Then & Now: Manila Bay

Welcome to Bay City.

In this week’s special “Then & Now” post, we take a look at scenic Manila Bay, and how it’s transformed over the years.

Manila Bay will always something for every Filipino. To historians, it depicted a storyline of the country’s progress.  To lovers it meant a romantic stroll of memories to be made; to artists, its sunset brought forth a well of inspirational thoughts. In any case, the Bay is a sight to behold, not just because of the scenic view at sunset, but because of the. People of all ages and sizes flocked to the bay to enjoy the view of the flowing water

Due to regular congregation of people by the Bay, vendors were a common sight as well. It was not uncommon to enjoy a delicious “dirty” ice cream cone with that stunning sunset.

All those times, Manila Bay was a scenic and nostalgic place for people to enjoy. Could it be more than that though?

Enter SM Development Corporation (SMDC). With a land reclamation project for the Bay, SMDC made the best use of the newly reclaimed area by coming up with a development plan that ushered Manila Bay into the next century. The whole area was meant to be a place where people could work, play, and live. Perhaps the most significant landmark put up is the SM Mall of Asia, one of the largest malls in the world.

SM Mall of Asia Complex

The mall is so large that it has a 20-seater tram (which is a rather big golf cart) inside the complex to transport people across the different sections of the mall. This is superbly helpful for older people who want to visit almost all parts of MOA. It has sprawling parking grounds facing the bay which are used frequently for concerts of international artists, the most recent one being Katy Perry. Perhaps the one of the more spectacular sights is GlobAmaze, the illuminated LED globe which welcomes visitors coming by car from EDSA with a cacophony of high-resolution and full display graphics.

While the birth of Bay City was marked by MOA, its true evolution started with the rise of various commercial & residential developments. San Miguel By The Bay, a commercial area fronting Manila Bay hosting various alfresco restaurants with live bands, dampas (restos where you could pick out fresh seafood to be cooked) was set up much to the delight of Baywalkers looking for great time to party, chat, & celebrate amidst the glimmering night view of the sea.

San Miguel By The Bay. Photo courtesy of Anton Diaz of

Residential Condominiums are on the rise, most notably SMDC’s Sea Residences. Now, residents living here can enjoy a quick trip from their home to the Mall of Asia.

Sea Residences. Photo courtesy of Dennis Ravanzo from

One cool building SMDC has set up in Bay City is its multi-property showroom, where it features a variety of SMDC’s latest residential properties, all in one building.

SMDC Property Showroom

The SMX building is one giant multipurpose venue where conventions, car shows, and forums can be held.

SMX Convention Center

Now, if you thought development in the Bay City couldn’t get any bigger, SM has one more surprise: the SM Arena.

Look out, Smart Araneta Coliseum. Photo courtesy of Azrael Coladilla from

This new arena will have a seating capacity of 20,000, 5,000 more than the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, and will be one of the new homes for games of the University (UAAP). Now there are two places to resolve fierce collegiate rivalries. Maybe the next time NBA players visit the Philippines, they’ll be dribbling in this venue.

As Manila Bay continues to develop into a glittering symbol of the country’s development,  it also serves as a welcome sign for Pinoys abroad to come home and see how much has changed in the Philippines. Welcome to Bay City? More like welcome home.