Welcome to Zamboanga
Otherwise known as the City of Flowers, Zamboanga City has one of the busiest ports in the island of Mindanao and in the whole country. Zamboanga's international port caters to passenger ships that ferry to other major destinations in the country like Manila, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cebu, and Davao. There are also ferries from here to Sandakan, Malaysia.
Other than being the City of Flowers, another title for the city has gained prominence and that is Asia's Latin City. This is due to the fact that the local vernacular in Zamboanga City, Chavacano, is a mix of Spanish, Cebuano, Tagalog, and other local dialects. In fact, Chavacano has more Spanish words than words in the local Filipino dialects.
A Little Brushing Up on Zamboanga City History
We can note from early Zamboanga City history that the place was already inhabited even before the Spanish era. Some of early inhabitants were the Lutao, Subanon, Samal, Bajau, Yakan, and the Tausug. These people named the territory as Samboangan, which signified a place that has many flowers. This is also the name you'll find in early Spanish maps.
In 1635, the Spanish established Fort Pilar, which was a major defense against pirates at the time. Zamboanga became Mindanao Island's capital city during World War I under the American government. Post World War I history shows a marked rise in commerce and trade for the city, which made it a trading hub in the region. The Japanese occupied Zamboanga City in March of 1942, but were evicted three years later by US and Filipino liberation forces.
Today, Zamboanga has thriving agricultural and fishing industries. Seaweed farming is becoming a strong industry here as well. Zamboanga also exports sardines to various counties in Europe, Middle East, and the Far East. The city's aquacultural based industries account for more than half of the city's economy.
Zamboanga City Weather
Zamboanga City is one of the locations in the Philippines that is typhoon free. Storms are uncommon here since the city is away from the typhoon belt area of the country. The city still experiences a dry season, which is from March to May. The city gets more rains from June to October during the wet season with temperatures cooling down to 22 degrees Celsius at times.
What to See in Zamboanga City
The list we have below are only a few places of interest when you visit the city:
Fort Pilar: This was the Spanish garrison that served as the territory's protection from local pirates. Today, it serves as a shrine to Our Lady of the Pillar. There are relics here from Spanish antiquity reflecting the life back in those days.
Pasonanca Park: The construction of this park started in 1912. This is a beautiful park with a tree house on a huge tree while a gentle stream traverses the whole place.
Zamboanga Golf Course: This is probably the oldest golf course in the country, which was established during the American colonial period. It has a beautiful view of the Basilan Strait and a swimming resort.
Yakan Weaving Center: This center hosts the local Yakan community where they intricately weave clothes on giant looms.
Santa Cruz Islands: This is the place to go for white sand beaches. There is also a lagoon and a dive site for those who would love an undersea adventure.
Where to Eat in Zamboanga City
You'll find a lot of dining options here in Zamboanga City. The malls usually house restaurants and fastfood chains but you'll also find establishments everywhere else. For instance, Z-Beryani Persian Cuisine is in the Nunez Midtown Plaza, Hay Sun Restaurant is on San Jose Street, A Taste of Asia is along Veterans Avenue, while Food Paradise is on Climaco Avenue. Average meal prices will be less than $10 but if you go for a splurge then prepare about $20 per meal.
Where to Stay in Zamboanga City
You have a wide range of options when looking for a place to stay in Zamboanga City. A lot of the hotels and inns will be along the road, particularly the road heading to the airport. If you're looking for a business class hotel, then the Garden Orchid Hotel may suit your taste. Rooms here are spacious and are equipped with modern amenities.
If you're looking for a place that is a bit secluded then the Lantaka Hotel is another option. This hotel is located near the seashore and is close to the old Spanish area. The place has a beautiful setting, which is nostalgic of colonial times.
One final note is that you should expect room rates to vary. Rates can go as low as less than $20 and it can go up to more than $100. Enjoy your stay, the view, and the colonial ambience in the Latin city that is Zamboanga.
Zamboanga is one of the fastest growing and most robust cities, not just in Mindanao but also in the entire Philippines. About an hour’s plane ride away from Cebu and 90 minutes by air travel away from Manila, it is the perfect choice for tourists, both local and foreign alike as it offers something for everyone.
The city is encompassed by 28 islands and the waters surrounding them (Sulu Sea on the west and flanked by the Moro Gulf to the east) are some of the most beautiful in the world. Not only is the pristine sea ideal for swimming and snorkeling, but the marine life and fauna are truly unique. The Santa Cruz Islands, in particular, is renowned for its myriad types of corals, fish and shells, several of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
When it comes to beaches, there is no shortage of places to choose from. One can go to Bolong in La Vista del Mar; there are also fine beaches in Sta. Cruz Island. For those who prefer to have some recreational activity as well, the Zamboanga Golf Course and Each Resort, located in Calarian is perfect.
Historical landmarks abound in Zamboanga. There is Fort Pilar; formerly a garrison it has now become a tourist spot as people from all over the world now visit its various attractions, including the shrine and the national museum. Pettit Barracks, which was the headquarters of the U.S. Armed forces following their occupation of the city in 1899. For three years (1942-45) it was held by the Japanese until it was recovered by the U.S. military on March 10 1945.
Other places of interest include Pasonanca Park, where the convention centers like the Regency Astoria is located as well as the Zamboanga Convention Center; the Assemblyman Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Complex is one of the best sports centers in the Philippines and hosted the Palarong Pambansa in 1992.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is one of the finest cathedrals in all of Mindanao. Taluksangay Village is another site worth checking out. The area is primarily inhabited by Muslims and is perhaps best known for its beautiful mosque.
Situated right at the southernmost part of the Zamboanaga Peninsula, Zamboanaga City is known by a variety of names such as the Pride of Mindanao, the Latin City of Asia, and most famously as the City of Flowers. By whatever name it is called, they all express the same sentiment: it is the city to visit for rest, fun and recreation.