History and Culture
10 Reasons to Love Zamboanga: Beauty Beyond Conflict
Ulysses John Almocera | Apr 27, 2016
October is the best month to visit Zamboanga City. Zamboanguenios celebrate the Hermosa Festival which is the feast of the Nuestra Seniora la Virgen Del Pilar. Much awaited events such as the vinta regatta, mascotta fashion show and other activities are lined up during the month of October. But for tourists who have booked their tickets some other month, these are the spots you can visit and the other things you can do on an ordinary day in Zamboanga City.
- Sta Cruz Island
PINK SAND! How cool is that? Sta Cruz Island is the most popular tourist spot in the Zamboanga Peninsula because of its fine white sand with a pink blush which becomes more noticeable when wet. Accessible form a port in Paseo del Mar, a 20 minute boat ride is all you need to get to the island. Earliest trip is at seven in the morning. You can bask under the sun, swim on turquoise waters and beach bum on the beach until two o’clock in the afternoon. Each boat costs 1,000 pesos which can be shared by up to ten people.
2. Yakan Village
The Yakan is an ethnic tribe from the island of Basilan. Intricate patterns on their colorful weaves have drawn attention from all over the country. Witness Yakan women manually weave cloth in a small village in Barangay Sinunuc, Zamboanga City. Different pieces are priced according to size and intricacy of weaves. For the culturally savvy, you may want to bring extra money for the more priced weaves which can cost as high as 3,000 pesos per meter. Pasalubong items are also available ranging from 30-600 pesos.
3. Sunset at RT Lim boulevard
RT Lim boulevard is a popular tambayan for Zamboanguenios in the afternoon specially for the college students. Fitness buffs jog and exercise around the area during early mornings and late afternoons. I personally love watching colorful sunsets in the boulevard while eating balut and fried street food.
The boss of all desserts in Zamboanga is the knickerbocker glory which is made of sliced fruits (mango, watermelon and bananas), gelatin, vanilla ice cream and strawberry ice cream. Warning: this dessert is very addictive. The original knickerbocker in Zamboanga is from Palmeras Restaurant in Sta Maria, Zamboanga City. They opened a branch in Paseo del Mar and each large serving costs only 65 pesos. There are also other restaurants which sells different takes on the knickerbocker. Which recipe is the best? Try each one of them and you will not be disappointed.
5. Fountain at Paseo del Mar
Paseo del Mar is a complex of restaurant stalls aligned at the sea side. The place comes alive at night with beautifully lit lamp posts similar of those in Roxas Boulevard. One of the main attractions of Paseo del Mar is the Musically Gyrating Dancing Fountain. Show starts at 7pm and ends at 9pm. A 10 peso fee is collected if you want to have seats near the fountain but it is pretty much visible from the outside.
The spanner crab or curacha is one of the must eats in Zamboanga. What looks like a crossbreed between a crab and a lobster is a popular delicacy in Zamboanga. It is best served with Alavar sauce which is a popular curry tasting sauce that is also great as pasalubong. You can enjoy the curacha and Alavar sauce at Alavar Restaurant in Tetuan, Zamboanga City and Paseo del Mar.
Influenced by the nearby islands, a lot of food in Zamboanga are extremely spicy but very satisfying. Satti is hanging rice (puso in Visayan dialect) and beef or chicken barbeque smothered with a lot of red sauce made from turmeric, and spices. This is a popular breakfast choice and a remedy for hang overs of locals. Restaurants that serve satti opens early I the morning, start your day with a kick of spices!
8. Merloquet Falls
Merloquet is a three tier waterfall located in Barangay Sibulao, Zamboanga City. Traveling to the falls takes two and a half hours. Merloquet is known for its curtain like cascades.
9. Visit Fort Pilar shrine and Museum
Fort Pilar is a 17th-century military defense fortress built by the Spanish colonial government in Zamboanga City. A Marian shrine is located on one of the outer corners of the fort. Devotees can light candles of different colors for their varied intentions and prayers. The Fort Pilar Museum is open from Monday to Friday during office hours. The Museum is closed for renovation but management allows people to roam around the courtyard for free. Pigeons flock outside the shrine and tourists can feed the birds for Milan-like photos.
Canelar Barter Center will give you the best value for your buck. Imported goods from nearby Malaysia and Indonesia can be bought at cheaper prices here. Chocolates, noodles, coffee, clothes and the malong are popular pasalubong items. Stores open at eight in the morning and closes at five in the afternoon. Just make sure that you have extra baggage allowance on your return flight, tourist usually go on an impulsive shopping spree at the Barter Trade Center.
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