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Ang Pinaka: Livable Cities in the Philippines

Out of almost 150 cities in the Philippines, which are the most livable? “Ang Pinaka” took on the challenge of listing the top 10. Top travel blogger and heritage conservation advocate Ivan Henares, University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Architecture Dean Mary Anne Espina, and architect, urban-planner, and environmentalist Felino Palafox Jr. joined the episode as expert guest panelists.

To come up with the list, “Ang Pinaka” measured each city using the following criteria:

  • culture and heritage preservation

  • traffic management

  • accessibility of transportation

  • presence of parks and malls

  • presence of trees and environmental efforts

  • safety

  • availability of employment opportunities

  • provision of basic services and infrastructures

  • accessibility of schools

  • well-planned residential communities

If you're planning to move to another city, check out this list:

10. Manila

Manila is the Philippines' business and political hub. The city also showcases our country’s culture and heritage.

"I like Manila because it's the gateway to our rich heritage, from Intramuros to Binondo, Sta. Cruz, in fact, and even San Nicolas," says Ivan Henares.

Manila, however, has a lot of assignments to work on, starting with its inadequate public services and dirty streets.

"Manila needs urban-renewal or urban acupuncture. It's really deteriorated. The flooding is still there, the garbage. There's no coordination," says Felino Palafox Jr.

9. Bacolod City

Bacolod is the gateway to the sugar-rich cities and towns of Negros Occidental. The city used to be dependent on the sugar industry, but over the years, business has diversified. Bacolod now has a bright future in tourism, handicrafts, and agro-industrial enterprises.

While it boasts a healthy economy, Bacolod also takes pride in its glorious past. The city has managed to preserve much of its heritage architecture.

"The Negros Occidental Capitol is one of the best buildings in the country, so kapag nakita mo 'yung capitol building, alam na alam mong nasa Bacolod ka," says Ivan Henares.

8. Iloilo City

Iloilo, dubbed as the 'Princess City of the South,' is now moving towards socio-economic growth. Multi-million-peso investments have been flowing into the city, and construction is on the rise.

As the city moves towards progress, it doesn't forget its culture and heritage. The twin sister of Bacolod City, in fact, is famous for its preservation of heritage buildings.

"Iloilo is one of those cities na may character," says Ivan Henares. "Especially now na nire-repaint nila 'yung mga lumang structures."

The residents of Iloilo are also known for their friendliness and hospitality.

"I don't know many people in Iloilo, but when I go there I feel like I know many people. I just feel naturally welcome there," says Mary Anne Espina.

7. Baguio

Baguio is not only the summer capital of the Philippines but is also the gateway to other tourist destinations in the north. Its cool weather and pine-scented mountain air make it the perfect weekend getaway. The city too balances modernity with traditional Cordillera culture.

However, some consider Baguio too congested already. "Unfortunately may mga areas sa Baguio na hindi nabantayan nang maayos, lalo na 'yung mountain views na hindi natin masyadong nae-enjoy kasi punong-puno ng ng bahay," says Ivan Henares.

6. Davao

Davao City, a regular entry in Asiaweek's “Best Cities in Asia,” is famous for its strict government and disciplined locals.

"Crime is very low in Davao. It's a very safe place to live. Takot na takot ang mga criminal sa Davao City because of the political will of the mayor," says Ivan Henares.

Residents of Davao also enjoy the luxury of having nature within reach of their bustling metropolis.

"Davao is the place where you can enjoy nature even in the city. If you want to go to the beach, the beach is just a few minutes away from the city. If you want to go to the mountain, we have the foothills of Mt. Apo in Davao City," says Mary Anne Espina.

5. Tagaytay

Tagaytay City is a favorite tourist destination because of its excellent view of the Taal Lake and its cool weather. The city, however, is now seeing the rise of several condominium developments, which might mar its natural landscape.

"'Yung pagtayo ng condo units is scary in the sense na kapag dumami 'yung tao sa Tagaytay at hindi nila aayusin 'yung infrastructure, road networks, public transportation, baka magka-traffic," says Ivan Henares.

4. Puerto Princesa

Nature and eco-tourism immediately come to mind when we say Puerto Princesa. The city is famous for its enivronmental efforts, nearby beaches, and the Underground River, which was recently declared as one of the new seven wonders of nature.

"The thing I like about Puerto Princesa is that it's a green city. You have the Underground River, for example. Also, everything you need is in the city center, but when you go outside, you now have beautiful beaches," says Ivan Henares.

3. Quezon City

Accessible public transportation, availability of employment opportunities, good schools, and well-planned residential communities-- these are what make Quezon City one of the most livable cities in the Philippines.

"We have really comfortable and well-planned residential areas in QC. Hospitals too, top universities, and shopping malls are also available," observes Ivan Henares.

Quezon City, however, also takes pride in its large, open parks that house old, tall trees, and green patches. These parks include Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife and Quezon Memorial Circle.

2. Makati City

Makati is the commercial and financial center of the Philippines, famous for its intelligent urban-planning and conduciveness to business. The Makati City government is also known for its social welfare programs. Makati residents even get "perks" -- for example, senior citizens get cakes and movie passes on their birthdays.

"Makati is livable because of the initiatives of the private sector," says Jun Palafox, Jr. "Amenities of urban living are available in Makati. You can walk to a fine dining resto or to a fast food."

1. Cebu City

The Queen City of the South is a thriving, highly-urbanized city that is able to balance modernity, nature, and culture.

"Cebu preserved its character. Kapag nasa Cebu ka alam mong makikita mo yung landmarks and public open spaces. Kumpleto rin dahil we have a major airport here, as well top universities. And yung mga beach, few minutes away only," says Ivan Henares.

--Ang Pinaka Staff/PF, GMA News