Perro Loco was created as a personal space to scribble about food, travel and anything about the nook and cranny of Zamboanga and beyond. Welcome to my first attempt at blogging!
Many are afraid to come but the Queen of Spain felt at home when she visited the City. The president even went on a spiritual retreat and found peace in this bustling seaport metropolis when he ultimately decided to run for presidency last 2010 – a turning point in our political history that unfolded in the comforts of a Carmelite Monastery that stood humbly in its picturesque boulevard that gives a romantic view of the sun kissing the sea.
“Don’t you go to far Zamboanga” may be the fitting words for those who are scared, but the song echoes more the hearts of those who have fallen in love with El Ciudad Hermosa.
Ride in her waves, roll in the pink sand and swirl yourself into a riot of colors are just some of the many ways to experience Zamboanga – and there’s still more in store for everyone to do in this vibrant City at the tip of Zamboanga Peninsula.
Last September 7, 2013, a few days before the armed siege happened, Zamboanga City leveled up the ante in tourism promotion as it launched its new advertising campaign at the 24th Philippine Travel Mart at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. The latest drive is an invitation for visitors and locals alike to zoom in again and take a closer look at the many reasons, some still unknown, why people love Zamboanga and why many call it their home.
The Subanens, who are riverfolks called her Jambangan meaning “land of flowers”, others called her Orgullo de Mindanaountil recently, it was branded as Asia’s Latin City to highlight its Spanish-based Creole Chavacano and other Hispanic influences in its culture. The old Spanish fort now home to the miraculous image of Nuestra Senora La Virgen del Pilar and the National Museum are recuerdos de la presencia de España in the City’s vivid past.
The City is called by many names. Zamboanga’s titles are indeed as colorful as its history, as rich as its culture and traditions and as diverse as its people. The new ad campaign invites you to come, zoom in, and celebrate the City’s unique fusion.
ZOOM IN TO EVERY FACE
A highly urbanized city with more than 800,000 inhabitants, Zamboanga is home to native Chavacano speakers, tribes of Tausug, Yakan, Sama and Subanen as well as migrants from the neighbouring provinces of the Peninsula and Visayan islands. It is the bastion of Christianity in Mindanao when the first Catholic diocese was established in the City but Mosques and their minarets also dot the skyline including Chinese temples too that reflect a lively Filipino-Chinese community. Its multiculturalism is its identity as a City and this is evidently woven into its tapestry, food, language, and the daily bustle of people in this busy City with an international seaport and airport to welcome guests and visitors.
ZOOM IN TO NEW ADVENTURE
A visit to Zamboanga is not just about its cultural and historic attractions but you need to also pack up your things and be ready to get wet in an eco-trek to see the curtain-like cascades of the Merloquet Falls in Barangay Sibulao in the east coast of the City. The scenic falls is now becoming a popular destination flabbergasting many visitors with its pristine waters gushing down her tier while surrounded by a lush canopy of trees. Sitting with your back behind the falls for a natural water massage will surely take your stress away. But the west coast also has its own natural hidden treasure to boast of. Barangay Pamucutan offers you the majesty of their Kambal Falls in its hinterlands that is now becoming an admired picnic destination too.
Last February 2014, the City hosted the 9th Philippine Bird Festival bringing in birdwatchers from across the country and around the globe to zoom in to the wild birds of Zamboanga in their natural habitat. Checklist includes 185 species of birds with 78 endemics that can be observed by birdwatchers at the Pasonanca Natural Park and the eco-park at the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology. The barn swallows high up the wires give you an eyecathching encounter in the evening
If you love spelunking though, a Cave Summit is also underway to press for the preservation of natural caves and promote eco-tourism. The Latuan Cave in the east coast of Zamboanga City offers almost a kilometre stretch of rock formations with an underground river. But if island hopping is your thing, then you can kick off a trip to the Great Sta. Cruz Island with its famous pink sand by taking a boat from its berthing point in Paseo del Mar. The island was named as one of the top ten island paradise in the country by the travel site CNNGo with some good snorkelling sites, an old burial ground and a mangrove forest teeming with giant bats. Another adventure awaits you if you hop in to the Eleven Islands with Bolong Beach or Barangay Panubigan as your jump-off points.
You can also go on an extreme adventure by trying the zipline at the Zamboanga Economic Zone and enjoy their newly constructed waterpark and gamezone.
ZOOM IN TO EVERY COLOR
When DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez went on an official visit to the City last October 2011 when Zamboanga celebrated its grandest fiesta – the Hermosa Festival, he described Zamboanga as “the most colourful City in the Philippines” as a kaleidoscope of colors and smiles envelope him during the street dancing festivities. The annual competition converge together contingents from various schools to showcase the strong faith of Zamboanguenos to the City’s patroness.
October is also a must-experience month to be in Zamboanga because this is the time when people come in throngs at the R.T. Lim Boulevard to witness fisherfolks unfold vinta sails in a rococo of colors for the annual Regatta race.
If nature and its bounty is something that you want to zoom in, you can check the vegetable gardens and flower beds high up in La Paz or take a trip to Pasonanca Park and visit Jardin de Maria Clara that houses a flower and butterfly garden including an aviary with birds of every color and size. Other must-see sites in Pasonanca include the world-renowned Tree House that was once rented out for honeymooners and the boyscout camp that hosted national jamborees. You can also travel down Zamboanga’s history lane in its newly constructed City Museum or be amazed by the interactive exhibits at the newly opened Science Park.
You can zoom in even farther to the Climaco Freedom Park in Abong-Abong to see a World War Memorial and pay respects to Zamboanga’s most revered hero, the late Mayor Cesar C. Climaco and climb up to the scenic Way of the Cross that offers a breathtaking view of Zamboanga City and nearby island of Basilan.
ZOOM IN TO EVERY PATTERN
Her ancestors handed to her a plethora of stories and legends woven in every tapestry. A visit to Zamboanga wouldn’t be complete without zooming into intricate patterns of the Yakan Cloth woven by the tribe in their village in Calarian. Go farther and visit the Badjao Village for colorful banig of various colors and sizes done by the locals in their houses on stilts.
October is also a time for the City to showcase Zamboanga’s Mascota that features a fashion show of period dresses of women in the late 1800s. But if you want something more ethnic, head towards Barangay Canelar and check the barter trade heaving with Malong of different design variations and styles.
ZOOM IN TO EVERY FLAVOR
Zamboanga City is also branded as the “Sardines Capital of the Philippines” due the presence of more than a dozen canning factories manufacturing canned sardines and other processed seafood products for local and foreign markets. As a seaport City, it offers you a smorgasbord of the sea’s bounty bannered by the in demand deep-sea crab called Curacha. Other seafood items include fresh fish, lobster, shellfish, prawns, squid, and shrimp that are available in almost all local restaurants. Hispanic influences also made waves in its local cuisine with dishes such as Paella, Pochero, Ropa Vieja, and Callos de Andalucia became part of the mouth-watering selections.
Another local favourite is Satti that offers you skewered meat with a spicy sauce similar to the Malaysian Satay. Other must-try products include lokot-lokot, the famous Knicker Backer dessert of fruit slices topped with ice cream, and the lychee-based milkshake named Zamboanga White.
ZOOM IN TO ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES
Zamboanga as a City is indeed blessed. All you need to do is to zoom in to every color, sound, flavor, pattern, face, scent, and corner of the City and be enchanted by her many charms. Bigger things lie ahead of you when you come and visit La Bella Zamboanga. Rediscover this diadem of the Philippine South through the Perro Loco blog. I will capture each moment of discovery and will share my experience. Vamos a Zamboanga and zoom in to endless opportunities!