Tuesday, February 28

Zamboanga City - My Very First Visit

What did I do in Zamboanga City?

My very first visit in  this place is just for 3 days, this is  to join an ultra marathon race held on the place. But because the event will happen on the 3rd day yet, we decided to go around and visit many good places and eat the most delicious delicacy of the city. 

Day 1
 Left Manila Friday, February 24, 4:20am. Upon arrival in Zamboanga City, bringing our luggage at  the place of our host family, Leni and Joji, we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast prepared by them, curacha in alavar sauce, shrimp, tinolang tangigui, mixed fresh vegetables and fruits. First check on my list, curacha in alavar sauce. After breakfast we head  to  the Department of Tourism to register our trip the following day to the island of Sta. Cruz. That begins our adventure for the rest of the day.

1. Lantaka Hotel by the Sea - it's a hotel decorated in a local native way beside the sea. Great view of the peninsula straight but we are not for that, we are here to see their famous sea pearl that ranges from the cultured items to the most expensive authentic one. We bought few pieces, a good souvenir of our visit, besides it really looks great too. 

2.  Fort Pilar Shrine and Museum - this place is a remnant of Zamboanga's  colonial past. With a Marian Shrine upon entrance of the fort, making it just appropriate to ask for thanksgiving  and light ed colorful candles before doing anything else.  A museum inside the fort is a great way to know , discover and experience the rich culture and heritage of the place. 

3.  Ateneo de Zamboanga - a visit on one of  the famous university of the city, to see the two kids of our hosts and at the same time have a tour of the campus of the university which us celebrating  its 100 year anniversary  and our Atenean friend might want to grab a souvenir, he got a pen. 

4. Lunch at Mano Mano na Greenfield Restaurant - now hungry, we drop by this restaurant and order the local delicacy, kare-kare, grilled pusit, kangkong, tinolang bangus, calamares, and mango shake, we are not  just hungry but  very very hungry.  The dessert will just follow later. It's a Friday, supposedly an abstinence from eating meat, but how can I resist  to the yummy kare-kare.

5. Pasonanca National Park - a visit to this famous park reminds me of my elementary and high school days, I always hear of the Boy's Scout's  national camp on this place but really haven't got a chance to be part of an event held here those days. I finally got  a chance to see it when it's quite, no campers around. After which we just take a look at the big famous swimming pools while riding on the car. The place is famous for it's beautiful park with big public pools and a slide of flowing water. 
6. Abong - Abong and Climaco's Freedom Park - This is actually a freedom park build in honor to the famous   Cesar Cortes Climaco who served the country and become one of those who fought for democracy. This place is also the gateway to the highest peak of the city, Abong Abong passing by the station of the cross before reaching the place overlooking the entire city up to the island of Sta Cruz and Basilan. 

7. Palmera's Knickerbocker Dessert  -  a famous dessert of  mix fresh fruits, jelly, shaved ice, milk topped with ice cream only found on the city of Zamboanga. A very appropriate one on a hot and humid afternoon after our long travel and walk to several places already.

8. Yakan Village - the Yakans are considered among the finest weavers in the country, they are the original inhabitants of Basilan, now forming a  small community in the City of Zamboanga. Weaving is their main means of income by selling the items on the the shops just below their community fronting the main highway accessible to tourists. They are kind enough to show us how it is being made.

9. Vista Del Mar - a sightseeing tour of this resort by the sea, it did not even take us 15 minutes to go around the place by car. Not so maintained anymore but the place is just really huge  with cottages for beach goers. We just go down to take few pictures of the resort's signage.

10. Paseo del Mar - we end our day on this beautiful reclaimed area. It's well lighted with colorful ones with benches fronting the sea with several restaurants around that strollers can enjoy a full meal or just a desert of knickerbocker or just have bottle of drinks while listening to a live band. We started looking at the boat people asking for coins which they swim for it using an improvised musk and fins. Some of them are with handcrafted merchandise they offer to visitors. Our friend Cherrye take the time to see and buy few items from them. After which we look for some food for dinner.

Day 2 (Saturday, February 25)
An early trip to the  airport to meet one last addition to the team on this adventure.

1. Wet Market of Sea Foods
Because we are leaving for the island  of Sta. Cruz today to  enjoy the white sand and clear water, we need to buy food that we will bring to the island. First off, we went to the wet market of sea foods, lot's of it. Curacha, crab, fish of so many kinds, sea shells, shrimps of different sizes, seaweeds, etc. There's just too many to mention, and with the help of Joji, Cherrye just take time to choose which among those she wants to buy and eat for lunch.

2. Fruit Stand
A short stop over at the fruit stand to buy fruits we can bring to the island as well especially for FR who is a full vegan. There are many fruits familiar to us but something distinct in the Mindanao region is marang, rambutan, durian (which I really do not learn to love eating), there was avocado, my very favorite fruit, but it was too expensive. I thought I'll just let go of it at this time.
3. Barter Trade
With lot's of sea foods ready to be cooked and fruits ready for eating, instead of going home straight Joji thought of dropping us off at Barter Trade while Leni will cook what we bought. I grow up in the province hearing about the Barter Trade of Zamboanga, I vividly remember the soft white rabbit candy with edible inner wrapper. But it was when I am there that I am so amazed with how it is being done. Most of what they sell are all imported from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunie, especially those grocery goods: maggi kari, maling meat loaf, corned beef, ensure milk, milo powder, cookies, lotion and more. I am more amazed with the linens and malongs sold in almost every stoles. With so many good designs, I just got so confused which among those items I will get but of course I need to decide. I spend but I am glad and happy.

4. Sta. Cruz Island
A 20 minute boat ride from the city of Zamboanga, Sta. Cruz island is known for its pinkish white sand. This is just a small island right in between the city of Zamboanga and Basilan. Contrary to most of the people's notion, the place is peaceful but despite that, all that is going to the island should be escorted with one PNP personnel. This is just for safety purposes. The island has around 75 houses of family but not visible to where beach goers are being brought. They serve as the guardian of the island making sure that it is clean and maintained. All beach goers are not allowed to stay overnight, one is just allowed to stay and enjoy the beauty of the place for a day. The island is beautiful, with wide white sand one can just lay sarong  on the sand and relax, it has clear water that one can enjoy swimming though the current is just really strong or just stroll around the place and enjoy the view. One is discouraged though to stray on the other side of the island. We swim a bit and enjoy the cool water despite the bright sun.

Among the many things that we did for the past two days, the many places that we visit, the yummy foods that we eat, the people that we meet, I had so much fun and I enjoy a lot. But it is the sleeping birds lining on the electric wires on one street, on one street of the city,  yes just one particular street ton he heart  of the city of Zamboanga that I am in so much awe. How come on the middle of a city such as this, birds which we call sayaw (cave birds) in my local Cebuano tongue  has find a home on this street even if it's well lighted, this is not dark at all.

 Day 3 (Sunday. February 26)
Vinta Ultra Race
The race proper, the very main reason why we are here. It took us almost the entire day spend to finish the race having no time anymore to go one more round of even the Barter Trade. After the race we had to rush back at Leni's house, change and go to the airport. Wait for our flight that is more than 2 hours delayed. 

That ends my 3 day weekend full of fun and adventure. I hope to come back this place and enjoy it's beauty someday.   


  1. Hello Ms. Cheryl Bihag,

    A pleasant day to you.

    I will be launching s2kd by the end of April. Primarily it will be a collection of personal stories of travel in the Philippines. The basic idea is for people to share the excitement of going places and at the same time offer useful information to would-be wanderers.

    In connection with this I am requesting your permission to allow me to republish in full (text and images) your blog post at


    As usual, full credits along with a link back to your article will accompany the republished content.

    A preview of s2kd is available at http://s2kd.blogspot.com/

    Hoping for your approval.

    Ronald Alcazar

    1. Go ahead Ronald.
      You can post my article in your blog.
      Thank you as well.