Density Is Such A Not-So-Lonely Word

 

Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.

– Thomas Malthus

Most of us always have that love-hate relationship with Metro Manila. Inasmuch as we hate the perennial traffic, flooding, and congestion, if you happen to live in the Metro, chances are, you’ll miss them all. Metro Manila is becoming denser as years progress. As a matter of fact, it is 62 times denser than the national average (PSA, 2012). Yeah as if it’s still a surprise to anyone. In 2015, 12.8 million strong sharing the same air, land, road, water table, and that’s exclusive of the tourists, visitors, and transients visiting the big Metro. Metro Manila is almost the size of Chad, an African country. It is double the size of Denmark. While 12.8 million people is quite a story, congestion of people in the Metro is another interesting plot to see.

So, the question is where do our fellows settle most at? We’re quite sure that they don’t live on the river but along the rivers. You can go to Quiapo or Tondo and feel the dizzy sweat of your instant pals inside your personal bubble. Or sleep through the calm charm of large open spaces in UP Diliman and Katipunan. There is black, white, and a wide spectrum of gray when we speak of density of Metro Manila. I therefore thought of possibly visualizing the 2015 population of Metro Manila based on PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) but put it with a twist.

Not A Rocket Science

Hey this is not some sort of rocket science, physics, or some study of entropy. This is basically plain visualization of population. The most realistic method is to illustrate the population through dots in the map. But sure, the map will basically be a plain-filled color because 12.8 million dots will fill the map. So I represented each green dot = 100 people in every barangay.

Is that it? Not so fast. Each dot will randomly fill the barangay space, that is, if barangays have no waterways, restricted spaces, etc. But that’s not the case. So, I tapped all known large open spaces and waterways that would be impossible for people to settle at and restricted the random dot to be placed there. I think that’s quite logical enough. I would have wanted to do the opposite on the existing roads; that is, gather the random dots to nearest highways, roads, alleys, and waterways, but I think that would require me more time since we are talking more than 5,000 kilometers of road, barangay and subdivision roads not counted yet. That’s quite a lot. So I think I’m ready. Here’s the result:

mempopdensity
An illustration of population growth in Metro Manila for every decade from 1990 to 2010, and 2015.

So, did you find your community? I found mine, quite true. Check yours.

A GIF Says A Thousand Words

Perhaps a moment of glance on the gif would tell us something:

  1. City of Manila is indeed the densest extending to Caloocan City (South) – with its historical role in the development of the country, it is no surprise that Manila continues to be among the densest in the country. Historical landmarks, universities, diverse services, commerce & trade, hawker shops, tiangges, transportation hub, and squatters are among the push factors in this city.
  2. Barangays along Pasig river have the densest population – does Mesopotamia ring a bell? Ting!! But this is another kind. People in Mesopotamia directly benefit from the Tigris and Euphrates. Here in Pasig River, I am not sure. We do not want to eat or drink something that came directly from Pasig River. Perhaps because the setbacks and communities along the river were among the neglected spaces by the local government thus easily occupied by informal settlers and communities.
  3. Decade 2000s marked the steady growth of south and north Manila – When the city of Manila started to deteriorate in 1970’s to 1980’s, then incoming Generation X’ers (babies of baby boomers who loved the imperial Manila) learned that city of Manila is no longer the pearl of Philippines. They started moving out to suburbs – thus BF Homes, Ayala Alabang, Moonwalk, Merville in the south, Corinthian Gardens, San Juan Greenhills and Loyola Grand Villas in the north were among the pioneer communities wherein considered fringes during 1990s. Moving forward, the fringes extended up to the borders of Metro Manila – North Caloocan extending to Bulacan in the north, and Muntinlupa extending to Cavite in the south. You will also observe the sudden increase in Batasan area in QC; perhaps that was during Erap and GMA’s relocation programs to Montalban (Rodriguez) thus directly covering the Batasan transportation belt.
  4. We seriously lack open spaces – large open spaces which serve as breathing lungs of Metro Manila are Rizal Park in Manila, Quezon Memorial Park (which is gradually becoming built up), UP Diliman campus, Ateneo de Manila campus in Quezon City, Ayala Triangle in Makati, and the Lamesa Dam Reservoir within the boundaries of Quezon City, Caloocan, and Rodriguez Rizal. More than these large breathing spaces, we need pocket open spaces that will serve population in every accessible way.

What’s Next?

I was not able to include Marilao & San Jose del Monte in Bulacan, Rodriguez & Antipolo in Rizal, Imus & Bacoor in Cavite, and San Pedro & Santa Rosa in Laguna on the map but they’re actually the next population giants.

Whether Metro Manila subway is on its way to Philippine infra scene, or Marcoses are on their grand return come next election, or BPO is still alive in the next 10 years, population is bound to grow, though there’s a diminishing marginal rate, we still tend to enjoy the country’s young population until the next 25 years. If current planned infrastructure will continue, I think, Metro Manila will start regressing population growth due to its continuous urbanization while fringes will continue to grow. That is, I’m speaking of decades of population changes, and I think that’s not gonna happen in the nearest future.

References:

Philippine Statistics Authority. (2016, May 31). Population of the National Capital Region. Retrieved April 2017, from Philippine Statistics Authority: https://psa.gov.ph/content/population-national-capital-region-based-2015-census-population-0

Philippine Statistics Authority. (2012, April 4). The 2010 Census of Population and Housing Reveals the Philippine Population at 92.34 Million. Retrieved April 2017, from Philippine Statistics Authority: https://psa.gov.ph/content/2010-census-population-and-housing-reveals-philippine-population-9234-million

 

Hottest Spot for Valentine’s Day

And, just like that, Valentine’s Day finally happened. This is the only day where you’ll see flowers blooming in the city in broad daylight afternoon. Come sunset, expect to literally bump people (and cars) everywhere. Likewise, this is the perfect excuse to splurge on sweet nothings – Holland tulips, fancy cards, posh-packaged chocolates, fully-booked restaurants, and to some extent, fully-booked inns and hotels (Oohhlala). In all perspective, Metro Manila is a hustle and bustle of people and events. Now I quickly pondered, where would they be now? On a regular Friday or Saturday night, I am sure people flock in Ortigas, BGC, or Timog, but strictly speaking, where would we flock in the Metro?

So I took the liberty of visualizing spatial movement of people in the metro. But how can I do it? Then there came social media. What is more powerful today than social media? Apps like Zomato, Foursquare, Swarm record our visit for every check-in we make. These data check-ins (don’t worry, the apps never reveal your identity in the record) are the bridge to answer my questions. There had been a lot academic sites which share these kind of data. For one, Dingqi Yang’s Dingqi Yang’s page provided a good one. I quickly downloaded some data from the site to see how busy Metro Manila is on a regular Friday and Saturday and perhaps deduce from it some side stories such as Saturday night spots, payday zones, and Valentine’s Day oozing districts. Dingqi’s site has uploaded the census check-ins of the Foursquare in the metro for the last two years. From there, I can derive the volume of check-ins for a given day or perhaps, a census for entire record years. For this quick study, for general visualization, I used all the check-ins for the recorded two years. However, to make the data useful to my objective, I only sorted the establishments relevant to people like me, who frequently visit on a payday or occasion day. These are

  1. Restaurants, fastfood chains, burger joints, bars, etc.
  2. Event places such as concert hall, stadium, open fields
  3. Lodging venues such as hotels, motels, inns
  4. Entertainment spots such as malls and theaters

The whole process was done through GIS (Geographic Information System) and by utilizing density spatial analysis. For simplicity’s sake, I initially used the optimized kernel density as I gradually develop this map. There may be a lot of flaws such as biased population data since this is only based on voluntary check-in on Foursquare. Nonetheless, this can provide an interesting insight of movement of people in Metro Manila. I think I will have to create another blog entry for the entire process of kernel density that I did with the data thus resulting the map. It was quite a long process.

The result, here’s the map:

Hotspot.jpg

The result of the quick study has specified spots in the Metro Manila. Though it may be obvious to some that Makati and Ortigas are the place to go, or MOA Complex will never make you bored, this only affirms visually the density in the Metro. With the result, I think I can visually rank them with the following:

Core 3:

  1. Makati
  2. Ortigas-Shaw-Tiendesitas
  3. BGC

Influential 5:

  1. MOA Complex
  2. Eastwood
  3. Trinoma-SM North
  4. Greenhills
  5. Timog

Next 10:

Star City-CCP, Katipunan, Magallanes, Airport, Alabang-Zapote, McKinley Hill, Monumento, Maginhawa, Banawe, Fairview

A reflection on Christaller’s Central Place Theory can provide us a small introduction on the concept of these developments. How hierarchy of needs exist relative to distance and necessity. How the core happened to be the source of wider range of goods and services while smaller patches of developments may provide specific need to its neighborhood.

For instance, Core 3 are the established centers in Metro Manila. Their influence virtually covers the entire country. This is where HQ offices locate – local and international, embassies and consulates, city and regional malls, museums. People are practically willing to travel to this center no matter how far since these 3 centers can provide higher goods and services. This is where dreams become reality. The melting pot of culture. These are the default dibs to whatever is something to the country. You’ll meet all kinds of foreigners and it’s normal. People are culturally diverse, more liberal disposition, creative class, artisanal, intellectuals, mean income is proportionally higher than the rest of the country.

Makati’s crowd drawers aside from its HQ offices are Ayala Avenue and Ayala Center (Glorietta 1-5, Greenbelt 1-5, Landmark, SM in one leisure walk) and the Philippine Stock Exchange. Ortigas-Shaw-Tiendesitas boasts Ortigas Business District where it accommodates Meralco, Philippine Stock Exchange, HQ offices, SM Megamall, Shangri-La, Tiendesitas, posh villages. Bonifacio Global City, meanwhile, is a fast-rising star. It will soon house the unified Philippine Stock Exchange, currently it has Bonifacio High Street, Mind Museum, open spaces, modern buildings, modern bars, modern everything. Adjacent to it is Uptown Mall and Burgos Circle.

The Influential 5 have quite different personalities but all serve as regional centers in providing goods and services. They are sometimes at par with the Core 3. Entertainment City, for example, provides gaming and entertainment events which no other districts in the metro can provide.

MOA Complex is younger than BGC but it rapidly catches up in the race. It has the Mall of Asia, The Arena, a complex of offices, condominium, the Entertainment City and soon a lot more landmarks to be built with the impending unsolicited proposal of SM. Eastwood City has limited space so I think it will remain as it is though they’re forcing to expand. Trinoma-SM North is a love-hate story of competition. They fought for consumers, products, now even the MRT common station. But this area still gives it’s contemporaries a run for their money. This district has Trinoma, SM North, and Vertis North extending up to Eton Centris. Moving southbound is Greenhills district where malls and offices are also located such as Virra Mall and Greenhills Shopping Center. The place may be relatively smaller than the Core 3 but its clientele is mostly middle class families therefore making it a hotspot for events aficionado. Perhaps two outliers seen on the map are Timog Avenue and Cubao. Cubao has undergone a lot of ups and downs. The Aranetas are continuously revitalizing the district pushing to regain its prominence during the 70’s. Timog Avenue is rich in food shops, hotels, and events places. Those two have high check-in rates in Foursquare but they’re really for food and events place only.

The Next 10 districts are the rising stars behind the centers in the Metro. They cater to specific residential and commercial districts thus their density increases gradually. Katipunan and Maginhawa basically caters UP-Ateneo-Miriam students, residents in QC east and Marikina. Banawe serves the QC-Manila boundary residents with some populace from other place due to the concentration of automotive and industrial parts. Same goes with Fairview in the north, Alabang-Zapote in the south, etc.

The whole map is not conclusive and final. Until now, I am playing around with the data to derive to an objective and statistically sound result. Be sure to check out this blog more often as I continuously develop this study. So, next time that you think where to go next, chances are – these are the top spots that will float on your list. Don’t forget! Check-in on your Foursquare app.

sources:

Dingqi Yang, Daqing Zhang, Bingqing Qu. Participatory Cultural Mapping Based on Collective Behavior Data in Location Based Social Networks. ACM Trans. on Intelligent Systems and Technology (TIST), 2015.

Dingqi Yang, Daqing Zhang, Longbiao Chen, Bingqing Qu. NationTelescope: Monitoring and Visualizing Large-Scale Collective Behavior in LBSNs. Journal of Network and Computer Applications (JNCA), 55:170-180, 2015.