Food Trip: Zamboanga City

Zamboanga City is one of the best and most underrated places in the Philippines for food-tripping. The cuisine here is just as festive, colorful and diverse as the culture of the region. Because of their location near the Sulu Sea, you get a variety of fresh seafood. With Zamboanga’s rich history as a former Spanish settlement, Hispanic flavors and food preparation have been infused into dishes. The presence of ethnic tribes from the Sulu archipelago and the Malay peninsula, known for their use of exotic spices, have also added a unique flair to the cuisine that you don’t get anywhere else in the country.

From traditional Filipino and seafood dishes, regional specialties with “a touch of Spanish, American and Asian influences,” to ethnic delicacies, visitors to Zamboanga City are really in for a culinary treat. Here’s my pick of what and where to eat in Zamboanga City from various visits to “Asia’s Latin City” over the years.

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Memories of Zamboanga

This week, I was supposed to head to Zamboanga for a work-related project. However, it was deemed unwise to push through with the event after fighting suddenly broke out there between rebels and soldiers. After several days of the worst fighting in years between the MNLF faction and government forces exchanging gunfire in coastal neighborhoods, thousands have been displaced, their homes in ruins, and lives lost.

Below are a few snapshots I took in the village of Barangay Mariki near Rio Hondo in Zamboanga City, communities which were deeply affected by the fighting. This is how I remember Zamboanga City the most: innocent children full of hope who find simple joys playing on their village on stilts. Now that life is starting to pick up again after the hostilities, my prayers go out for everyone’s swift recovery. Zamboanga will rise again.

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Zamboanga’s Pink Sand Beach

Pink sand beaches are quite rare. There are a only a few of them around the world, the most famous of which can be found in Bahamas & Bermuda. Thankfully, we don’t have to travel abroad to set foot on one. The Greater Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City, in the southern region of the Philippines, is famed for having pink coralline sand.

This small inhabited island located in the Basilan Strait is just 4 km south of the downtown area of Zamboanga City. It can be reached within 20 minutes by motorized boats. In recent years, the beach has gained popularity as a tourist attraction in the city. I’m really glad to have visited this bucket-list worthy beach prior to my trip to Tawi-Tawi. Continue reading

Regatta de Zamboanga & La Hermosa Festival

Zamboanga City’s La Hermosa Festival which was held last October 7-12 was one of the most colorful festivals I’ve witnessed in the country. From the hundreds of vintas with their rainbow sails racing on the sea in the annual Regatta de Zamboanga, to the festive flurry of activities, it was like a gigantic box of crayons just spilled over the whole city. Beyond the elaborate floats and vibrant costumes of the street dancers, it was great to see the community spirit as locals took part in the different festivities. Here are a few snapshots from the event.

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Zamboanga: Merloquet Falls

From afar, Merloquet Falls looked like a white curtain pinned to a lush forest wall just flowing in the wind. Up close, the waterfalls was even more dramatic and grander than it looked. I kept the photo-taking short, as I wanted to join the locals who were relaxing under the cascades.

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"Hassle-to-bring-Home" Pinoy Pasalubong

Updated September 2014

I was at my desk at work when Arvin, an officemate, arrived carrying a long bulky item wrapped in brown cardboard and masking tape.

Ay naku, galing akong Baguio nung long weekend. So syempre may nagpabili ng walis.” (I just came from Baguio during the long weekend, so of course someone asked me to buy a broom).

This scenario got me thinking of items that are really such a hassle to take home as pasalubong (souvenirs), but we still buy for the sake of friends and family when we travel.


baguio brooms

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