The economic potential of the Philippines is no longer an unrecognized fact. Countless reports and studies have been made about the country’s rapid economic growth, and even more investments are being poured into the country by investors looking to capitalize on its potential.

The Philippines is now in its seventh year of a house price boom, according to a report by the Global Property Guide. Citing data from international property services firm Colliers International, the report stated that nationwide residential property prices are expected to continue to rise strongly in 2018, boosted by robust economic growth.

“Demand remains strong. In 2017, the take-up of pre-sold condominium units throughout Metro Manila, including fringe locations, rose by 52,600 units, up 24% from a year earlier and the highest level ever in the country’s capital, according to Colliers International. This was mainly due to strong demand from starting families and young professionals. Household formation has increased by an average of 3% every year in the past five years,” the report said.

“In Makati CBD, property prices have risen by almost 60% from Q1 2011 to Q4 2017, amidst rapid economic growth. Yet prices are not high, and yields are good, and the Philippine economy is in the 7th year of strong growth.”

The same could be said of the other central business districts in Metro Manila. Rockwell Center’s average prices for a 3-bedroom condominium rose by 11.7% (8.1% inflation-adjusted) to P221,150 ($4,249) per square meter (sq. m.) in 2017, while in Bonifacio Global City, the average price for a 3-bedroom condominium increased by 4.3% (1% inflation-adjusted) to P175,700 ($3,376) per sq. m. over the same period.

Manila, the capital, is also flourishing, particularly its Bay Area. In terms of numbers, Manila Bay Area is not too far behind the three major central business districts — Bonifacio Global City, Makati City and Ortigas — when it comes to residential condominium and office units, making it among the fastest-growing areas in the metro.

It’s no wonder. Close proximity to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as well as the three major CBDs make it a perfect hub of commercial and economic activity. The area is culturally significant as well, with the Cultural Center of the Philippines breathing life into the Bay’s inhabitants.

Billions of dollars of investments have been made to develop the Bay Area into a central lifestyle and business district. Manila Bay is home to developments like the SM Mall of Asia, the country’s third biggest mall; Aseana City, an integrated mixed-use central business district; and Entertainment City with Las Vegas-style casinos, amusement parks, theaters, office building, hotels, residential buildings and resorts.

Entertainment City, in particular, includes the resort complexes of Solaire Resort & Casino, City of Dreams Manila, Okada Manila and Resorts World Bayshore. The E-City project, as it is otherwise known, is spearheaded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., and is a 60-hectare project envisioned to be the entertainment capital of Asia.

The future of the Bay Area

More than that, the Bay Area is also garnering attention due to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently signed by the Philippine and Dutch governments seeking the sustainable development and management of the entire area.

Under the MoU, the two governments will work together toward the formulation of the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan, which is envisioned to guide future decisions on programs and projects to be undertaken within the Bay area.

“We are fortunate to have the Dutch with us in this endeavor. Their extensive knowledge and experience in implementing programs and projects that protect vulnerable coastal zones are unparalleled,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said during the signing ceremony.

He noted that as the Dutch are known to live at or below sea level, their integrated and innovative solutions in coastal management that mimic natural systems instead of working against them could be extremely beneficial to a country like the Philippines.

The preliminary activities for the master-planning exercise began in 2015, when the Philippine government requested the Dutch government to dispatch a group of Dutch Disaster Risk Reduction experts to Manila to conduct a scoping mission aimed at identifying and assessing the current situation in the Manila Bay area and afterward recommend measures for its sustainable development.

After the mission, the Dutch experts confirmed the urgent need for a framework for the development and management of the Bay Area. The findings prompted the Philippine government to appropriate P250 million of the 2017 NEDA budget for the formulation of the master plan.