega Manila appears to have gone beyond the provincial boundary of Bulacan and New Clark City is increasingly being regarded as the new frontier of Mega Manila.
Improved transportation infrastructure has been a handmaiden to this expansion. The upgrading and extension of the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway have predictably been an enormous spur to the integration of Metro Manila with the immediately surrounding provinces.
The expansion of Mega Manila is unlikely to end there. Other adjoining provinces – especially Tarlac and Bataan – are slowly edging close to being considered part of Metro Manila. The completion of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway and the start of work on the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan have brought Bataan and Tarlac within striking distance of Mega Manila inclusion. In the case of Bataan, the decision of San Juan de Letran College to locate its latest campus in the municipality of Morong was one of the first shots fired in that direction.
Mega Manila has become the Philippine economy’s powerhouse. And it continues to expand.