Zamboanga City is in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. Known as the "City of Flowers" (the etymology of Zamboanga comes from the Malay word jambangan means garden of flowers), it is now one of the most important and busiest port cities in the Philippines. The Chavacano language (popularly known as Zamboangueño language or Zamboangueño Chavacano, a creole language whose vocabulary is 80% Spanish and 20% from Philippine languages and other foreign sources) made Zamboanga as "Asia's Latin City." This is also because of the same traditions with Spain, particularly the patroness Our Lady of the Pilar (which is also the patroness of Spain).
City of Flowers
One common and popularly accepted claim how Zamboanga got its name is that it derived from the Malay word jambangan ("flower garden"), though other historical findings dispute that. All that said however, Zamboanga City is proud to call itself the "City of Flowers" after that name derivation.
Zamboanga City is one of the largest cities in the Philippines by land area, with a size of about 1,500 km2 (580 sq mi), coming third after Puerto Princesa (about 2,300 km2 (890 sq mi)) and Davao City (2,400 km2 (930 sq mi)). It is also the second largest city in Mindanao (after Davao City) and the sixth largest in the Philippines. by population, with about 860,000 residents as of 2015.
The city is an important seaport, being the main transportation to the south. During Spanish times, Zamboanga provided protection to the rest of the Philippines from menacing Muslim pirates (which remains a threat until today).
Zamboanga City is large sizewise, around as large as Davao City. With its vast area, mostly rural, it is much more of a province with an urbanized area at the southern end and towns and villages surrounding it. It is subdivided into 98 barangays, 30 being urbanized. Zamboanga City is bordered to the north by the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay, and Basilan Island to the south.
Zamboanga City natives mostly belong to the Zamboangueño ethnic group, a result of marriages between Spaniards and Austronesian peoples brought to the city to build forts. Zamboangueños speak the Spanish-based creole language Chavacano, which is widely spoken across the city, and are proud of their Spanish ancestry. Due to migration out of the insurgency-ridden Sulu Archipelago, Muslim-majority Yakan, Samal, and Badjao (Sama-Bajau) are also widespread.
Compared to the majority of Mindanao, Zamboanga City has a tropical wet and dry climate with an average of 28 °C (82 °F). Daily highs range between 32–33 °C (90–91 °F) and lows between 24–25 °C (75–77 °F). There is rather a short dry season, running between January to March; it is mostly rainy for the rest of the year.
- 1 Zamboanga International Airport (ZAM IATA). Well connected to the rest of the Philippines (despite the name and certification, there are only domestic flights).
The Port of Zamboanga has a scheduled international passenger ferry from Sandakan in Malaysia. In addition, it is served by several shipping lines offering regular trips from Dipolog, Dapitan, Jolo, Bongao, Isabela City, and Dumaguete, Cebu City, Iloilo City and Manila.
- 2GO Travel has a ferry from Manila once per week via Dipolog and Dumaguete.
- Aleson Shipping Lines operates a ferry from Sandakan in Malaysia. There are departures from Sandakan every Tuesday and Friday at 5PM.
- Zamboanga Integrated Transport Terminal. Buses headed for Zamboanga all terminate here. There are food stalls, ticket booths, seats for waiting passengers. Jeepneys and tricycles to downtown are available from the terminal.
From the Visayas, Ceres Liner has one air-conditioned luxury bus from Cebu City via Dumaguete and Dipolog. From Luzon, Ceres Transport has one bus from Manila to Zamboanga City via Batangas City, Iloilo City, Bacolod and Dumaguete.
Zamboanga serves as the southern end of Asian Highway 26, or the Pan-Philippine Highway.
Jeepneys are widely available, with routes connecting the downtown from the airport and bus terminal. Routes are numbered (as of 2022), but are not visible; you generally find their destination from markings on the side and signs on the windshield. Route of interest to visitors are between Sevilla Street downtown and the bus terminal in barangay Divisoria, and Reyes Street downtown and the airport at Canelar.
The taxi fare for a 5-km trip would be less than ₱50, but there aren't that many available. Most taxis congregate around the bigger malls and the airport.
Tricycle fares start at ₱20. Zamboanga City tricycles are mostly motorcycles with a sidecar body and a windshield extending into the driver side, but Bajaj auto rickshaws are taking over
- Cawa-Cawa Boulevard. You can visit the place early in the morning for brisk walking or jogging or in the afternoon for its famed sunset view. You can also spend some time at night eating Balut (a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten with vinegar and salt).
- 1 Fort Pilar. Founded in 1635 as a garrison during the Spanish period, the Fort Pilar serves as a present day open-air shrine. Built as La Fuerza Real de San Jose, the fort is now named after and dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. It image is embossed at the altar (which was then an entrance of the fort). Fort Pilar also houses a National Museum branch inside the fort. You can appreciate the glorious past of Zamboanga as a Spanish city here in the museum. It also has record of inhabitants and antique items of the early time. It also exhibits paintings, natural marine life and cultural memorabilia.
- 2 Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. Founded in 1810 as a parish at the present day Universidad de Zamboanga campus, the Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zamboanga (created in 1910 as diocese and elevated in 1958 as an archdiocese). It is known as one of the most modern cathedrals in Mindanao, built in 1998-2001. The cathedral is located at La Purisima St. The cathedral's structure is cruciform, resembling a cross and its facade is patterned after a candle (which is connected to the Blessed Virgin Mary). The main church is on the second floor, with stained glass portraying the life of Mary and Asian saints as well as the history of Mindanao's dioceses starting from 1910. At the lower level are the columbarium, the day chapel, the adoration chapel at the left wing, the conference hall at the right wing, and the baptistery fronting the day chapel.
- 3 Old Normal School Building. Also known as the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) Social Hall, the building was built during the American Era and was the center of education for most of Mindanao. It houses the College of Education of WMSU and is also the site where most cultural presentations are held. It also houses a Museum.
- 4 Pasonanca Park. Traversed by a gently rippling stream, this park is the only one of its kind in the country. It abounds with trees, flowering plants, ferns, shrubs and 600 different species of orchids. Mindanao Governor John J. Pershing started the construction of Pasonanca Park in 1912. He sent for a parksman in the United States, once named Thomas Hanley, to prepare the plan and direct its execution. The park was completed under the administration of Governor Frank W. Carpenter. There is a treehouse nestling high in the branches of one big tree where guests could pass the night and hold communion with nature which, in the darkness, could still be perceived in the gentle rustling of the pine trees. Permission to use the treehouse, which is for free, can be obtained at the Office of the Mayor.
- 5 Plaza Pershing. Plaza Pershing was established in Zamboanga City, Philippines to honor John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (September 13, 1860 – July 15, 1948) with his victory over Muslim insurgents.
- 6 St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish Church, Tetuan. Records shows that at the start, there was a small chapel constructed on a lot. Owned by Don Balbino Natividad, a permanent resident of Tetuan. (The Natividad is one of the biggest clans in the Parish spread throughout the city up to the hinterlands and reputed to be large property owners. Members held various positions in the government and parishes. At least one became a Jesuit priest). In January 1863, apparently having reached the required number of Catholic would be parishioners and with the availability of the would-be parish priest, the St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish was created with a Jesuit, Rev. Fr. Ramon Barua, SJ as its first Parish Priest.
- 7 Sta. Cruz Island. The Great Santa Cruz island is known for its pink sand beach and sand bar, while the Little Sta. Cruz Island is a typical white beach, with pulverized-like sand. It is also a diving site and is host to a lagoon, a Muslim burial site and a badjao/samal community.
- Serenity Falls. Zamboanga City's Serenity Falls bounded between La Paz and Pamucutan, at the foot of the EcoZone's south entrance.
- 8 Taluksangay Mosque. This colorful mosque is in the barrio of Taluksangay outside the city center.
- La Vista del Mar & Honorory Consulate of Spain (Honorario Consulado de España). Beach resort. Delicious restaurant with fresh seafood and beautiful views of the sea. Also home of Honorary Consulate of Spain, great museum of art, culture, and shared Hispanic history of Zamboanga City and Spain. There is an small entrance fee to get into the resort.
- Yakan Weaving Center. Host to the only Yakan community in the City, the center is just across the famed La Vista de Mar beach resort at the border of Barangay Upper Calarian and Sinunuc and along the National Highway. You can witness the local people weaving intricately hand-woven clothes on giant looms as well as traditional brasswares.
- 9 Zamboanga City Hall. The construction of this building started in 1905 and was completed in 1907 by the Federal Government of the United States for the then American Governors of the area which included: Leonard 0. Wood, Tasker H. Bliss, Ralph W. Hoyt, and Gen. John Pershing of World War I fame. Today, this serves as the City Hall of Zamboanga City where the Mayor holds office.
- Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach. Known to be the "oldest golf course" in the Philippines. It was established during the American Occupation and is overlooking the Basilan Strait. It also is host to a public swimming resort managed by the Philippine Tourism Authority. There were talks that a Korean company will be building a 5-star hotel in the area. It was once used as a landing strip.
- Bathe in Pasonanca's natural pools. Bathe in Pasonanca's natural swimming pools- where water flows freely from the mountains to 3 pools- Rotary Pool, Wee-wee Pool for Kids, Tanada Pool.
- Sta Cruz Island. Swim and scuba diving in a pink sand beach in an unspoilt island
- Savour the area's delicacies. Eat special delicacies like Baolo and Satti.
- Visit Abong Abong Park. Climb the hill and do the Stations of the Cross during Holy week or any day of the year, visit the Scout Camps, the tomb of the unknown soldier and Mayor Cesar C. Climaco.
- Visit the Aviary at Pasonanca Park.
- Visit the Fort Pilar Shrine. Light candles at the Fort Pilar Shrine.
- Visit the Maria Clara Lobregat Park.
- Visit the Zamboanga Museum at Fort Pilar.
Shopping malls & supermarkets
- CityMall, Guiwan & Tetuan. 8AM-8PM. Both have Shop-o-Rama supermarkets.
- KCC Mall de Zamboanga. 9AM-8PM. The biggest mall in Zamboanga with a wide variety of shops.
- SM Mindpro, La Purisima Street corner Campaner Street, Barangay Zone III, Zamboanga City. Formerly known as Mindpro Citimall.
- Bargain-priced goods - ranging from various Chinese, Malay and local food, delicacies and imported items.
- Fruits and vegetables - Try visiting Bagsakan Center (just across Sta. Cruz Market) at night for easy access to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are on season at a knock-down price. Seasonal fruits vary from the famed durian, sweet lanzones, mangosteen and a lot of locally harvested fruits.
- Lokot-lokot - a roll that looks like a bunch of golden brown hair intertwined together. You may purchase one at the airport or even at some local delicacy stores around the city.
- Pearls - the home of the South Sea Pearls- you can buy different kinds of pearls at Lantaka Hotel or at various malls within the Business District like the Sophia Jewellery at the 3rd level of Mindpro Citimall.
- Sardines- there are many popular sardine brands in the Philippine market today. Most of these brands are canned and packed in Zamboanga City's west coast areas, where the sardines are freshly caught.
- Seafood - you can buy fresh fish at the waterfront of the Main Public Market, Aderes Flea Market (in Guiwan), or at the weekend makeshift market at the Cawa-cawa Boulevard or at Sinunuc. The catch ranges from the famous Curacha to Freshwater and Saltwater Crabs to Yellow-fin and Bluefin Tuna, to unusual looking fishes and seaweeds.
- Souvenir items - You can choose a number of souvenir items at the Home Products store along Ledesma St.( near San Jose Rd. corner Climaco Ave.).
- Yakan-weaved Cloth - you can purchase this from the Yakan Village Weaving Center at Upper Calarian-just across the famed La Vista del Mar Beach Resort. The clothes are intricately woven to creat an ethnic pattern. Visitors usually use the clothes as table lining, tapestries or even as accessories to their formal wear.
- ABC Bakery and Restaurant (beside Shoppers Central).
- Alavar's Seafood House, Don Alfaro St., Tetuan.
- Antonio's Steakhouse, Pasonanca.
- La Casa Maria, Sta.Maria, ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. 6AM-10PM. Cafe, restaurant. ₱100-500.
- Chowking, La Purisima St (across Puericulture Center), ☏ , . The only oriental quick service restaurant in the city open 24 hours, and with free delivery service,
- Country Chicken Restaurant and Country Bakeshop, Pasonanca Road.
- Eureka, Pasonanca Rd, ☏ . Japanese & local cuisine.
- Flavourite Cuisine, Rizal St. and Nuñez branches.
- Food Paradise, Climaco Avenue.
- Golden Boys Sports Grille. Nunez Extension
- Hai San Seafood Market and Restaurant, 60 San Jose Rd.
- Hanazono, Gov. Camins Ave. A Japanese restaurant.
- Jimmy's Satti, Campaner cor. Brillantes.
- Kadday Sug, Sta. Cruz Market.
- Kintaro 10th High. Japanese restaurant at Skypark Hotel.
- Lejan Ice Cream House and Restaurant, Santa Maria.
- Mang Inasal, 2nd flr. Southway Square Mall.
- Manang Terry's Chicken Inato. Mayor Jaldon (Canelar) and Nunez (MP Tower) branches
- Mano-Mano, Gov. Ramos Avenue, Sta. Maria.
- Niel's Fastfood, MCLL Highway, Mercedes.
- Park 88, Pasonanca Park.
- Red Ribbon Bakeshop, Shoppers' Center.
- Papito's Grille, Lunzuran Road, Tumaga (beside Ateneo High School).
- Patio Palmeras, Pasonanca.
- St. Mary's Grille, Gov. Ramos Avenue fronting Sta. Maria Parish Church.
- Savoury Panciteria and Restaurant, Mayor Jaldon St., Putik, Tetuan, Santa Maria.
- Shamba Grille, Gov. Camins Avenue beside Caltex Gas Station.
- Sunflower, Rizal St., Veterans Ave., Brilliantes St. branches.
- A Taste of Asia, Unichan Building, Veterans Avenue fronting WMMC.
- Tropics Fine Cuisine, Sta. Maria fronting SLQ Chicken, ☏ .
- Village Zamboanga, Gov. Camins Avenue (beside Garden Orchid Hotel).
- La Vista Seaside Restaurant, La Vista del Mar Resort, Calarian.
- Whoopee Burger Haus, Pilar St. and Gov. Lim Avenue.
- Z-Beryani Persian Cuisine, Nunez Midtown Plaza.
- Island Bubble Tea, Nunex Extension (next to Asia United Bank, Front of SKYGO), ☏ . Pearl Shakes (25 flavors), Belgian waffles, fries. Perfect place to have merienda. Wi-fi zone.
- Myrna's Bakeshop, Pasonanca, km. 4. Serves delicacies like cakes, pastries, pasta and drinks (coffee and shakes).
- Blue Pearl Pension House, Veterans Ave, ☏ . A/C double rooms with own bathrooms and cable TV. ₱500.
- Blue Shark Hotel, Mayor Jaidon Street, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom abd cable TV has 15 rooms ₱700.
- La Casa Maria Hotel, Sta. Maria, ☏ , , email@example.com. Hotel, cafe, restaurant. ₱1160.
- Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant (Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant), Sta. Maria-Pasonanca Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. In a quiet residential area, garden setting; clean, comfortable rooms; hot water, TV, mini bar, quiet A/C; complimentary breakfast, airport transfers, internet access; restaurant on-site. from ₱2200.
- Hermosa Hotel, Mayor Jaldon St, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. ₱699.
- Hotel Salwa, Gov. Camins St. An Islamic owned hotel. Double room with own bathroom and cable TV. ₱800.
- Jardin dela Vina, Gov. Alvarez Avenue. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. ₱1100.
- Lantaka Hotel by the Sea, N. Valderossa Street. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. ₱1100.
- Marcian Garden Hotel, Gov. Camins Avenue. from ₱995.
- Pension Royale Hotel, airport Road, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. 12 rooms. ₱700.
- 1 Preciosa Hotel, Mayor Climaco Ave, ☏ . An affordable old hotel in downtown area.
- Skypark Hotel, Tomas Claudio Street, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. This hotel idy the tallest structure in Zamboanga, and has a Japanese restaurant. double from ₱925.
- Sweet Home Suite, Toribio St., Tetuan. A very cheap accommodation can be found here. ₱400.
- Viva Pension House., Tomas Claudio and Urdaneta Streets, ☏ . A/C double rooms with own bathroom. ₱600.
- Yang's Hotel, Tomas Claudio Street. A/C double with bathroom and cable TV. ₱800.
- Mag-V-Royal Hotel, corner Don Basilio Navarro Street & San Jose Road, ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. 19 rooms ₱500.
- Bacolod Pension House, Gov Camins Avenue., ☏ . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. A/C double room with own bathroom and cable TV. ₱500.
Zamboanga City lies just north of the Sulu Islands, and the risk of the insurgency there spilling over into the city remains high. In September 2013, Zamboanga was besieged by the then-Islamic nationalists Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which flattened parts of the city, but hostilities have hardly affected the downtown.
- Zamboanga City Medical Center. Veterans Avenue. +63 62-9910573 (Government Hospital).
- Bureau of Immigration Zamboanga Office. 1st Floor. Radja Building. Gov Cains Avenue. Phone +63 62-9912234.