Que Hiciste En Zamboanga?

It’s nice to be back in Manila (after a safe and smooth flight) but at the same time, it was sad to leave home, especially family and friends. A lot of people asked me what I did in Zamboanga. (Que Hiciste En Zamboanga?) Well, I had a packed schedule upon arriving home.

Zamboanga Airport

Home Sweet Home – I flew home with Pauline’s (my friend who was to get married the following day) relatives and friends from Manila. And because of this, Pauline had prepared an itinerary for her visitors. First stop was her family friend’s rest house by the beach in Patalon, which very well reminded me of Sonya’s Garden. It was my first time again, after a few years, to have a taste of lechon (roasted pig)! Her friends from Manila were actually saying how ordinary it is to always have lechon in any Zamboangueño celebration. I agreed as I realized that I never ate lechon in my whole stay in Manila since last year despite the number of parties I had attended!

There were actually a few activities lined up for the day but since I only had an hour of sleep the night before, I decided to get some sleep after the lunch in Patalon.

Love Begins With One HelloJet and Pauline exchanged ‘I Dos’ at St. Joseph Parish Church, wherein I was the commentator. The reception followed at Zamboanga’s newest convention center, Astoria Regency. I didn’t finish the whole reception though, as I had to rush to another event that night – my glade school class reunion at Patio Palmera’s.

One of the Most Awaited Activities – The Regatta de Zamboanga was held on the 8th of October and it was a long activity since it was a race of a total of 114 colorful vintas (Zamboanga sailboats). I attended the event with Congresswoman Beng Climaco. The race was down to 10 vintas at around 10 am. Every regatta participant got PhP 1000 each, while the first, second, and third placers got PhP 10,000, PhP 7,000, and PhP 5,000, respectively. This wasn’t just an awaited moment for me, but also for the vinta rowers. Most of them came from the minority Muslim groups and had to sail for at least an hour to reach the venue of the event. They said that they always wait for regatta (which happens only a year) because the prize is huge enough to sustain the daily needs of their families. They usually spend around PhP 500 to build their vintas and bring home at least a thousand merely by just participating. We can just imagine how happy the runners up were in bringing home more than a thousand cash prize.

After regatta, I headed to my grandmother’s house for a get-together with my family. Another bunch of visitors from Manila and Batangas were actually being hosted by them, so it was another night of feast (seafood feast, especially curacha and locon) and laughter.

Ola Badjaos y Yakans! – I went with my family and the out-of-towners for a brief tour of the city. Yep! It was a tour of my hometown! There were short business visits and then we proceeded to the Badjao Livelihood Center in Sinunuc, where they sell colorful petate(s) (sleeping mats made from palm leaves). The Badjaos are otherwise known as the sea gypsies. They usually live in boats-turned-houses, but most of them now relocated to stilt houses along some coastal areas of the city.

The Badjaos: From Boats-Turned-Houses to Stilt Houses

Then we drove to the Yakan Village Weaving and Display Center. The Yakans belong to another minority Muslim group, who are known for their artistic side. They usually weave and make jars and gongs for a living. My last visit here was a few years back and I expected the area to be different now, or at least, improved. But to my disappointment, it still looked the same. The products on display, although really beautiful, were a bit pricey. Most of the same products can also be found in the barter shops in Canelar at very reasonable prices. I got the chance to talk to one of the elders of the Yakans and I explained to her how raising the prices of the items can drive probable buyers away. I didn’t really have the time to have a longer interaction with her but I hope that our short talk somehow made her realize that price matters most of the time.

We then had a sumptuous lunch at Patio Palmeras, one of the frequented restaurants in Zamboanga. Of course, it was another feast of seafood. For dessert, I tried the recommended knicker bucker, which was a mixture of around 6 different kinds of fruit with ice cream on top. It sort of resembles halo-halo but this one doesn’t contain ice.

After lunch, we went up to Pasonanca Park. We made quick stops at the tree house (an accommodation built way back in 1960) and the butterfly farm. Then we were off to Carmelites along Cawa-Cawa Boulevard for a scheduled mass.

At The Butterfly Farm With Cousins

Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmelites)

The Historical Zamboanga Fort! – A visit to Zamboanga wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Fort Pilar. This is a historical site which was destroyed, abandoned, and rebuilt several times.

“The fort was attacked by the Dutch in 1646, abandoned by the Spanish troops who concentrated in Manila with their comrades-in-arms to help drive the Chinese pirate, Kui Seng or Co Seng, in 1663; reconstructed, after more pirates had destroyed it, by the Jesuit Fathers in 1669; rebuilt, when again destroyed by the Moros, by Juan Sicarra in 1719; stormed by Dalasi, King of Bulig and 3,000 Moros in 1720; bombarded by the British in 1798; the scene of mutiny of some 70 prisoners in 1872; abandoned by the Spaniards in 1898; captured by the U.S. expeditionary forces on November 16, 1899; captured by the Japanese forces in 1942; recaptured by the Americans in March, 1945; and turned over to the government of the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946.”

After Fort Pilar, we went to the barter shops in Canelar. Since I will be joining a bazaar with some friends this coming Christmas, I did my shopping of some really nice local products which can be sold during the bazaar – metalic malongs which can’t be found in Manila, Apollo chocolate sticks and wafer which can only be found in Rustan’s, and some really beautiful shawls.

Zamboanga Hermosa Activities – The Fiesta Pilar activities run for about a week and another two colorful events were held on October 11 – the Flower Float Parade and the Street Dance Competition. The flower floats were really lovely. The street dances, participated by seven different schools, were beautiful too!

Ailyn’s birthday celebration was held at night and it was another date with the lechon and a get-together with my high school classmates! 🙂

Celebrate, Oh, Let’s Celebrate! – For the Zamboangueños, the 12th of October marked one big celebration of the Catholics and Muslims. It was the Fiesta Pilar Celebration for the Catholics and the Hari Raya Puasa (or the after fasting celebration) for the Muslims! 🙂

Fort Pilar was packed with people, ending the night with fireworks display, a number of Catholic families prepared special meals and feasted, and the Muslim homes in Zamboanga were opened for rounds of feasting too!

Mommies, Mommies, and More Mommies! – One of my closest high school friends, Cheng, is now a mother to a baby boy and another one, Jenny, is expecting a baby girl soon! Cheng gave birth on October 8 and yes, she was definitely a part of my Zamboanga agenda, while a baby shower was held for Jenny at Cafe Aromas the day before I left. 🙂

Me, Lyn, and Nash During Jen’s Baby Shower

Of course, I didn’t leave home without bringing with me curacha, and the distinct Alavar’s sauce and bagoong! 🙂 I still would want to savor Zamboanga one more week in Manila. 🙂

Related Posts and Photos: (1) Another One Walks Down The Aisle (2) The Cycle of Life



  1. […] Related Posts and Photos: (1) Another One Walks Down The Aisle (2) Que Haciste En Zamboanga? […]

  2. […] Related Posts and Photos: (1) The Cycle of Life (2) Que Haciste En Zamboanga? […]

  3. nur nurani said

    Awesome photos you’ve got in here… you went to Ateneo right? we were supposed to be classmates, but I moved to WMSU… I was in Brebeuf for the first week of high school, but I had to transfer.

    I was in Zamboanga myself last month. That was the first visit I had after about 10 years, and I was quite amazed at the place still feeling like it used to. There were a couple of pictures I took, but I really have not gotten into uploading them.

    Anyways, I just stumbled across your site and I’d just like to tell you your pictures are wonderful. I’m into photography-bit myself and I’m (well with a photographer firend of mine) planning to come up with a coffee table book containing photos of ZC…


  4. pamalfaro said

    ON NUR NURANI: Thanks Nur. Yup, Ateneo Brebeuf ’97. 🙂 That’s a great plan. Let me know should you need help. 🙂

    Btw, nice photos. Did you take them yourself?

  5. Nur Nurani said

    Thanks! Sure appreciate that! Just finishing off on a project (another coffee table book I made for Ilocos), then I’ll work on the Zamboanga pictures. Tough work, but in the end its the satisfaction of seeing your work on print that counts.

    Thanks for browsing through my pics though. Too bad I only suceeded in posting a handful. I could send you some photos by email and tell me what you think of it. I could really use somebody else’s opinion on the text. Just post your email address on my blog. I couldn’t post pictures there by the way, because it kinda blocked me off. If you have facebook, I’ll be happy to share it with you.

  6. pamalfaro said

    ON NUR NURANI: Yes, I have facebook – mpralfaro@gmail.com 🙂

  7. Raul Bucoy said

    great Photos prims…missing zamboanga so bad…going home for 17 days this december

  8. pamalfaro said

    On RAUL: Thanks Prims. I miss taking photos now. Wow! Good for you! 🙂 Get-together before you head home? 🙂

  9. Raul Bucoy said

    yeah sure…I’ll be pretty packed this week though…I was asked by people asia magaine to cover philippine fashion week for their new magazine.

    maybe after all souls?

    btw, I’m adding you to my blogroll ok?

  10. pamalfaro said

    On RAUL: Surely! 🙂 Hope to see you soon. 🙂 Congrats for that new role! I can just imagine how happy you are. 🙂

  11. Hi Pamela, I grabbed your airport picture in this post and use it in http://holazamboanga.com/tourism/travel-guide/35-coming-to-and-getting-around-in-zamboanga . I hope it’s fine with you. Thanks.

  12. pamalfaro said

    @ RYANN: Thanks for dropping by and for letting me know that. 🙂

  13. sharon potter said

    Hi, I came across this page when I googled “knicker bucker”. The pictures are awesome, and you have beautifully described and showed the highlights of Zamboanga, my hometown too. I have not gone home in 11 years, up untilll last September. Unfortunately, my vacation was all jammed in just 2 weeks visiting one city to another. I’ve only spent 3 days in Zamboanga and haven’t had the chance to explore it as you did. Your page made me miss Zamboanga… There is no place like home indeed. Thank you.
    My husband and I are planning to visit the Philippines next year. Do you mind if I share this page to him and my friends? I had almost nothing to show them, shamefully… 🙂

    • pamalfaro said

      @SHARON: Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. There’s so much to do in Zamboanga, visiting and meeting with relatives and friends aside. I can imagine how your 3-day visit was not enough.

      Every time I head home, I always make it a point to have Palmera’s knieckerbucker and Tetuan’s ‘rebusao’. Plus, if I’m going home for parties, it’s always the ‘lechon’! 🙂 You can never have the same lechon anywhere else.

      Sure, Sharon. Please do share. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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