A few weeks ago, the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) group besieged the Asia’s Latin City: Zamboanga City. Its culture is enriched with Hispanic influences, thus the nickname. Its dialect, Chavacano, is a creolized version of the Spanish language–it was called by the conquistadors as lenguaje del calle. Unfortunately, it has also been the “playground” between the rebels and the government’s military. Its reputation as a “dangerous city” of the south diminishes its potential to be a top tourist spot in the Philippines.

Before the conflict erupted, I was lucky to experience the rich culture and peaceful lifestyle of the city. Last February, my brother’s girlfriend invited us to visit the place. We stayed there for three days. I have to admit that before our unplanned trip to Zamboanga, my perception of the city is about rebels, armies and war zones. The media seemed to have successfully inculcated to the mind of the televiewers that it’s not a safe place to visit. Well, I was proven wrong. Its cultural heritage was a must-see for me.

Zamboanga City

Cebu Pacific Air, Zamboanga City

Cebu Pacific Air, Zamboanga City

From Manila, we took the Cebu Pacific Air’s flight to Zamboanga International Airport. I was surprised to see that the place is almost similar to the sub-urban cities around Metro Manila. Buildings, cars, paved roads, hospitals, fast food restaurants and schools are everywhere. Honestly, the place feels much safer than Manila!

Zamboanga City Airport

Zamboanga City Airport

Zamboanga City Map

Zamboanga City Map

The place is at the southern part of the peninsula and is known for its abundance of seafoods. Indeed, we were not disappointed. The wet market shows a variance of crabs, fish, squids and other sea creatures. The price is also cheaper compared to Manila.

Seafood Market in Zamboanga

Seafood Market in Zamboanga

You will only need a day or two to go around the tourist spots in the city. The places that we went to were:

Fort Pilar

This place was considered miraculous. During the Spanish era, there was a great flood in the city and it remained untouched by the disaster. Originally, there was no church there, but because of the miracle stories, the people built one. If you have ailments that you’d like to be cured, you’ll have to buy a few candles and burn them in the candle area. The smoke that comes from the burnt candle must be dampen to the part of your body that is sick. If you have lungs problem, I guess you have to inhale them.

Fort Pillar Zamboanga

Fort Pillar Zamboanga

Pasonanca Park

A lush greenery park.

Pasonanca Park Zamboanga

Pasonanca Park Zamboanga

The Tree House of Pasonanca Park

From what I was told, this is very popular for tourists. It’s a big tree house that has historical value. 🙂

Tree House at Pasonanca Park

Tree House at Pasonanca Park

Boy Scout’s Tee Pee

Boy Scout Tee Pee Zamboanga

Boy Scout’s Tee Pee Zamboanga

Canelar Barter Trade Center

This used to be a thriving trade center until the local government moved the official trading center to Sulu.

The water treatment plant

This is memorable for me not because it’s a magnificent place to visit, but because when I was about to alight from the car, I slipped and hit the concrete. 🙂

Water Treatment Plant Zamboanga

Water Treatment Plant Zamboanga

Don’t miss the Zacky Fried Chicken restaurant! Their crispy breaded chicken skin is so sinful and so delicious!

Zacky Fried Chicken

Zacky Fried Chicken

Zamboanga del Norte

The air-conditioned bus to Dapitan.

The air-conditioned bus to Dapitan.

From Zamboanga city, we went to the northern part of region. We planned to go to Dapitan City and Dakak Beach Resort. There is a regular trip to Zamboanga del Norte. The bus is air-conditioned, very clean and comfortable. We took the night trip. It was scary at first because I had this feeling that the bus will be ambushed or stopped by some armed militants.

Took this shot while the bus was passing along the highway near the shore.

Took this shot while the bus was passing along the highway near the shore.

The trip was very relaxing. The sceneries were either rice paddies, mountains or ocean shore. It’s ironic that such a peaceful environment is terrorized by some extremists.

Rice paddies in Zamboanga

Rice paddies in Zamboanga

Dapitan City

The route from Zamboanga City to Dapitan City. Thanks Google map!

The route from Zamboanga City to Dapitan City. Thanks Google map!

The Dapitan City is the place where our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, was exiled to by the Spaniards.  There’s a Rizal shrine built in the 16 hectares of land. Alot of things about Dr. Rizal can be learned from the place. If you want to know more, please visit the Dapitan City’s website.

Dapitan City!

Dapitan City!

When we reached the bus terminal, we rented a van for PHP1500.00 for a half-day city tour. The places that we went to were:

  1. Relief Map
  2. City Plaza
  3. Old House
  4. Rizal Shrine

We weren’t so lucky because it was raining so we had a limited amount of time going around.

Dakak Beach Resort

Dakak Beach Resort

In the afternoon, we headed to the famous Dakak Park Beach and Resort. It is well maintained and is still in good condition. The cove is an awesome sight to behold. Its calm and clear water is perfect for kayaking, jetskiing and some other water sports.

Since we didn’t plan to stay overnight in the resort, we paid PHP450 for the entrance fee and that includes a free meal in their Italian restaurant.

 

Dakak Beach 2013 - Aldrin Was Here!

Dakak Beach 2013 – Aldrin Was Here!

The overall experience was good. Until now, whenever I remember the trip, it leaves a trail of smile on my face.