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Developing Dystopia: Manila, From Colonial to Post-Colonial City in Crisis

Developing Dystopia: Manila, From Colonial to Post-Colonial City in Crisis

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Published by Virgilio Rojas
This paper is intended as Chapter 4 to the forthcoming book preliminarily entitled, " Urban Dystopia Made in Manila, From Colonial to Post-Colonial City in Crisis" (Third Eye Publishers, forthcoming, Fall 2011). The text embodied in this chapter plots and analyses the structural genesis of post-colonial urban crisis in metropolitan Manila. Said text should, in the event of excerpts, accordingly be considered as work in progress. Eventual changes and reformulations will appear in its finality in said forthcoming book.
This paper is intended as Chapter 4 to the forthcoming book preliminarily entitled, " Urban Dystopia Made in Manila, From Colonial to Post-Colonial City in Crisis" (Third Eye Publishers, forthcoming, Fall 2011). The text embodied in this chapter plots and analyses the structural genesis of post-colonial urban crisis in metropolitan Manila. Said text should, in the event of excerpts, accordingly be considered as work in progress. Eventual changes and reformulations will appear in its finality in said forthcoming book.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Virgilio Rojas on Jun 06, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/08/2011

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Chapter 4City and Crisis- Convolution in the Post-Colonial City
Post-war metropolitan Manila’s transformation into a veritable mega-city underscoreson the one hand its historical role as key urban axis and locus of dependent capitalistaccumulation and the hyper-magnification of the convolution and contradictionsgenerated by dependency, on the other. In the following sections we will sketch thecontours of convolution across demographic, spatial, ecological and social dimensionsof the urban landscape, as it unravelled in spectacular fashion after de-colonisation.Spatial and Demographic ConvolutionFar eclipsing population and primacy indices given for the urban centres in thePhilippines, Manila’s explosive post-war growth portrays the spatial convolutions ofThird World urbanisation. Its aggregate population in 1975 was more than 10 times thatof the country’s second largest city, or four times that of the combined total of the nextthree major cities. The capital continues to provide “one of the most extreme cases” ofurban primacy in the world. Occupying less than 1% of the total land area, Manila holds12% of the national population, placing it among the most primate cities in the ThirdWorld, surpassed only by those of Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Egypt, Senegal, Taiwan,Hongkong, South Korea, Colombia and Iran.Using the percentage of the national urban population residing in the principalcity, Manila’s dominance is even more prominently revealed, ranking sith among ThirdWorld capitals. If the largest city population is contrasted to the sum of the population
 
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of the next three largest cities in a country, Manila would rank third behind Hongkongand Lima.
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Whereas longitudinal data on urbanisation level (% population in urban areas)and tempo (urban-rural growth rate differentials) for the whole country generallysuggest a sluggish and slackening pattern (27-33.4% or 1/3 of the national total, and 3-1.46 respectively between 1948-1975, albeit respective increments of 3.9% and 2 hadbeen noted in 1980), the metropolitan share of the total urban population had beeninvariably substantial and accounted for a stable increase over time (30.3-37.4% duringthe same period slightly tapering off to 33% in 1980, see Table 1 & 2 below). Moreover,Manila had surpassed all other regions in terms of being the first and only are tocompletely urbanise in 1970 to almost 6 million in 1980, and with a growth rate of 3.6per annum, it is expected to double in roughly 27 years.
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Extreme conurbation and congestion of metropolitan landscape chaperons theexplosive population phenomenon. While the average national population density waspegged at 161 persons sq km, an staggering metropolitan ratio of 9,317 persons per sqkm overshot national figures by 58 times in 1980.
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The corollary impact of conurbationand population on urban ecology is as predictable as it is disproportionately distributedintra-city-wise, and will be the subject of elaboration further on.Decomposing census data on urban growth into its components (i.e. naturalincrease of urban population, in-migration rates and changes related to territorial re-classifications), a study in urban demography establishes the significant weight that net-migrational movements exert on Manila’s incremental expansion across time. As aproportion of metropolitan growth from 1903-1939, average net migration was 33.4%,
 
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 jumping to a peak of 50.7% between 1939-1960, and receding slightly to a substantial41.9% during the intervening decade.
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More recent data
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from official quarters tend to reaffirm the axiom, estimatingthe National Capital Region (= Greater Manila area) to have had the highest in-migration rate in 1985. However, the general picture elsewhere appears to be morecomplex. While about a third of the overall movements between 1965-1970 sorted underthe rural to urban category, about 26% of the moves were in fact urban to urban, nearly24% were rural to rural, and roughly 17% urban to rural, the latter indicating theoccurrence of return migration.
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Among the important propellants behind the intermittent influx of rural labourto the capital and inter-regional differentials in urbanisation often summoned indemographic and the critical literature are: postwar development strategies resultingin unbalanced capital-intensive, import-dependent and urban-biassed industrialisation;highly skewed income and property ownership structures in the rural hinterland andrelatively high urban wage rates; accelerating
Table 1Levels & Tempo of UrbanisationCensus Years, 1903-1980
Census yearLevel of urbanisation*Tempo (urbanisation)**190313.1---191812.5-0.32193921.63.36194827.03.09196029.81.271970***32.91.45

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