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Zamboanga City Tourism Complex

It was a wish came true visiting the last Latin City of Asia, Zamboanga.  I have only heard of the historical city on books, magazines and on television.
Zamboanga Airport
Taking a flight from Davao's Francisco Bangoy International Airport, I arrived at the City at 8:45 am. Alighted from the plane I was greeted by this unique airport structure that is authentic Zamboanga. From the airport   I hit the city via a local jeepney going to their Pueblo or the central city.

Tower of the City Hall
The first landmark that astonished me was their city hall. It was a relic building that projects the Spanish influence on architecture and design. The building has walls made of stones that would make you feel like living in the Spanish era.

As a first time visitor and traveling alone, I inquired the whereabouts of the city tourism office at the police officers at the entrance of the building. I was directed to the Cultural Heritage Complex along Paseo del Mar just right after the famous Lantaka Hotel. He suggested that I took the jeepney or tricycle but I chose to walk to make myself familiar with the streets of the city. 

Strolling along Valderosa Street I saw some establishments retain the deep rooted conventional Spanish design of their places. One in particular is the Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) which had their building remain the same for the past decades.

Reaching  Paseo del Mar, I saw the huge building of  Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas with external architecture patterned with the design of the heritage complex. Across the BSP stands the city tourism office. It is a small bricked building at the entrance of the Plaza del Mar.

Tourism officer Ms. Charita Sebastian welcomed me and inquired on the nature of my trip in their place. I told her that I am just a wanderer and wished to know more of the legendary city. She gave me some advises where to stay and places to visit in the complex. She even gave me a Handybook- Chabacano de Zamboanga as guide to the local dialect of the city. After a few minutes of chatting, I head on to my first stop of my city tour.

Plaza del Pilar

Just across the street from Paseo del Mar is the Plaza del Pilar. It was a congregation of business establishments from various souvenir items to different food selections. Since it was almost noon during my visit I took a moment to scout the food stands. With prices ranging from Php 45-75 per viand I took a table and order for something to eat. Coffee shops are available also in the vicinity. If nature calls, they have the well maintained restroom facility , just pay Php 5.00 before using it.

Fort Pilar

Not far from the City Tourism Office, a relic of a fortress stands known as Fort Pilar. The fortress was founded by Gov. Cerezo de Salamanca and constructed by Jesuit Father Melchor de Vera on June 23, 1635 and originally named as Real Fuerza de San Jose.This fortress is in the care of the Philippine National Museum. Entrance fee is Php 20.00.It may not be as big as  Intramuros in Manila but it is bigger than Fort San Pedro in Cebu.  
The entry point is guarded by heavy coral made walls that had protected the occupants from bloody battles during its previous history. The place has been preserved and well maintained. I was the lone guest during my visit. I walked over the middle of the fortress and accommodated by this empty garrison covered with red bricks with a stage at the middle. It is surrounded by four heavy thick walls on which some parts are under development, though repair has not tarnished the authenticity of the ruins. 

The fortress has baluarte where guards /soldiers post for look out against enemies and very much similar to the baluartes of Intramuros. Standing at the top you can see the stretch of the Sulu Sea which is a strategic position to see all incoming enemies by the ocean or and other islands.

Yakan and Subanun Exhibit

Love Mindanao w/  Eufemia, Susan and Hope (Nat'l Museum-Zambo)
At the right side of the fort lies the Subanun Exhibit. Foot wears are left at the bottom of the wooden staircase. The second floor was converted into a museum showcasing collections of relics that represent  Zamboanga City and the history that had been part of it. From old traditional clothes of different generation of tribes, fishing tools, vases, plates and even a large colorful vinta is displayed grandiosely as centerpiece in the museum.

At the end of my excursion, I was greeted by the personnel of the National Museum and had a little chat. At the end of our conversation they gave me brochures and friendly personal tips on places to see in the city taking consideration on my limited time.

Our Lady of Pillar Shrine

Just outside of the fortress, Our Lady of Pillar shrine was built adjacent to the wall of the fortress facing the ocean.  The shrine is wide open to its Christian patrons; visiting, lighting some candles and praying. Stone benches are placed artistically around the altar like an amphitheater. According to some locals masses are held here only during special occasions.

Paseo del Mar

This is a newly constructed park adjacent to the cultural heritage park of the city. Various resto establishments accentuated the area with over looking Pink Beach of Sta. Cruz Island. The dancing fountain was the new accessory of the park that was inaugurated formally on March 2012 and I was a lucky individual to be invited by the tourism office to witness and  be part of its opening.
At night the place is a crowd favorite for friends and families' hangout to eat on restaurants of their choice. Drinking beer is also allowed while listening to some performing local bands.

Plaza Pershing
This park is located at the heart of the city and almost fronting the city hall. It is known as ‘tambayan ng bayan’ or common city park. It was named after an American General who fought in Jolo in 1913 during the Philippine-American war. His name was John Pershing.

After a tiring day tour in the city i wander for a cafe to relax my cramping legs and saw this cool "tambayan" cafe along Valderosa St - Tsokolate.

Where to Stay in the City?
Here are some of the Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited hotels and resorts in Zamboanga:

Garden orchid Hotel
Gov. Camins Avenue
(062) 991-0031 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-0031      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Grand Astoria Hotel
Mayor Jaidon St.
(062) 991-2510 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-2510      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Lantaka Hotel
Valderosa St.
(062) 991-2033 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-2033      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Skypark Hotel
German Tower cor.urdaneta & T. Claudio
(062) 992-0951 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 992-0951      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Marcian Garden Hotel
Gov. Camins Avenue
(062) 991-2519 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-2519      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
La Vista del Mar Beach Resort
Upper Calarian
(062) 991-1208 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-1208      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Jardin dela Vina
Fidela Bldg. Gov. Alvarez Ave.
(062) 9917808 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 9917808      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel
Sta. Maria
(062) 991-3284 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-3284      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Platinum 21
34 Barcelona St.
(062) 991-2709 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-2709      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Sta. Cruz Island
c/o PTA, Calarian
(062) 991-1796 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-1796      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Virnell Farm & Mountain Park
(062) 991-3910 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-3910      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
La Vista del Mar
(062) 991-1208 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (062) 991-1208      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Vista del Monte
La Paz

For more information contact the City Tourism Office @ Tel. No. (062) 992-3007

What’s Next?

Zamboanga’s Ma. Clara Libregat Garden: Pasonanca

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  1. nice, I never been there but based on your photos and on your article, I felt I want to go's so beautiful, spanish-themed architecture, the BPI office

  2. come and visit zamboanga joseph ... there are too much fun to do in the latin city :D

  3. Very nice post of your visit to Zamboanga! I hope I get to visit this place, too. I love looking at old houses, particularly that of spanish influence.

  4. i haven't been to Zamboanga or any part of Mindanao. thanks for sharing about your experience. at least, i have an idea about the place.

  5. Zamboanga City has a lot of historical structures and I would sure love to see those lovely vintas in the sea.

  6. I heard that Zamboanga City is beautiful. Based on your photos and description, looks like its true.

  7. been to zamboanga before but never got the chance to roam around... due to time constraint... lot of good places to go to... thanks for this. Yahweh bless.

  8. Never been to Zamboanga. I guess it's worth visiting the place. :)

  9. I've never been to Zamboanga CIty but I've been to Zambo Sur several times already. My father's ancestral land is there.

  10. The place looks nice! Reminded me of the old days. It is like going back in time.

  11. I've never been to Zamboanga but I heard and watched so much Beautiful things about it