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
- Restaurants, fastfood chains, burger joints, bars, etc.
- Event places such as concert hall, stadium, open fields
- Lodging venues such as hotels, motels, inns
- 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:
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:
- MOA Complex
- Trinoma-SM North
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.
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.