Monday, December 10, 2007


The one and only Latin City of Southeast Asia – mainly because they speak a language derived from Spanish called “Chavacano”, a Spanish Creole language spoken by over a million people.

A Hispanic city where Christian churches and Muslim mosques stands side by side; where businesses are Chinese monopoly and a city lay-out that dates back to Spanish times.

If not because of the Americans, Zamboanga could have been another Southeast Asian country. This city used to be the capital on the short-lived Republic of Zamboanga when Spain handed over the Philippines to the Americans. Zamboanga became a chartered city in 1936.

This is a port city, the commercial center of the south-western part of Mindanao Island. It is closer to Manado (Indonesia) and Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia) than Manila which explains the closer commercial ties to these neighboring cities.

Get a load of this…Here is where you will see cars with speedometers on the right-hand side and the steering wheel is on the left-hand side! I was in awe. Totally speechless. All I can say was – “Dude!”… then I went silent. These are cars from Malaysia and converted to left-hand driving, leaving the meters on the right. Amazing ingenuity!

What to do here? Well, Zamboanga is a destination for tourists with culture and loves the sea. The waters of Zamboanga Peninsula are among the best diving sites in this part of the Philippines. You can meet sea gypsies like the Samal or Badjao people – they can be really friendly, mind you. Santa Cruz Island is the jewel of the crown. Serene, unspoiled and long stretches of pink sand beaches.

Lim Boulevard is the site of colorful regattas. Zamboanga’s premiere icon is the “Vinta” -- A kind of boat with really colorful sails and distinctly Zamboangan. We came off season and staying for just a short while so, we won’t see this amazing spectacle which happens in October.

Don’t expect much. Shopping-wise, nothing extraordinary except if you really fancy batik fabrics. No taxis *no laughing please*, no massive malls like we see in other Philippine cities either. But they do have McDonalds so, everything will be just fine. Ha!

Zamboanga City is the backdoor of the Philippines. You can reach Malaysia from here by boat (Fastcrafts) to Sandakan. If you’re coming from Manila, it’s about 1 hr 50 mins flight. From Cebu is about an hour.

What makes this city charmingly special is the fact that it is not following the “hurried” urbanization like other Philippine cities. Like the cities of Europe, Zamboangueños chose to keep the cultural façade, simplicity and laid-back charm of this enchanting city.


Zamboanga City’s Official website.


Hanifa said...

You know what? I remember this place from my grandparents. I guess this city must be famous in the 40's or 60's. Oh, by the way, for those who don't know me...I'm Malaysian from Sabah.

Amelia Koenigsberg said...

Those boats that you were referring to are familiar icon in Spain. There are reastaurants displaying this and companies with the same name. There is also a Calle de Zamboanga somewhere there. Interesting to note.

Erick Lau said...

I would not have heard of these places if not for BISEAN. Thank you guys for familiarizing us with new destinations. I just simply love you <3

Daniel N. said...

Whoah! Really? It could have been a republic? Interesting! I'll reasearch more.

Q The Conqueror said...

Hola. OMG It's Tetuan Church! Hehe. Never thought to see it here. :)

Do you know the native song there?

Zamboanga Hermosa Preciosa Perlita,
Orgullo de Mindanao.

And so on and so forth. :P I hope you had a great time there. Hehe.

Sofia for BiSEAN said...

Hello Q...I think Pisanu forgot to mention how you helped us in Zamboanga City.

Let me be the one to thnak you on this blog, sweetie. I just luuurrrrvvvv you, honey. Q the Conqueror -- the darling from Zamboanga.

Such a nice guy. <3

Jake Tornado said...

Q, I thought you were from Manila?

Q The Conqueror said...

@Sofia - Your welcome :) It was no problem at all. :)

@jake - I study in Manila, hehehe. But I'm Zamboangueno born and bred. :)

curbside_puppet said...

one of my late grand dad's from zamboanga.
thanks for featuring this city!
FYI, there are numerous inter-regional Ilokano and Chavacana marriages in Zamboanga in the early half of the 20th century.
Ilokano soldiers got married to mestiza Chavacanas.
My maternal grandfather was a product of one.

chase said...

he is one tough mayor.. hope our mayor is the same. hehe

aries said...

i have worked with the chavacanos for about a year... a lot of them are meztizos. really nice people too

Brent a.k.a. yourkidatheart said...

Made me nostalgic... I suddenly missed Dad's hometown and my cousins there... Wish I could see Fort del Pilar again.

Note to self: Must visit Chavacano relatives this year.

MischMensch said...

@hanifa, Apa khabar? Saya pun orang Malaysia!!! Wohoo Malaysia Boleh!!

juan said...

Nice spot in promoting Zamboanga City! Visit as well! See yah!

Lawrence said...

@Daniel N... Yeah, it could've been a republic.

Actually, there were several short-lived republics in the Philippines, the Republic of Negros, the Republic of Malolos, just to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Hello Bisean,
Perhaps you can add Iloilo City in your travel plans.

Hola said...

greetings from Zamboanga! You can get more info, updates from zamboanga through Gracias!

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