Featured Port: The Manila South Harbor


Pier 15 South Harbor



Being a maritime nation, sea transport is the major means of moving various goods and people from one Island province to another. Majority of products and materials exported and imported to and from this country comes thru maritime exchanges. The transformation of Port of Manila from being the important trading country during Galleon Trade, to “Trade center of the Pacific” before World War II has been very significant in the eyes of experts. 

Today Manila Port’s South Harbor is the Philippines foremost gateway to International Commerce and one of the Maritime hub in Asia-Pacific region (And was envisioned to be the alternative maritime center to Hong kong and Singapore).

Port Distance in Nautical Miles.

Iloilo City 340
Cebu City 392
Surigao City 459
Cagayan de Oro City 504
Davao City 821
Hong Kong SAR 637
Singapore 1,310
Japan 1,783

The Port of Manila is divided by the following sectors, namely:

  1. South Harbor (Baseport)
  2. North Harbor (Baseport)
  3. Manila International Container Terminal (MICT)
  4. Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) 


The above listed Port Terminals which comprised the core of The Ports of Manila, and is administered and/or sanctioned by the Philippine Ports Authority, a state owned corporation duly authorized by the law to develop and manage public ports, regulate port services, selection of port operators, and determination of collection levies for port related services [1].


I.  SOUTH HARBOR (Baseport)

The Manila South Harbor is a multi-cargo Port with modern five-finger type pier, which serves as an important international and local shipping facility for the Philippines and the Southeast Asian region. South Harbor handles large chunks of International shipping traffic in the country, with annual capacity of 820,000 Twenty- foot equivalent units.


Port Management of South Harbor (PMO-South Harbor) is under the direct management of the Port District of Manila(PDO-Manila/North Luzon). Whereas, Terminal Management Office of Pasig (TMO-Pasig) located along the Pasig River a tributary of Manila Bay, falls under the Jurisdiction of PMO South Harbor.



Location:  South of Manila Harbor


Latitude – 14° 36.2″ N

Longitude – 120° 58.0″ E


Port Vehicular/Pedestrian access

Main approach is through Bonifacio Drive, a six (6) lane divided and concrete pave road with access to North harbor in Tondo, Manila and Cities in the South like Pasay, Paranaque and Cavite City via Roxas Boulevard. Entrance to the Harbor is through the four gates at 25th street (Eva Macapagal Super Terminal, gate 1), 16th street, 13th street (Roberto S. Oca Sr. gate), and 8th street.


Port  Characteristics

Territorial Area:  South Harbor has been extended eastward up to Bonifacio Drive, by virtue of Executive Order No. 321 issued last March 17, 1988 [2]. The expansion resulted in an increased of jurisdictional area by about 26.9 hectares from 58 hectares for a total of 85 hectares excluding wharf zone. Its shoreline is protected by some 10,000 feet of rock barriers enclosing about 600 hectares of anchorage.

Harbor Type:  Coastal Breakwater

Harbor Sized:  Large

Water Depth:

CHANNEL 31 – 35 feet
  9.4 – 10 meters
ANCHORAGE 16 – 20 feet
  4.9 – 6.1 meters
CARGO PIER 36 – 40 feet
  11 – 12.2 meters
OIL TERMINAL 26 – 30 feet
  7.1 – 9.1 meters

SOURCE: World Port Source [3].


Port Topography

South Harbor directly faces the Manila Bay, the Southwestern part of which is narrow and connected with South China Sea through the North and South channels of Corregidor and Caballo Islands, approximately 45 kilometers from the estuary of the Pasig River. The Bay is surrounded by the Bataan Peninsula to the West and Cavite Province to the South [4].


Entrance Channel


The fairway (navigational channel of South Harbor) is about 200 meters wide and 3,000 meters long. It runs through an opening about 300 meters wide between the South and West breakwaters. The depth of the channel is approximately 11.6 meters below mean low water (MLW) or deeper along its full length [4].


Port Facilities


There are five finger piers (numbered 3, 5, 9, 13, and 15) that extend from southeastward to the Northern side of South Harbor, with a total of 27 berth and 15 anchorage points capable of handling up to 60,000 DWT and has distinct terminal for container, general stevedoring, domestic passenger, and freight operation.


Port details [5]:

Pier 3: For container vessel only with five (5) berths

Pier 5: For container and general cargo vessel with seven (7) berths

Pier 9: For general cargo vessel with five (5) berths

Pier 13: For general cargo vessel with five (5) berths

Pier 15: For Inter-Island passenger ferry with five (5) berths


Between Pier 3 and Pier 5 is a beaching point where amphibious vessel docks. Across Pier 3 is a barge pool capable of accommodating 30 barges/lighters at any given time.

Barging operation transport cargoes from vessel moored/anchored at the South Harbor to several manufacturing establishment found along Pasig river banks. This barges and/or lighters are commonly used as main carriage of liquid bulk like fuel, oil, chemicals, molasses, as well as wheat and other agricultural raw products. Most often this barges are towed by tugboats (few are self-propelled) several kilometers upstream [6].

South Harbor container terminal in Pier 5 has 18.2 hectares of container yard space contains modern container handling facilities.

Pier 13 ( Former owned and operated by United States Government for the exclusive used of US Army and US Navy Vessel during Post War era) is now currently assigned as special anchorage areas for Government vessel particularly Philippine Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) vessel, as well as the “Ang Pangulo“, a then former Presidential Yacht (Now assigned as BRP Pag-asa a Navy Auxilliary vesssel). A roll-on roll-off ramp can also be found in between Pier 13 and Pier 9. 

Ferry Service Terminal on the other hand is located at slip between Pier 13 and Pier 15. It serve as landing point for small craft for ship crew, quarantine and custom officer, ship agents, and other passenger going to and from vessel at anchorage. A pilot boarding station for South Harbor is also located in this area [6].

Pier 15 is considered alternative venue for domestic operation (while North Harbor is presently being developed). The new Eva Macapagal Super Terminal or popularly known as the home of Superferry is named after the then late first lady of former President Diosdado Macapagal, is a product of modernization program of South Harbor. This passenger terminal is one of the country’s newest, biggest, and most expensive passenger terminal with high-tech facility and first class amenities that caters mainly for Inter-Island traffic.

The Eva Macapagal Super Terminal is a 2,878 square meters facility consists of 1,700 seating capacity, with fully air-conditioned lounge complete with food and beverage kiosk for hungry passengers waiting for boarding calls of Aboitiz Transport System’s Superferry vessel. TV sets, public address system, public telephone booths, clean rest rooms, ticketing booths and a clinic with qualified medical personnel is also provided for the convenience of travelling public [7].



Asian Terminals Incorporated (controlled by Dubai’s DP World) a premier seaport and logistic investor, developer and operator in the Philippines are the sole container terminal and multi-cargo Port Operator for the South Harbor.

Contracted by Philippine Ports Authority to render container/cargo handling services since 1992, ATI has been awarded a new 25 year extension to its contract to “manage, develop, maintain, operate and render container terminal handling, stevedoring, arrastre, storage, porterage, passenger terminal management and other related services at the South Harbor until May 18, 2038” [8].

This company utilizes seven (7) Quay cranes (35.5 to 55 tons capacity), nineteen (19) Rubber Tired Gantry Cranes (40 to 40.6 tons capacity), Three (3) Reachstackers (42 to 45 tons capacity), sideloaders, floating crane among others.

Facilities includes; six (6) International container berth (Pier 3 and 5) with total area of 5,000 sq. meters. Nine (9) general cargo berths (Pier 5 and 9) and one (1) domestic cargo/passenger terminal (Pier 15).


South Harbor Cargo/Passenger/Vessel 2008 Statistics


Particulars At Berth At Anchorage
Domestic 730 1
Foreign 1,443 412
Total 2,173 413



Particulars At Berth At Anchorage
Domestic 6,220,107 3,088
Foreign 19,724,977 5,080,412
Total 25,945,084 5,083,500


Cargo Throughput (metric tons):

Particulars At Berth At Anchorage
Domestic 1,538,011 0
Inbound 631,136 0
Outbound 906,875 0
Foreign 5,286,470 516,212
Imports 4,974,761 516,212
Exports 311,709 0
Total 6,829,470 516,212


Passenger Traffic:

Domestic 1,249,778
Dis-embarked 647,006
Embarked 602,772
Foreign 21,172
Dis-embarked 10,586
Embarked 10,586
Total 1,270,950

Source: @ppa.com.ph/port statistics [9].


Port History

Pre-World War II

The development of Philippine trade by Spanish regime ended upon the American occupations. In succeeding years of Commonwealth Government, Manila was open to foreign trade with freer and more liberal economic system thereby increasing the domestic and foreign trade traffic.

Trade under the American administration was prosperous. Manila then enjoyed one of the most flourishing trades in the Orient. Overseas commerce steadily increased with United States represent as major trading country.

And to be able to meet the demand for large cargo and berthing space that can accommodate ocean going vessel, construction of South harbor Pier started in 1937. It was later on discontinued at the outbreak of World War 2.

Prior to the war, South harbor had four finger piers and a marginal wharf for  Ocean going vessel  of deep drafts. One of these piers was considered during that time as “One of the finest in the world and the longest in the far east” [10].


Shipping Facilities of South harbor during pre-war period includes:

Manila harbor comprises an anchorage area of about 1,250 acres of the Manila bay partially enclosed and well protected by a rock-breakwater wall.

Pier 1 is exclusively owned and operated by the United States Government for the exclusive use of Army and Navy Vessels. Whereas the harbors, piers, wharves, and equipment installed at ports are owned, administered, and controlled by the commonwealth government thru Manila Harbor board.


Piers 3, 5 and 7 complete with modern cargo-handling equipment (consist of electric heavy lift crane, interior electric hoist, electric tractor) as well as piped provision for fresh water and bunker fuel oil are both available for Cargo/Passenger carrying vessel [11].


The aftermath of World War II

During early stage of the war, this harbor installations particularly the south harbor are subject to intense bombing raids by Japanese invasion forces, and later by the U.S Liberation forces.

At the end of the war sunken vessels littered the entire harbor. Many of the port facilities suffered extensive damages rendering them almost un-useable to shipping activities.

Immediately after the liberation of the entire country, the commonwealth government started the repair and clearing works for Manila harbor particularly the South harbor facilities. Under Rehabilitation Act of 1946 (Public Law 370, passed by US Congress), funds were allocated for the rehabilitation for Port of Manila under supervision of a branch of the U.S. Corps of Engineer who undertakes all phase of the work in consultation with the Philippine Port Commission.

Obstructions to navigation along Manila bay leading to this pier were removed, and dredge works along the channel particularly near the mouth of Pasig River was conducted by the U.S. Army and U.S Navy [12].



1. Philippine Ports Authority

2.  Executive Order No. 321


4.   http://www.ppa.com.ph/South%20Harbor/south_aboutUs_southHarbor.htm

5.  http://www.supermanning.com/Manila.htm

6.  Philippine Ports: Gateway to Maritime Trade 2004.

7. Eva Macapagal Super Terminal

8. ATI extend cargo handling… Manila Bulletin (10/20/07)

9. Philippine Port Authority/Port Statistics

10. Port of Manila and other Philippine Ports. Yearbook 1949.

11.  Port of Manila: Trade Center of the Pacific, Yearbook 1939.

12. Port of Manila and other Philippine Ports, Yearbook 1949.


Further reading: Competition Policy and Regulation in Ports and Shipping, Philippine Institute of Development Studies by Gilberto M. Llanto et. al


Related Topics posted by this author:

1. Featured Philippine Ports:  TMO-Pasig

2. Featured Philippine Ports: PMO-Dumaguete

3.  Pasig River Ferry

4. Featured Philippine Ports: Port of Calapan City by wiizardhp1011.

About these ads

10 Responses to “Featured Port: The Manila South Harbor”

  1. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to
    take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
    . Anyways, fantastic site!

    Like this

  2. I am in fact delighted to read this website posts which contains lots of valuable data, thanks for providing these statistics.

    Like this

  3. Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get
    home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .
    . Anyways, good blog!

    Like this

  4. Hi there! I simply want to give an enormous thumbs up for the good data you will
    have here on this post. I shall be coming again to your weblog for extra

    Like this

  5. travel visa manila…

    [...]Featured Port: The Manila South Harbor « Philippine Ship Spotters Society[...]…

    Like this

  6. 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.

    Like this

    • Pier 8 of North Harbor. There are two Shipping Companies that caters Manila-Dumaguit route, you may check Romblon Shipping and Moreta Shipping.

      Like this

  7. [...] Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Featured Ports: PMO South Harbor [...]

    Like this

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers