It is very interesting to visit Zamboanga City to deconstruct stereotypes. I thought I would be dead in Zamboanga City because of terrorist groups in the nearby province. On the contrary, I find it very safe. Although they love parties at night, they won’t shout for any drunken rumble. I even jogged safely in the streets at 3am. People are nice and courteous. Metro Manila is still more dangerous. Here are the 9 Things You Can Do While in Zamboanga City!
1.) Attend a Royal Muslim Wedding
Main agenda for flying to Zamboanga City is to attend the wedding of my friend, Princess Nina Bahjin-Imlan, daughter of Sultan Ibrahim Bahjin Shakirullah II of the Royal House of Patikul Sulu. I loved how the wedding was staged- choreo of attendees, the bride being carried in a golden carriage by 4 warriors, muslim traditions, venue’s design and the food.
I liked most the runway set up for the attendees. Once your name is called, you will walk on the runway while the speaker reads aloud your accomplishments in life and your family background. I would definitely imitate that on my wedding day.
2.) Yakan Village
Near Zamboanga City Hall, you can take a jeepney (route Upper Calarian) to visit the Yakan Village. Yakans (aka Dreamweavers) are ethnic tribes originally from Basilan. Because of the turmoil in their province, they have migrated nearby Zamboanga City where they have continued their tradition of weaving. They said, it takes a couple of days to weave 3 meters of table runner I bought for 1500 php (30 US dollars)
3.) Fort Pilar
It was founded as the southern outpost of Spanish Domain under the supervision of Melchor De Vera, 1635. Attacked by the Dutch, 1646; Deserted when troops concentrated in Manila to Drive Away Chinese Pirates, 1663. Reconstructed by the Society of Jesus, 1666; Rebuilt under the Management of Juan Sicarra, 1719; Stormed by Dalasi, King of Sulig, with 3,000 Moros, 1720; Cannonaded by the British, 1798; witnessed the mutiny of 70 prisoners, 1872; abandoned by the Spaniards, 1898. Occupied by the Americans under General J.C. Bates, 1899. Seized by the Japanese, 1942: Taken over by the Republic of the Philippines July 4, 1946
4.) Paseo Del Mar
Paseo Del Mar is just 5 mins walking distance from Fort Pilar. There are free zumba exercises in the morning, a port bound to Sta.Cruz (Pink) Island, and many restaurants in the area.
5.) Lantaka Pearls
Lantaka Pearls is the only accredited pearl specialty shop by the Department of Tourism Region IX and a proud member of the Guild of Philippine Jewellers Inc. Their shop is located in the 2nd floor of KCC Mall de Zamboanga in Camins Road. They are proud of their pearl jewellery with silver and gold purely handcrafted by local Zamboanga city artisans. They showed to me some of their Filipino-culture-inspired designs like the Sarimanok necklace on below picture. For more details, you can like their Facebook page thru this link: https://web.facebook.com/lantakapearls/
6.) Dennis Coffee Garden
Dennis Coffee Garden is one of the famous restaurants you should try while in Zamboanga City. It boasts Tausug meals, pastries, and Sulu Coffee (Kahawa Sug). Apart from their delicious offers, their advocacy for local coffee sustains farming communities in Patikul, Sulu.
This marketplace is the haven for products coming from nearby Southeast Asian Countries. Most of the artistic bags and textiles, chocolates, and other delicious Malaysian and Indonesian food products are not yet available in Metro Manila so make sure you have an extra luggage way back home.
8.) RT Lim Boulevard
This was referred to me by my Colonel friend who had stayed in Zamboanga city. True enough, one of the best sunsets is found here!
9.) KCC Mall de Zamboanga
This is one of the largest and interesting Malls in Zamboanga City. I spent most of my time inside this mall because it is very near my hotel. I would visit here the Dennis Coffee Garden for their special beef kulma meal.
Note: Philippine Airlines has a daily Manila to Zamboanga City flight. I suggest you book your itinerary with the best airline in the Philippines- PAL!