When questioned about our favorite local attractions, Zamboanga City is always on the list. And almost invariably, we get a one-word, genuinely curious follow-up query: “Why? ”
I can count on one hand the number of my friends who have visited this region of Mindanao. How about Zamboanga, though? Why ought you to go? Zamboanga City is one of the largest metropolitan centers in the Philippines in terms of geographical area (and population), and it is teeming with sights worth the trip.
The travel industry in Zamboanga City has grown rapidly in recent years. After all, it serves as the main gateway for Region IX. It’s becoming easier to plan tours. The city has been relentlessly marketed, especially since the travel restrictions have been relaxed. The islands and beaches are where most people go, but the local food scene is also progressively bringing in more tourists.
The team has already made five trips to Asia’s Latin City, yet each time we felt like there was still more to see and learn about! Cebu Pacific, AirAsia and Philippine Airlines which now operates daily flights to Zamboanga, gave us a tour of the city during our most recent visit, allowing us to experience several sights for the first time.
Pasonanca Park & Scout Limbaga Campsite
The Pasonanca Park, which was made accessible to the public in the 1910s, is another green area for nature enthusiasts and anyone looking for a short break from the considerably busier city center. Camp Limbaga (Scout Limbaga Campsite) is located there, along with a convention center, an amphitheater, an aviary, a floral garden and butterfly sanctuary, and three public swimming pools: an Olympic-size pool, a kiddie pool, and a natural pool.
The Pasonanca Treehouse is unquestionably the most well-known site. It was initially erected in 1960 to function as the Youth Citizenship Training Center. Today, visitors mainly come to this location to snap pictures, but if you want to stay longer, you can also rent the treehouse! To cooperate, be sure to speak with the LGU’s administrator first. The restaurants, shops, and BBQ booths on the side streets sell food that you can purchase while traveling.
Climaco Freedom Park
The Climaco Freedom Park, formerly known as Abong-Abong Park, is located about seven kilometers north of the city’s core. is named for the late Zamboanga City Mayor Cesar Climaco, a beloved local figure who was killed in a 1984 assassination. His ultimate resting place is in the park.
One of the growing tourist destinations, the freedom park draws visitors of all ages who adore the outdoors on the weekends. It includes a garden, Chrislam Pool, Heroes Hill, the Holy Hill, which serves as the summit of the Stations of the Cross climb, a Boy Scout and Girl Scout camp, and a campsite.
Swimming, hiking, trekking, biking, having a picnic, and going on a spiritual retreat are just a few of the things you can do here.
Fort Pilar Museum and Shrine
Fort Pilar, also known as Fortaleza del Pilar, was built in the 17th century and was first used as a Spanish military defense stronghold. Today, this fortified bastion is a significant historical site in the city. The fort underwent renovations and is constantly maintained by the city after being designated as a National Cultural Treasure in 1973.
It holds an outdoor Marian shrine from the 18th century called “Our Lady of the Pillar,” which has an altar and stone benches for worshippers to sit on and pray. For the normal liturgy on Sundays, monoblock chairs are scattered throughout the space.
The Mangroves Boat Tour (Sta. Cruz Grande Island)
Despite Grande Santa Cruz Island’s pink brightness, which seduces, its beauty is deeper than that. It also holds a treasure trove of natural marvels. A lagoon covered in mangroves may be found on the other side of the island, where it nurtures species and fosters biodiversity.
Actually, the lagoon dominates the entire island, taking up the majority of its surface. Taking a narrated boat excursion is the greatest way to discover it. A guide will take you to various locations while your boatman paddles in order to highlight the significance of protecting this property. You’ll meet jellyfish that are upside down and discover the different sorts of mangroves. They are not at all hazardous, so don’t get alarmed. They hardly have any stings. But just don’t remove them from the water.
Inform the boatmen who transported you to Pink Beach that you want to take a lagoon boat tour. They’ll lead you to a little settlement close to the lagoon’s entrance. You will have to pay an extra P200 for this transfer.
The vinta is a typical outrigger boat found across Mindanao, particularly in the southern part of the island, the Sulu archipelago, and the Zamboanga peninsula. It is renowned for its vibrantly colored rhombic sail, which brightens the Sulu Sea’s waters.
In terms of the local population’s economics, trade, and transportation, the vinta is crucial. It has a history of being a fishing boat. Today, it also functions as a means of transit for passengers, a ship for carrying cargo, and a tourist attraction.
You can rent a vinta in any of the barangays along the city’s coasts or on Grande Santa Cruz Island if you want to experience rowing or riding one.
Sandbar and Little Sta Cruz Island
Little Santa Cruz Island, which is located off the coast of the Zamboanga peninsula and is situated northwest of Santa Cruz Grande Island, is like a little oasis. The sandbar that trails off the island’s easternmost point is its most identifiable feature.
The island is made up of a mixture of corals and small, shattered shells despite having a reasonable beach border. There are tiny lagoons, but visitors are not permitted to wander past the sandbar. The majority of the surrounding waters are deep, covered in seagrass, and not advised for leisurely swimming.
Only ten minutes are allotted for visitors to stay here. But a detour will set you back P200 more if you truly want to stop here.
Zamboanga’s Travel Activities
- Zamboanga Hermosa Festival
- Taluksangay Mosque
- Merloquet Falls
- Learn Chavacano
Because of its significant Hispanic population, Zamboanga is frequently referred to as Asia’s Latin City. The only Spanish-based creole in Asia, Chavacano (or Chabacano), is where it is most noticeable. It sounds like a mashup of Spanish and the regional tongues, and it’s really fascinating!
While in Zamboanga, why not pick up some Chavacano? Begin by learning the fundamentals, such as salutations and phrases you can use in the city. Additionally, it is a great way to meet the locals and discover more about their culture.
- Welcome! = Bienvenidos!
- Thank you very much. = Muchisimas Gracias.
- Good morning! = Buenas Dias!
- Good afternoon! = Buenas Tardes!
- Good evening! = Buenas Noches!
- I’m sorry. – Perdona mi
- How much is this? – Cuanto esté?
Suggested Reading: TRAVEL TIPS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Make sure you are well-prepared for your excursion. Zamboanga has a lot to offer tourists. Utilizing travel insurance to create a safety net for your journey and allow you to completely explore everything without concern is one way to be prepared.