Unlike other tourist attractions in the Philippines which I want to visit, Zamboanga City has been the least of my priorities. The constant negations I hear from the media halted me to explore this city's beauty. Until I met Ryan, my boyfriend, who happens to be a Zamboangueno. They are also addressed as Chavacanos (this is what you call to the "broken spanish" dialect they use). Having the opportunity to take a look at their place, I fell in love to Zamboanga. The blend of beauty and thrill made Zamboanga a MUST-VISIT.
I stayed for 20 days in Zamboanga City and toured their streets via a motorcycle which happens to be one of the abundant transport vehicles of the place. Innovated motorcycles according to such preference is a trend in the city. No taxicabs, only motorcycles, tricycles, jeepneys, vans and private cars. Now I understood why my boyfriend was really fascinated with motorcycles even they own a car. He actually can recognize the varied models from different companies. Well, it is a product of the upbringing of their community. It is cool by the way.
Anyway, this blog focuses on my top 10 list on how to have the ultimate experience in your Zamboanga City vacation.
1) Paseo del Mar
First night in Zamboanga? spend it perfectly at Paseo del Mar. This place is my favorite part of the city. Restaurants and bars stud the place making it the main gimik area of their pueblo. It is situated just beside the shore. The counterpart of Roxas Boulevard of Manila, only that this place has an array of food havens. The freshness of the air from the sea which breezes on you makes it more suitable for relaxation while you are jamming with your friends. They also mounted a dancing fountain which adds up beauty on this attraction. Truly a great place for family and friends. I went back here for a couple of times during my stay. one visit is not enough I guarantee.
2) Pasonanca Park Night Life
Inside Barangay Pasonanca is the known Pasonanca Park. Ryan and I had extra time to take a peek what is inside the Pasonanca Park. A stairway uphill leading to the Statue of St. Francis of Assisi, is the new add-up to the park according to Ryan. Dancing Fountain backdropped th Statue while Chavacano songs are being played. There is something about Zamboanguenos, they are really SWEET compared to other Filipinos. Here in Pasanonca Park you'll be surprised to the number of couples dating inside. Everywhere you look, you will surely see couples claiming the bench or spot. As for us, we tried the trend too. Why not right? :))
What is less revealed in adverts is the mushrooming bars and restaurants in Barangay Pasonanca. Surrounding the park are bars that really light up during night to dawn. Best time to go is on weekends where beautiful and handsome Zamboanguenos flock and hop the different bars. Some bars hire bands during weekends.
3) Mano-mano lunch or dinner
Good food in a reasonable price, that is what you can have in Mano-Mano (mano means hands). After a long day, our empty stomachs were best refilled by the good selection of food in this restaurant. They have two branches, the one in Paseo del Mar and the other one in Greenfield. We tried both actually but better service and more food selection is seen in Greenfield. The place is well-landscaped inside. The crew is attentive and friendly. We ordered Crispy Pata, Mixed Seafoods, Calamares, Platter of Rice. And honestly, we got the best value of our money.
4) Mall Hop!
Unlike other cities, Zamboanga remained conservative when it comes to allowing big multi-million companies to put up malls in their place. Until now, the ones owning the malls and businesses are their own people. My boyfriend told me that big mall owners have long been wanting to put up their business here but the current leader does not allow such in order to maintain the culture of the place. Reason I don't exactly understand.
Anyway, there are still few malls you can enjoy in the pueblo. Just near Plaza Pershing and City Hall are Gateway, MindPro, Midtown and Limtown Center. We often visit MindPro because it is the biggest among the malls there. Cinemas are available in MindPro only for P100. Wanted to try it but no good films were screened that time.
5) Visit Abong Abong, joyride and catch the sunset
Best if you are on a motorcycle when you visit here since it is quite far from pueblo (city). It is a must-see especially for Roman Catholics. You'll be doing an uphill climb to reach the different Stations of the cross. The peak will treat you a marvelous view of Zamboanga especially during sunset. Wondering if i got my treat? kind of.. we took the different road and still drove through the mountainous terrain. I saw the sun as it kisses goodbye, just amazing.
6) Victoria's Pool and other resorts
One of the usual activities we do during our vacation is taking a plunge. In Zamboanga, that activity is catered well by the number of resorts they also have. Vista del Mar, Lantaka, and Victoria's (the one I visited with Ryan's family) are a few of what's on the list. Victoria's is a simple pool place with free flowing water which made swimming more fresh. You can bring your food without corkage and even grill the meat you brought there. This is a good place for family bonding.
7) WMSU main campus and extension
Ryan's mom happens to be a professor of agriculture in WMSU, thus we had a number of visits to the school. Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) is a state university offering standard education on a cheap price. Most of Zamboanguenos wanted to get scholarship from this school because of its prestige. Glad I happen to see their campus. The campus for agriculture and forestry located in San Ramon is huge and a must-see. Beside it is Ecozone, another place you can drop by and enjoy. They have a pool inside.
8) Fort Pilar and museum
Spend one of your sundays attending the mass in Fort Pilar. Utter your prayer and let their Patron, saint, Our Virgin Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza, hear you. Visiting Fort Pilar is one of the things I liked in my Zamboanga vacation. The dainty landscape of the place is rewarding to the eyes. It is as if you are tranported to the ancient years.
9) The Pueblo. Take time to taste the food that can only be found in Zamboanga.
The pueblo (city) is truly the heart of Zamboanga City. Its parameter is not that huge thus it is easy to navigate. Everything you need is in there. Malls, food stations, super markets, name it and it's just around the corner. I got fond of tasting good food Zamboanga style and yes got tummy-fiiled almost everyday! Must visit: Speedy Pizza, Flavorite for Palabok and Early Birds in Putik for Shawarma.
10) Learn how to speak Chavacano from the locals.
And lastly, don’t you ever dare to leave Zamboanga without learning Chavacano. Learn words from the locals and speak back to the locals. In due time, you did not only learn chavacano, but you have also earned a little knowhow on Spanish.