Featured Philippine Ports: The Manila North Harbor


Manila bay sunset

Manila bay sunset

Port of Manila

The flow of local products in the market  are primarily done through water, air, and land transport system; amongst the three, water transport are the most utilized. Considering the archipelagic setting of the Philippines, the domestic shipping industry are the most important  structural support for the country’s economy. Shipping industry provides the means for inter-island transport, be that of transporting goods from one port to another; or transporting people to various island far beyond the reach of air travel. Sea transport are viewed by many ordinary filipinos as cost efficient… as compaired to air or land routes.

Port of Manila facilitates the flow of people and products in between the center of industries in the country and various strategic ports in the southern region, thru its modern port facilities. Finish product made by various manufacturing companies in the metro, and imported products coming from different parts of the world comes and goes here everyday. Also people from all walks of life uses the port’s newest terminal to get to their destination in the provinces south from here.  Port of Manila also served as major entry for people and agri-products coming from Visayas and Mindanao region.

PORT OF ENTRY: Manila North Harbor

Manila North Harbor by the way belong to the Port of Manila, the country’s link to major cities of the world and the junction of domestic and international trade. Metro Manila’s domestic shipping is centered on the North Harbor facilities which are situated in the shores of  Tondo, northeast of the Manila International Container Port, along the eastern part of Manila bay. Entrance to Manila bay is between the south approach of  El FraileCorregidor Islands, and the north approach of Caballo Islands. This channel approach is about two miles (3.2 km) towards the north and six and a half miles (10.5 km) wide on the south side. Its Geographical coordinates consist of the ff:

22° 17′ 46″ North, and 114° 11′ 25″ East

North Harbor (being smaller than that of  the South Harbor, in terms of annual cargo/container traffic), has a total quay length of around 5,200 meters, and a total of 41 berths along its various piers, and slips; it connects every major, and minor ports/wharves located in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao region. Accessible via the Radial road (R-10) from Navotas City, and Roxas Boulevard via Delpan bridge.

Manila North Harbor’s facilities are created with the sole purpose of serving the growing domestic passenger and cargo shipping activities within the country. It form part of Manila Port’s backbone, which comprises South Harbor,  Manila International Container Terminal (MICT), and the Port facilities located along the banks of Pasig river extending to Jones bridge in Binondo Manila.

The operation and administration of the Manila North Harbor was transferred to the Philippine Ports Authority from the Bureau of Customs on December 23, 1975 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 857 signed by then former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Vitas area in Tondo on the other hand, were declared  part of the North Harbor Custom Zone by virtue of Executive Order 297 dated March 4, 1971.

On November 26, 1981 the whole of Vitas area  bounded by Pier 18 in the north; Radial road 10 in the east; the Marine Slipway area in the south, and Vitas rock bulkhead in the west have been transferred, and placed under the administration of the Philippine Ports Authority by virtue of EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 749 signed by then President Marcos.

Port History

Construction of North Harbor begins in 1937; and during this time all domestic inter-Island ships/boats of small tonnage anchors along the Pasig river banks. By 1941 Piers 2, 4, 6, and 8 have been completed; gradually shipping activities shifted here thereafter. Before the outbreak of hostilities in World War II,  Manila Port’s North Harbor has the following port improvements namely;

Pier 2, 4, 6, and 8, both of which had 80.43 meters wide x 220.25 meters long pier flatform.

To render the docks safe for ships while at berth or during anchorage, a 1300 meters long x 3 meters wide North Harbor breakwater have been constructed; and a 179.71 meters wide dock or slipway in between these piers.

On the other hand, the completion of three other piers namely Piers 10, 12, and 14 were interrupted by the war.

 World War II

During the escalation of war,  these harbor installation were subjected to extensive bombings and air-raids by Japanese Invasion Forces and later by US Liberation Forces. Although compared to the nearby South Harbor, the piers along North Harbor suffered less damages due to perhaps less penetration or concentration of bombs and other explosive ordinance directed to this area. North Harbor and the rest of Manila Port were not usable for shipping until April 1945, due to harbor obstructions and port facility damages.

Immediately after the liberation of Manila,  US Corps of Engineers known as “MANED” under the consultation with the Philippine Port Commission undertook repairs to the existing Piers. Damaged portions of the piers were replaced with timber deck on timber piles, some piers were lengthened by providing additional berthing spaces at both end. Obstruction to navigation along the channel leading to this piers where removed while dredging of the channels are conducted by the elements of US Army and the Navy.

On September of 1947, US Army then turned over the North Harbor facilities to the Philippine Government. The Division of Ports and Harbors of the Bureau of Public Works took charge of the construction, repair, and maintenance of this pier.


The Port Management Office-North Harbor (PMO – NH) was created on 1st of July 1988, as one of the port management offices under the administrative and operational jurisdiction of the Port District Office of Manila. PDO Manila as it was known, on the other hand, is one of the five (5) major port district offices under the Philippine Ports Authority, a government–owned corporation created under Presidential Decree No. 505 dated 11th of July 1974, as amended by Presidential Decree No. 857 and further amended by Executive Order Nos. 513, 546 and 159.

PMO – North Harbor is headed by a Port Manager and has full jurisdiction over the following:

Isla Puting Bato Port

Isla Puting Bato Port and Manila International Container Terminal

1.  Piers 2 (Negros Navigation) and Isla Puting Bato

Solid Shipping Lines

Solid Shipping Lines

2.  Pier 4 (Gothong Southern, and North Harbor Tugs Corp.)

3.  Pier 6 (MORETA Shipping Lines, Romblon Shipping Lines)

4.  Pier 8 (Solid Shipping Lines)

5.  Pier 10 (Lorenzo Shipping Lines and Gothong Lines)

6.  Pier 12 PSACC (former Sulpicio Lines)

7.  Pier 14 (Oceanic Lines, Loadstar Shipping Lines)

Manila North Harbor

Marine Slipway berth

8.  Pier 16 (Escano Shipping Lines)

9.  Pier 18 Vitas Port

10.  Marine Slip Way (MSW)



Harbour Centre Port Terminal

Harbour Centre Port Terminal

The Harbour Centre Port Terminal (HCPT) on the other hand, is located along the northern end of  North Harbor identified then as the smokey mountain. It is a private commercial port that rivals the government owned ports particularly the South Harbor,  and the North Harbor.

On November 13, 2003 PPA Board Resolution Nos. 1976 allows HCPT (formerly R-II Builders, Inc.) to operate only as foreign non-containerized cargoes and non-containerized vessels. In addition to that,  it also granted to operate as a commercial private port and accommodate all types of domestic vessels and cargoes. Prior to the entry of Harbour Centre Port Terminal in 1996, PPA were the only operator of the ports in Manila.

There are two significant events brought about major changes in the operations of PMO-NH in 2000. In 19th of June, 2000,  jurisdiction over the Terminal Ports of Lamao and Mariveles, in the Province of Bataan was transferred from PMO – North Harbor to PMO – Bataan. Also on April 16, 2000, the Philippine Ports Authority, precipitated by a threat of strike, issued PPA Memorandum Order No. 07-2000 creating the North Harbor Port Services (NHPS) that took over the operations of four private cargo handling operators, namely:

  1. United Dockhandlers, Inc, formerly servicing Piers 6, 12, 14 and 16;
  2. Pier 8 Arrastre and Stevedoring, formerly servicing Pier 8;
  3. Veterans Shipyard Corporation, formerly servicing Marine Slipway (MSW);
  4. Interport Stevedoring and Arrastre Services, formerly servicing Isla Puting Bato (IPB).

Under the national port plan initialized during early years, North Harbor will developed its capability to handle large domestic vessels, sufficient back-up/storage facilities will  be created to accomodate  volume of container vans, and other cargoes. Passenger terminals along Pier 2 (Negros Navigation), Pier 4 (Aboitiz), Pier 6 and 8 (Gothong, Sweet Lines, and Moreta Shipping Lines), Pier 12 (Sulpicio Lines), and Pier 14 for William Lines were also constructed for the convenience of sea-going public.

In 1999, as a result of the increased cargo and vessel traffic, the PMO North Harbor generated gross revenues of P468.3 million or P20 million more than the 1998 revenues.

Area 430,000 sqm
Draft 6.0 meters
Berths 15 berths

Port Operators in Manila North Harbor

Port Terminal Operator Coverage

Cargo Handlers


Pier 2



Domestic cargoes/ passengers

– Containerized, break-bulk and RORO

Pier 4



Containerized, Break-bulk

Pier 6

United Dockhandlers, Inc. (UDI)


Pier 8

Pier 8 Arrastre and Stevedoring


Pier 10



Pier 12  Domestic cargoes
Pier 14


Pier 16


Pier 18

 Vitas Arrastre

Marine Slipway   (MSW)




Isla Putting Bato Arrastre


 North Harbor Statistic 
















CARGO THROUGHPUT in m.t (Domestic & Foreign)










Source: PPA /Port Statistics 

Vessel Traffic Management System

In June of 2006 marks the completion and official turn-over to Port District Office- Manila of the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS). The said project aims  to establish a system of identifying, tracking, monitoring of all marine vessel activities and to promote safer, more efficient navigation. The VTMS Project began in May of 2004 immediately with the award of the contract to F.F. Cruz/Japan Radio Co. The completed facilities, in three locations (MICT, Manila North Harbor, and Corregidor Island in Cavite City); consist of a six-story building with 42 meters structural steel tower, 18-meter cylindrical concrete structure with electronic and generator room and a 35-meter cylindrical concrete structure with three-story building at the highest.

North Harbor Privatization Project

Philippine Ports Authority award the P14.5-billion, 25-year modernization project to the sole bidder Manila North Harbour Port, Inc. (MNHPI); a joint venture between  Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) and the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) , a unit of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd. (part of the Salim Group of Indonesia) on the 19th of November 2009. Takeover will commence on February 15, 2010 or three months after the contract were signed between the parties involved.

The said project will modernize the Manila North Harbor through the operation and management of its various facilities/services by MNHPI as port operator, in a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) term arrangement with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). The project aims include among others:

  1. The development (Construction) of world class terminal facilities, including the provision of the state-of-the-art equipment, and guarantee the repair and maintenance of the said equipment and facilities without any cost to the government.

  2. To achieve the maximum level of port efficiency at the most reasonable and competitive price in the provision of port services to the port users and the general public.

  3. To allocate funds for the amortization of existing loans for North Harbor and attain/sustain reasonable return on the PPA investment in all facilities.


Scenic view of Pier 4 before its improvement

Scenic view of Pier 4 before its improvement (Year: 2011).

In June of 2012, a groundbreaking ceremony were held for the construction of the new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB); it aimed to  consolidate passenger operations within the North Harbor. The said project would also replaced the old passenger terminal building found in Pier 4, which was used to be the based of operation of former shipping giant the William Gothong, and Aboitiz Inc. (W G & A) during their merger in 1995.

Upon completion, the sprawling North Port Passenger Terminal Complex is considered the country’s most modern facility of its kind, built by Manila North Harbour Port Inc. (MNHPI); it aimed to promote safety and security, convenience and efficiency, and most especially comforts for its passengers and other port users. Designed to conform International Standards, the said terminal complex (cost around P200 million to build) is located in a 12,000-square meters complex  were a  two-story fully air-conditoned main building that houses  a 1,900 seating capacity expandable to 3,800 seating capacity.

Passenger amenities also includes a prayer room; a play room; nursing and diaper-change rooms; a clinic, and food kiosk while awaiting for boarding calls. Security equipment in the form of x-ray baggage scanners matching the norms in the airline sector are among other features. Outside the building are ticketing area/concessions,  spacious drop-offs, and parking area for motor vehicles.

Scenic view of Pier 4 after its improvement. (Year:2013)

Scenic view of Pier 4 after its improvement. (Year:2013)

After a year of construction, it held an initial soft opening on May of 2013. Five months after, on October of the same year, it was inaugurated by officers of MNHPI and government officials led by Department of Transportation Secretary Emilio Abaya.




  1. http://www.customs.gov.ph/aboutBOCPortsSubports.jsp
  2. http://www.ip3.org/pub/publication014.htm
  3. Competition Policy and Regulation in Ports and Shipping by Gilberto M. Llanto, Enrico L.  Basilio and Leilanie Basilio
  4. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPHILIPPINES/Resources/Basilio.pdf 
  5. Philippine Ports Authority/Port Statistics 
  6. http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNews.htm?f=//2009/november/20/news7.isx&d=/2009/november/20
  7.  http://www.coa.gov.ph/2000_AAR/GOCCs/PPA/PPA-PMO-NH_es00.htm
  8. http://reklamo.ph/ppa/
  9. Port of Manila and other Philippine Ports, Yearbook 1949.
  10. Philippine Ports Authority

Further reading:


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14 thoughts on “Featured Philippine Ports: The Manila North Harbor

  1. U produced several superb points in your post, “Featured Port: The Manila North
    Harbor Philippine Ship Spotters Society”.
    I am going to end up coming back to your site in the near future.
    Thank you ,Mason


    • Dear Mason,

      Thank you for visiting Pinoy Shipspotters Blog (No longer Philippine Ship Spotters Society). Should you have any question to ask, feel free to leave a message here I will be glad to answer a soon as I read it.

      Best Regards,


  2. Pingback: transport | truck | cargo

  3. What pier will i ride going to Caticlan, Kalibo or Dumaguit because I am planning to go to Boracay on April 29(Friday) or 30(Saturday)?
    Kindly e-mail me at “sam_d_ham@yahoo.com”
    Thanks! And I am hoping for you immediate reply.


  4. hi, we have a project about port (this is a new one, i think) and we need some information about the port traffic in manila, cargoes, companies, etc.. do you know who to contact about it? is it searchable on the internet? thank you very much. we badly need people’s help for this :( thank you!


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