Everytime I travel, I do a little research beforehand and put it in my handy dandy notebook. Either I print it out or write it down. On our Zamboanga trip, I listed some where-to's and what-to's but then I didn't plan out a detailed itinerary (I never did one - ever). So after looking for a pension house in Atilano compound, we went out for a late lunch/early dinner food trip.
From our lodge, we took a pueblo-bound jeepney and paid 7 pesos each for the trip. I was eyeing to get into the city tourism office to get a free map. The pueblo is so much like a typical downtown area in Manila - it's so busy.
In this very diversed city, it would be very typical to see and experience a healthy environment for everyone - no matter who you are and what you believe in. I would like my students to go there and experience how it is to be a minority so that they would feel how it is to be one and later on they would realize that having a classmate from another region of the country is a blessing rather than a liability or an object of mockery.
Also, it is very normal to see policemen and military men roaming around the city with their unpretentious firearms. One would either feel safe because of them or alarmed because it connotes terror to some. But then they were just doing their jobs. A typical day for them. And whether you feel safe or alarmed the important thing is that they are there for everyone - it didn't make sense I know. End of digression.
So we were at the Zamboanga City Hall and noticed that all of the flags were at half-mast state and then we realized that it was because of Secretary Robredo's death (last week of August 2012). We asked for directions on where to find the city tourism office. Apparently, it was at the end of the road from the city hall - far end of the Pilar street. It was quite a long walk but it was nice to hear people speaking in their native Chavacano dialect and the view of old structures such as the oldest Bank of the Philippine Islands branch in the city which also houses the BPI museum installed just this year. Just so you know, I used to work in the said bank for 2 years as a bank teller.
|Zamboanga city hall|
And then we reached the Zamboanga City Tourism Office just right outside the gate of the Paseo del Mar. We went in and asked for a free map of the city. We also asked about the Sta.Cruz island trip the next day. The tourism officers were so accommodating and even gave us a brief discourse about the Latin City of Asia - as stated at the map.
We went out of the office and were flocked by some young vendors. They were selling candles that were the size of ballpoint pens and of different colors. It was for 1 peso each. The young lady explained to us the meaning of the certain colors. She was insisting me to buy the color white for "purity". I was asking for other colors but she was really pushing me to buy the white colored ones (so di ako pure?!). I ended up buying 20 pieces of different colors and she pointed us to the Our Lady of the Pilar Shrine.
It was a Saturday and there was a mass held at that time. The shrine is not your typical wall-ceiling structure, it was adjacent to one of the walls of the Fort Pilar. We sat for a while and then went to where the candles should be burned. We went there, said a prayer and lighted the candles.
|Zamboanga City Tourism Office|
|gotta love free maps|
|Our Lady of the Pilar shrine|
Just beside the shrine is the National Museum - Zamboanga City branch. It is housed inside the Fort Pilar and an adult entrance fee is at 20 pesos per person and 10 pesos for students. There were a few exhibits at different galleries around the museum and what I loved the most was the city's art and culture exhibit. We also went on the second level to get a nice view of the sea. I learned so much from the exhibits and gave a thumbs up sign to the curator.
Next stop was the Paseo del Mar. The etymology of which is that the word Paseo - "a public walk or boulevard" and del mar - "from the sea" or "of the sea". So you do the math, oh I mean the translation. It houses the famous "Musically Gyrating Dancing Fountain". We were able to catch the first show at 6:30 p.m. and people flocked at the fountain to watch it "dance". We thought at first that the show will last for about 5 minutes tops. But it lasted for almost 15 minutes.
The fountain "danced" with music from different genres (even classical music) and what I remembered was this certain upbeat local song of Zamboanga. The people sung along and even dancing in the few parts. Some of the people were at a boxing ring (set-up) in the middle of the park and some were at the breakwater to witness the majestic sunset. It was refreshing to see how people go to parks with their families and friends for leisure. I just wish that mall tycoons would spare the city from their plans. This would definitely ruin the laidback atmosphere of the city.
|no malls please!|
|sunset at the boulevard|
|Musically Gyrating Dancing Fountain|
Going back to the lodge, we walked up to city hall again and looked for a Canelar/airport - bound jeepney. But then I realized that I needed to buy some things from the grocery and we passed by the Plaza Pershing and saw a mini version of the gyrating fountain there.
We did a walkathon. It's a steep road so you need extra effort to get into the park. We passed by the Jardin Maria Clara Lobregat and decided to get inside their butterfly garden - we paid 5 pesos each for the entrance fee. And then we hopped on a pueblo-bound jeepney and paid 10 pesos each to go back to the downtown. And then we saw the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion in one of the streets so I shouted Para and then realized that I need to knock the ceiling to make the driver stop the jeepney. And so we did, but we didn't get to go inside the church though.
|Maria Clara Lobregat|
|Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion|
Our Zamboanga stint was more than a well-spent long weekend. It's more of cultural awareness and realizing your identity as a Filipino whether you're from Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao.
Check out Zamboanga City accommodations here
Check out Zamboanga City accommodations here