According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Philippine economy expanded by about 6.2 per cent in 2018. It was lower than the average annual growth rate of 6.6 percent from 2012 to 2017 but still places the country as among the fastest-growing economies in Emerging Asia. During Q4 2018, industry had the fastest growth, with 6.9 percent, followed by services (6.3 percent) and agriculture (1.7 percent).
The total number of foreign tourist arrivals rose by 7.7 percent to 7.1 million people in 2018 from a year earlier, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). South Korea remained the country’s top tourism market with 22.3 percent share, followed by China (17.6 percent), the US (14.5 percent), Japan (8.9 percent) and Australia (3.9 percent).
The economy is expected to grow at a faster pace of 6.7 percent this year, amidst improving macroeconomic conditions and slowing inflation, according to ADB President Takehiko Nakao.
The Philippine economy grew by an average of 6.3 percent annually from 2010 to 2016 with the previous administration’s socioeconomic reform including anti-corruption campaign which wowed foreign investors and caused consumer confidence to surge. The Philippines’ investment ratings were upgraded to investment grade by Moody, Standard & Poors’, and Fitch Ratings. The Philippines’ competitiveness improved sharply, with a Global Competitiveness Index rank of 47th out of 140 economies in 2015-16, up from 52 in 2014, 59 in 2013, and 65 in 2012.
Today, favorable opportunities and a strong appetite for residential, office and commercial spaces continue to fuel optimism in the Philippine real estate sector.
“In the current economic climate, the opportunity is for developers to expand their office, residential and hospitality footprints outside Manila. Developers should seize this opportunity to build more offices in key hubs outside Manila, and acquire land parcels near soon-to-be expanded regional airports. Hoteliers should continue facilitating intra-Asian demand, by implementing mobile payment platforms popular with Chinese and Korean tourists,” Colliers International Philippines said in its published report in August 2019.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s ambitious US$180-billion “Build, Build, Build” program also makes a difference in the overall outlook both from local and foreign investors. BBB is designed to modernize the country’s infrastructure by rolling out 75 flagship projects, including 6 airports, 9 railways, 3 bus rapid transits, 32 roads and bridges, 4 seaports, 4 energy facilities, 10 water resource projects and irrigation systems, and 5 flood control facilities, among others.
Nine of these projects are currently under construction, including the Clark Airport expansion; the first phase of the Metro Manila subway; the North-South railway projects; the 130-km first phase of the Mindanao railway; the Kaliwa water supply project; and the Cavite flood control project, among others.
Some 28 projects are projected to be completed before the end of Duterte’s term in 2022. These projects are expected to sustain strong economic growth, raising annual infrastructure spending by about 3 to 7 percent of GDP until 2022.
“We will make the next few years the golden age of infrastructure in the Philippines to enhance our mobility and connectivity, and thereby spur development growth. In other words, we are going to build, build and build,” the president said.
The Rise of Emerging Cities
A lot of urban planners and developers have taken time to develop other cities and municipalities outside the metropolis to decentralize the political decisions, decongest the cities and democratize the resources giving way to the development of emerging cities. For highly respected urban planner and architect Felino Palafox Jr, principal of Palafox Associates, the emerging cities are Puerto Princesa, Zamboanga, Clark, San Fernando (Pampanga), Laoag, Vigan, Legazpi, Balanga, Batangas, Lucena, and Iloilo owing to their adequate infrastructure such as international airports and seaports that could develop bigger opportunities for trade and tourism to generate employment, a healthy workforce, and efficient land use.
Davao and Cebu, of course, are way ahead of the group and should promote better mobility by creating walkable and bikable streets complemented by robust mass transport systems.
Then there is Clark Global City housing the new Clark International Airport with expected almost 8,000 average daily passenger volume from over 200 international and 400 domestic flights. The new city is also home to several Grade A office towers, international hotel chains and upscale residential condominium projects of DataLand, Century Properties, and Udenna’s PH Resorts. This is not to mention the in-progress completion of the West Aeropark with five office towers, two of which is fully occupied by BPO companies while the rest are pre-leased by a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) company.
Emerging city by the bay
Currently building by the bay is D.M. Wenceslao and Associates Incorporated, the master developer of Aseana City, one of the largest undeveloped landbanks in Metro Manila, bordering Mall of Asia, PAGCOR Entertainment City along the shores Manila Bay fronting Parañaque City.
“Basically, we are developing that whole area as a new city, to be a next-generation development,” the developer said.
Located along Roxas Boulevard, the project offers a spectacular view of the world-famous Manila Bay’s beautiful sunset.
Nearby is Aspire Corporate Plaza, a P2-billion office building to be completed by 2020. A project of GOLDEN BAY Fresh Landholdings, Inc., Aspire is touted as the “first and only property in the Macapagal Bay Area to sell office spaces. The 10-storey Aspire Corporate Plaza is aimed primarily at small and medium-sized enterprises. With an approximate total area of two hundred four (204) hectares, Aseana City offers a closer view to history as it’s in the vicinity of the walled city of Intramuros and country’s bastion of business achievement – Binondo, Makati and Ortigas.
Making PHL cities liveable
In the Philippines, investment opportunities for livable cities could give a prize of at least $82 billion and 4.4 million jobs by 2030,” Systemiq senior advisor Gail Klintworth said during the “Sustainable Cities Summit: Building Liveable Cities” held in October 17 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
Klintworth encouraged private sectors to follow United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the “blueprint” to achieve a better and more sustainable cities and future for all by 2030.
City mayors and private sector representatives took part in the Summit to discuss how to improve the state of local cities and make them more liveable. Mayors of the 145 cities in the Philippines together with private sector professionals and practitioners discussed major issues in developing liveable cities – basic services, mobility, resilience, and GovTech.
Aside from Klintworth, local and international experts were invited to share ideas and best practice around these key challenges and share how current digital trends and emerging technologies can bring about innovation in cities and communities.
Launched at the Summit is the Dashboard and Liveable Cities Challenge. The Dashboard is a visual database of key indicators of all the cities in the Philippines, which will be useful for local chief executives, investors, and residents in assessing the competitiveness and liveability of cities. Meanwhile, the Challenge is a 90-day design competition where cities will have the opportunity to meet mentors and compete to pitch their design solutions to a panel of experts in early 2020.
“Cities are the centers of economic growth and innovation, but the rate of urbanization and internal migration has created new challenges involving disaster resilience, mobility, and the delivery of basic services,” said Liveable Cities Challenge Chairman Guillermo M. Luz. “The Liveable Cities Challenge can help local officials develop comprehensive, replicable, and implementable solutions to improve the liveability of our metropolises, while strengthening local communities in the process.”