Zamboanga City prides itself as the Asia’s Latin City as reflected in its language called Chavacano. It is located at the southern portion of the Philippines, close to Basilan and Sulu, where many believe as the headquarters of Muslim rebels. But do not be scared of its proximity to leftists as the city is impregnated with lots of military headquarters. The local people are also accommodating and very, very nice and they detest violent acts.
From the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, you can take Philippine Airlines (PAL) at Terminal 2, Cebu Pacific Air and Airphil Express at Terminal 3 (the new one), or Zest Air at Terminal 1 (the old domestic airport). The airlines have early flights, with the PAL coming in at 4:30 in the morning. The flight takes more or less an hour and twenty minutes to the Zamboanga International Airport. Tourists are welcomed with a not-so-usual sawtooth-styled facade. This makes the airport one-of-a-kind in the Philippine setting, plus the Spanish-sounding language! Buenas dias! From the airport, you can take a cab or trike to your destination. If you are staying in one of the hotels in the city, then they can fetch you at the airport for free.
Some of the places that you can go to:
1. Fort del Pilar Shrine and Museum. The shrine’s most exciting piece could be the relic of a saint, which, according to our driver, is respected by the Catholics and Muslims. A mass is held every afternoon (1730hours). The entrance to the museum is at the opposite side. It is closed on weekends (which is not good because they are missing the opportunity for earning additional income for the city). Entrance fee for adults is 20pesos; 10pesos for students and Senior Citizens. The first door contains an exhibit on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country like the Baroque Churches and Vigan. Other worthy exhibits include vinta and other aquatic transportation. It has also a viewdeck with cannons on two sides.
2. Pasonanca Park. You can find here a tree-house, Boy Scouts camping area, Climaco Freedom Park.
3. The Way of the Cross at Mt Pulong Bato. There are only fourteen stations. Once at the top, there is a cross overlooking the city and neighbouring places across the sea (ie Basilan).
4. Paseo del Mar. This is similar to the Baywalk of Metro Manila. It is best to go here at night.
5. Barter Market. This is where you can buy affordable items from Indonesia and Malaysia like chocolates, green tea, garments, etc.
6. Yakan Village. Yakans are people from Basilan. They specialise in weaving colourful clothing items.
Going around the city is easy because of the abundance of trikes. Fare is very minimal. Fastfood establishments are also available if you are not used to eating in the side of streets. But there are good restaurants in the city like the Mang Paeng’s Inasal and Country Chicken near the Pasonanca Park. Check my entry on these awesome restaurants.
For your spiritual needs, there is a big cathedral near Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
You can stay at Lantaka Resort By The Sea, Grand Astoria, Jardin de La Vina Hotel.