Cebu, Manila among chosen cities in APEC livability study

By: Marites Villamor Ilano November 18,2015 - 03:21 AM

Both cities cited for English-based curriculum, growing middle class

The metropolises of Cebu and Manila were included among 28 key urban centers assessed for their livability, sustainability and competitiveness in the first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) cities report.

“All of the chosen cities are vital geographic and economic gateways to their respective markets, as well as to the wider APEC region,” international accounting and professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said in its report titled “Building Better Cities,” which was released on the sidelines of the APEC CEO Summit in Manila yesterday.

Metro Cebu ranked 26th while Metro Manila ranked 22nd according to their performance across 39 indicators grouped in five categories, namely, culture and social health, connectivity, health and welfare, sustainability, and economics. A copy of the report may be downloaded in full at

With the best performer given the highest score of 28 while the cellar dweller a 1, Manila was given a score of 15 in culture and social health, 9 in connectivity, 2 in health and welfare, 3 in environmental sustainability, and 7 in economics. Cebu received a score of 12 in culture and social health, 2 in connectivity, 3 in health and welfare, 6 in environmental sustainability, and 6 in economics.

The report said the rankings are “not a ruling,” but a “progress report and hopefully it is the start of a web of city connections” that will allow APEC cities to collaborate, borrow best ideas and seek advice.

“We hope to give cities a view of where they are now—even as they improve and grow, as they share ingenuity and commerce. We want to track the pivot points where a high functioning city might face challenges—such as those caused by sustainability issues, or overstretched infrastructure,” the report stated.

Cebu and Manila were cited in their “century-old tradition of an English-based school curriculum” and a growing urban middle class, which have helped developed the two cities to become two of the biggest markets globally in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

The report said Cebu’s middle class has been growing by 6.4 percent since 2013 and is ranked eighth biggest global BPO destination.

Manila has added 670,000 to its middle-class ranks since 2013.

“With a population of nearly 13 million (including a large, young, educated, and English-speaking population), it’s reaping the rewards of two decades of attracting BPO,” the report said.

“Beginning with a single call center in 1992, it (Manila) is now the world’s second largest BPO destination and has employed 900,000 Filipinos in the BPO sector with revenues growing to $15.5 billion from $1.5 billion in the last decade,” it added.

In a press conference, National Competitiveness Council (NCC) private sector co-chair Guillermo M. Luz was quick to blame local governments, specifically the mayors of the cities belonging to the bigger Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

Luz said the competitiveness, livability and sustainability of cities should be seen as the upmost responsibility of mayors, who, he said, should “learn from the report.”

The report noted that “numerous airport projects are in the works to release the pressure valve on some overstretched airports” such as in the Philippines, “which ranked 108 out of 144 economies in quality of air transport infrastructure by The World Bank.”

“Our study ranks Cebu, the Philippines’ second-largest city, low in connectivity, including airport connectivity and access from the airport to the business district center. However, the city plans to add a second terminal to its Mactan Cebu international airport, nearly tripling capacity to 12.5 million passengers when completed in 2018,” PwC added.

The top 3 spots went to Toronto, Vancouver and Singapore.

“What’s interesting is that Toronto was number-one in just one of our five categories—but did well across all five (although even that city has room for improvement in such indicators as connectivity, middle-class growth, and most significantly, cost of living),” the report added.

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TAGS: APEC CEO Summit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Cebu, livable city, Manila

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