"Zamboanga Hermosa - City of Flowers" Top 5 Page for this destination Zamboanga City by Ric

Zamboanga City Travel Guide: 78 reviews and 183 photos

Christian Filipino and Muslim Filipino in one city

Contrary to international and national press reports, Zamboanga is not a dangerous area. Muslim and Christian Filipinos here have a working multi-cultural relationship, with a notable amount of intermarriage. Undeniably there are altercations between Muslim separatists and the national government. There are certain areas where as a foreigner it is not wise to go alone, which can also be said for Los Angeles or for Berlin. In the downtown and scenic points the juxtaposition of Muslim Filipino culture and Christian Filipino culture abounds. The different ethnic settlements are interesting and accessible, from the Spanish architecture of old-time Zamboangeno families (see picture) to the Badjao sea gypsy village out over the water.

Zamboanga lies outside the typhoon belt, so that other than the rainy season it is not subjected to nature's wrath that visits the northern Philippines (including Manila).

Beyond the urban city proper there are great seascapes and rural landscapes, including rice fields, corn fields, fish ponds, extensive stands of coconut palms, tucked-away rural chapels and mosques, and roadside markets. The Tausug who once controlled the entire Sultanate of Sulu occupy districts such as Campo Islam and Rio Hondo while the Samal, called the peaceable people of Sulu, can be found in villages like Taluksangay. This is a fishing community and site of the oldest mosque in Western Mindanao (see picture). Residents don't mind photos or visitors.

Zamboanga is a bouquet of languages. One hears the fascinating Chavacano, a Spanish Creole spoken by Zamboanga natives. The Chavacano greeting is "Buenas Dias" and the phrase for "women" is "el maga mujer." The Tausug language is reminiscent of market Malay. Cebuano speakers from the Visayas have settled here--Cebuano is the de facto lengua franca for the Central and Southern Philippines. In addition one hears Filipino/Tagalog, the national language. In the towns almost everyone speaks some English. Peninsular Spanish is rarely spoken today.

Zamboanga is a transit point for high speed passenger ships to Jolo and other points in the Sulu Archipelago as well as to Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas. There is an overnight ship to Sandakan, Sabah in Malaysia (it's cheaper than flying). "Zambo" is serviced by two different domestic airlines, including Philippine Airlines' twice daily Manila flights.

One can "do" Zamboanga in two days of feverish sightseeing. With four or five days, you would get more of the personality of the region and its people. Take the time to discover the quiet and the unexpected (see picture).

And yes, there are internet cafes...

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:a hospitable people; not spoiled by mass tourism, great fresh fish
  • Cons:few beaches for swimming, presence of the Philippine military, tourism infrastructure not yet developed
  • In a nutshell:A city that combines Spanish elegance with unvarnished Malay Filipino culture
  • Last visit to Zamboanga City: Jul 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 8, 2010
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Reviews (7)

Comments (3)

  • claaay's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    Real nice information Ric.

  • Casper5's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2008 at 1:12 AM

    Wow, that was really informative, Ric! You seemed to have captured the true essence of Zamboanga here! Thank you.

  • ligaya's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2005 at 5:54 PM

    From my husband:is it really true i can speak spanish in Zamboanga,coz i am spanish speaker,i live in Leyte.


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