Mt. Mani: The Lost Mountain of Metro Manila
In 1885, renowned French geographer Élisée Reclus published a map titled The Environs of Manilla, which features much of today’s Metro Manila. The map was part of a book titled, “The Universal Geography: The Earth and Its Inhabitants,” also written by Reclus and published by J.S. Virtue & Co. in 1885.
The book has been made available in the public domain through the Digitized Books collection of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Open Content Alliance.
At the time the map was published, Manila was restricted to the area within the walls of Intramuros. Much of present-day Makati, Parañaque, and Muntinlupa were either forested lands or wetlands.
But a prominent feature in The Environs of Manilla is a lonely mountain labeled by Reclus as “Mt. Mani.” Based on its position on the map, it is situated in present-day Sucat, an area near the border between Paranaque and Muntinlupa. Sucat Road was named after this area.
The Environs of Manilla (1885) by Élisée Reclus
Curiously, although Reclus was a very prolific writer and geographer (his Universal Geography consisted of 19 volumes, with an average length of 600 pages each), no mention was made of Mt. Mani apart from its label on the map.
But there is no Mt. Mani in present-day Metro Manila
That is at least, according to modern maps. Digital terrain and satellite-image maps today such as Google Maps and Google Earth offer no clues about any mountain in Metro Manila, specifically in the Sucat area.
Google Maps Terrain Layer Screenshot
Location of Mt. Mani on Élisée Reclus's Map
There is, however, a slight elevation of the terrain where the Skyway ramp on Sucat Road is located. Could this small hill be the lost mountain of Metro Manila?
According to the Paranaque Tourism Office, a 1959 map from the National Library indicated that the area has an elevation of up to 30 meters above sea level—roughly the height of a 40-storey building.
The Paranaque Tourism Office enumerated the elevation of the subdivisions around Sucat:
- San Dionisio - 2.0 meters above sea level
- SM City Sucat - 1.5 meters above sea level
- Gatchalian - 2.2 meters above sea level
- Villanueva - 3.5 meters above sea level
- SAV 2 - 3.5 meters above sea level
- DMCI Asteria Homes - 10 meters above sea level
- Greenheights - 10 meters above sea level
- Fourth Estate - 20 meters above sea level
- Goodwill - 20 meters above sea level
- Mon-El - 30 meters above sea level
- Masville - 30 meters above sea level
“Isang ebidensya ang pagtaas ng antas ng lupa sa bahagi ng Sucat, Parañaque na nagpapatunay na dating bundok ang lupaing ito,” it wrote.
(“The topographic elevation of the areas in Sucat, Paranaque suggests that this area was previously considered a mountain.”)
“Sa mapa makikita ang dulong bahagi ng Sucat bilang Bundok Mani. Ayon sa isang lathala noong 1962 ni Ruperto Valentine na pinangalanang ‘Parañaque’ para sa Philippine Economy Review. Ang Parañaque noong 1700s ay binubuo ng isang Gobernadorcillo na may 27 cabezas de barangay at isa na rito ang Sitio Bundok Mani,” it added.
(“In the map, you can see Mt. Mani in the far end of Sucat. According to Ruperto Valentine in his a 1962 report entitled ‘Paranaque’ in the Philippine Economy Review, Parañaque during the 1700s was headed by a Gobernadorcillo, who oversaw 27 barrios, one of which was Sitio Bundok Mani.”)
Mt. Mani Today
We ventured to the area where Bundok Mani or Mt. Mani is supposedly located. We ended up on the Skyway near where the Sucat ramp is located. But based on Élisée Reclus’s map and the modern political map of Parañaque, we can deduce that Mt. Mani is that elevated hill in the busy intersection on Sucat Interchange that is part of Barangay Marcelo Green, Paranaque.
Political Map of Paranaque
How Mt. Mani Looks Today
Changes in the political divisions in the Environs of Manilla have dissolved old barrios and renamed towns. Urbanization has dramatically changed the landscape, ultimately erasing a well-known mountain like Mt. Mani from the maps and from the memories of the area's inhabitants.
Reclus, Élisée. (1885). “The Universal Geography: The Earth and Its Inhabitants.” London: J.S. Virtue & Co. Retrieved on 02 February 2022 from https://libsysdigi.library.illinois.edu/oca/Books2008-08/universalgeograp/
Paranaque Tourism Office. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=421992193003571&id=113616540507806 on 02 February 2022.