Cover Image
close this bookEmerging World Cities in Pacific Asia (UNU, 1996, 528 pages)
close this folderPart 2. Changing Asia-Pacific world cities
close this folderGlobal influences on recent urbanization trends in the Philippines
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentRecent urbanization trends
View the documentA simple model for examining global influences
View the documentGlobal influences on urbanization trends
View the documentConcluding remarks
View the documentAcknowledgement
View the documentReferences

Recent urbanization trends

Indicators suggest that, although the tendency towards the primacy of Metro Manila remains positive, it may be slowing down. Table 8.1 presents three measures of this tendency: (1) the ratio of the urban population to the total population; (2) the ratio of Metro Manila's population to the total population; and (3) the ratio of Metro Manila's population to the total urban population. Rates of changes for these measures between the five census years show that urbanization and urban primacy accelerated until 1970 but declined towards 1990. The upward trend is explained by Pernia et al. (1982) as being the result of the import-substitution programme that was implemented in the 1960s. The decline may be a response to increasing congestion in the metropolis, to rising land values, and to incentives underlying the industrial dispersal programme initiated in the mid-1970s.

The relative decline of the primacy of Metro Manila after 1970 was anticipated by the work of Pernia et al. (1982) and was observed by a more recent study by Lamberte et al. (1990). An explanation for this trend is that Metro Manila's growth spilled over into its peripheral regions: Central Luzon (Region 3) and Southern Tagalog (Region 4).

Fig. 8.1 Regional population shares in the Philippines, 1948-1990 (NCR = National Capital Region; CAR = Cordillera Autonomous Region. Source: National Statistics and Census Bureau, Philippine Statistical Yearbook 1991)

As shown in figure 8.1, the decline has not actually led to more balanced regional growth.

The changing regional distribution of population over the five census years from 1948 to 1990 is shown in figure 8.1. The 13 regions of the Philippines are ranked in terms of the 1990 regional population shares. The almost equal number of marks above (and to the left of) and below (and to the right of) the curve shows how the regional distribution of population tilted over time in favour of Metro Manila (the National Capital Region) and its peripheral regions.

The distribution of the total urban population among the different regions may be more telling about other aspects of recent urbanization trends. Figure 8.2 shows that Metro Manila has the highest concentration of urban population with a 5 per cent share. Whereas it was shown earlier that in terms of total population the regions peripheral to Metro Manila (Regions 3 and 4) were among those with the largest shares, these regions actually rank low in terms of urban population shares. This indicates that the peripheral regions largely remain rural and that increased modern economic activities located in these regions continue to enjoy amenities. Although Central Visayas (Region 7) and Western Visayas (Region 6) are among the most highly urbanized regions next to the National Capital Region (NCR), their individual shares of the total urban population are less than a fifth of that of Manila.

Fig. 8.2 Regional population shares and growth in the Philippines, 19801990 (Source: National Statistics and Census Bureau, Philippine Statistical Yearbook 1991)

Another interesting pattern shown in figure 8.2 concerns the rate of growth of the urban population across regions. Between 1980 and 1990 Manila grew by 3.3 per cent while the next most urbanized regions grew at slower rates (Region 7 at 3.1 per cent and Region 6 at 2.2 per cent). What is surprising is that regions with less than half a per cent share of total urban population actually grew faster than Manila. These regions include Southern Mindanao, where Davao City is located, Central Mindanao, where Cotabato City is, and Cagayan Valley, where Baguio City used to belong before the Cordillera Autonomous Region was organized.

In terms of cities, regional centres outside Metro Manila are also shown to have grown faster. In figure 8.3, the top 20 cities in the Philippines are ranked in terms of population size. Ranked first is Metro Manila followed by Davao (Region 11), Cebu (Region 7), Zamboanga (Region 9), Bacolod (Region 6), Cagayan de Oro (Region 10), and so on. Although it is not surprising that Manila remains at least 10 times larger, there are a number of smaller cities that are growing at a noticeably faster rate relative to Manila. Among the fastest-growing cities are General Santos (ranked 8th in population size) in Region 10, which has recently been very active in food processing of tropical fruit and marine products for export, and Mandaue (ranked 15th in population size) in Metro Cebu, Region 7, where commercial, trading, and light manufacturing activities have likewise been growing.

Fig. 8.3 Population growth of the top 20 cities in the Philippines, 1980-1990

The questions raised by the patterns revealed by figures 8.2 and 8.3 are the following: Will the prevailing growth patterns (Manila vs. regional centres) be sustained? Moreover, will these trends eventually effect a change in the urban landscape? How are these changes affected by global factors, including foreign direct investment and exports?

To begin answering the above questions, let us consider some indicators on economic performance of the different regions. In figure 8.4, the regions are ranked according to their respective regional gross domestic products (GRDP) relative to that of the National Capital Region. The two other indicators shown are the GRDP growth rates between 1980 and 1990, and the change in each region's share of the gross national product for the same years, which is taken to indicate the region's performance relative to others.

The regional distribution of national income follows a pattern similar to that observed for the regional distribution of population. In figure 8.4, the line marked by squares shows the gross domestic product of a region relative to that of Manila. It indicates, for example, that the second most productive region (Region 4) is producing only as much as 45 per cent of Manila's output while the poorest region (Region 2) is producing only less than 1 per cent. The line indicates the degree of concentration of productive activity in the national capital and its peripheral regions.

Fig. 8.4 Growth and shares of gross regional domestic product (GRDP) en GNP, 1980-1990 (Source: National Statistics and Census Bureau, Philippine Statistical Yearbook 1991)

It is also interesting to note that only four regions were able to expand their share of total national income between 1980 and 1990. What is surprising is that the Central Visayas Region (Region 7) is shown to be one of the fastest-growing regions. The growth of the Central Visayas, particularly of Cebu, is reputedly driven by global factors including direct foreign investment, tourism, and exports.

The general influence of some global factors such as foreign direct investment and exports on urbanization is shown in figure 8.5. The observed pattern is that the level of urbanization of a region measured in terms of its share of the total urban population is positively correlated with the region's share of total exports and foreign direct investment.

There are a number of notable kinks in the correlations shown in figure 8.5. Regions 4 and 1 are shown to have received shares of total foreign direct investment disproportionately larger than their urbanization levels. Investments flowing into Region 1 may be responding to location-specific resources of the region, especially mineral resources. Foreign investments in Region 4 are still driven by economies of size provided by Metro Manila. The provinces of Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas are close enough to Manila for investors to enjoy banking facilities, communications networks, and other infrastructure offered by the metropolis.

Fig. 8.5 Global influences on urbanization in the Philippines (FOR NV = foreign investment. Source: National Statistics and Census Bureau, Philippine Statistical Yearbook 1991)

It is apparent from the discussion in this section that, although global factors tend to be positively correlated with the existing urbanization pattern, developments in the regions suggest the possibility that global influences need not necessarily lead to greater urban primacy. A number of questions are subsequently raised. Do global factors have any influence on the smaller and less perceptible changes at the regional level and across time? Do local factors behave any differently? What about the interaction between local and global influences? Does an existing urbanization pattern have any influence over the way global forces are applied initially?