Zamboanga City

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City of Zamboanga
Ph locator zamboanga del sur zamboanga.png
Region Region IX
Mayor Celso L. Lobregat (LDP)
Barangays 98
Physical characteristics
Area 1,483.38 km²
Total (2000) 601,794
Density 406/km²

Officially - The City of Zamboanga (Zamboangueño Chavacano/Spanish): Ciudad de Zamboanga is a first class, highly urbanized city in the Philippines and one of the first chartered cities in the country. Commonwealth Act No. 39 signed by President Manuel L. Quezon on October 12, 1936 in Malacañang created and established it as a chartered city. It has been known as "El Orgullo de Mindanao" (The Pride of Mindanao), nicknamed the "City of Flowers", and affectionately called by Zamboangueños as "Zamboanga Hermosa," Spanish for "Beautiful Zamboanga". Today, the city is commercially branded for tourism by the city government as "Asia's Latin City".

Zamboanga City's birthdate as a chartered city is also the date when the popular Fiesta del Pilar is celebrated in honor of the city's patron saint, Our Lady of the Pillar, whose statue is prominently embossed above the façade of the meter-thick walled fort on the northern side, El Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza (called El Real Fuerza de San José in its early days), built on June 23, 1635 by the Spanish Jesuit priest Fr. Melchor de Vera as a Spanish military fort in defense against pirates and slave raiders. Zamboanga City is one of the oldest cities in the country and the most hispanicized. It is also one of the largest cities in the world in terms of area, with over 1,480 km², including its 28 surrounding islands.

According to the 2000 census, the city has a population of 601,794 people in 177,152 households. It is the 6th most populous in the country. Zamboanga City has been the center of commerce, trade, health services, and education for all of the Western Mindanao Region. It is the seat of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority (popularly known as Zamboecozone).

The Official and/or Native language of Zamboanga City is Zamboangueño Chavacano, a Philippine-Spanish Creole. Other common languages in the city are Tagalog, English and Bisaya/Cebuano. Fookien (a Chinese dialect) and Tausug are also prevalent. Approximately 64% of the city’s population consists of the native families of the old Zamboanga, who were greatly influenced by the Spanish culture and lifestyle which is now called as a pure Chavacano de Zamboanga or Zamboangueño. Whilst 36% of the city’s population is composed of cultural minority members, groups of Muslim communities, such as the Subanens, Tausugs, Yakans, Samals, and the Badjaos are dispersed around the city.

Zamboanga is home to three universities: Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Western Mindanao State University, and the newly-elevated Universidad de Zamboanga. The city is also home of the first Catholic diocese in Mindanao, today's Archdiocese of Zamboanga, created in 1910 and elevated to an archbishopric in 1958.




The city is located on the southernmost tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula, on the western part of the main island of Mindanao. It is 460 nautical miles south of Manila, 365 nautical miles northeast of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, and 345 nautical miles northeast of Manado in Indonesia. It is bounded on to the west by the Sulu Sea, to the east by the Moro Gulf, and to the south by the Basilan Strait and Celebes Sea. It is about 1 1/2 hours away by plane from Manila and an hour away from both the cities of Cebu and Davao.


The city has a naturally mild climate with a pronounced dry or wet season — relatively dry from November to May, wet during the rest of the year.

Tropical cyclones or typhoons rarely affect the city because it is outside the typhoon belt. Average temperature is about 27 °C or 80.6 °F, while annual rainfall is 1,362.01 mm.


Zamboanga City has 28 islands off its mainland's coast. They officially belong to the city's jurisdiction and in every aspect. Some of these islands are inhabited, while others are frequented for scuba diving and fishing. The Santa Cruz Islands are famous for their pink coral sandy beaches which are considered rare in the world. The islands are rich in coral, shell varieties (over half of the world's known shell varieties are found in the Sulu Sea which surrounds these islands), and sea life. The islands are:

  • Bacungan Island
  • Baong Island
  • Bobo Island
  • Buguias Island
  • Cabog Island
  • Camugan Island
  • Gatusan Island
  • Great Santa Cruz Island
  • Kablingan Island
  • Lambang Island
  • Lamunigan Island
  • Lapinigan Island
  • Little Malanipa Island
  • Little Santa Cruz Island
  • Malanipa Island
  • Panganaban Island
  • Pangapuyan Island
  • Pitas Island
  • Sacol Island
  • Salangan Island
  • Sinunug Island
  • Taguiti Island
  • Tictabon Island
  • Tigburacao Island
  • Tumalutap Island
  • Vilan Vilan Island
  • Visa Island
  • Vitali Island


Zamboanga City has 98 barangays:

Map of the City of Zamboanga showing location of barangays
  • Abong Abong
  • Arena Blanco
  • Ayala
  • Baliwasan
  • Baluno
  • Boalan
  • Bolong
  • Buenavista
  • Bunguiao
  • Busay
  • Cabaluay
  • Cabatangan
  • Cacao
  • Calabasa
  • Calarian
  • Camino Nuevo
  • Campo Islam
  • Canelar
  • Capisan
  • Cawit
  • Culianan
  • Curuan
  • Daap
  • Dita
  • Divisoria
  • Dulian (Upper Bunguiao)
  • Dulian (Upper Pasonanca)
  • Guisao
  • Guiwan
  • Kasanyangan
  • La Paz
  • Labuan
  • Lamisahan
  • Landang Gua
  • Landang Laum
  • Lanzones
  • Lapakan
  • Latuan (Curuan)
  • Licomo
  • Limaong
  • Limpapa
  • Lubigan
  • Lumayang
  • Lumbangan
  • Lunzuran
  • Maasin
  • Malagutay
  • Mampang
  • Manalipa
  • Mangusu
  • Manicahan
  • Mariki
  • Mercedes
  • Muti
  • Pamucutan
  • Pangapuyan
  • Panubigan
  • Pasilmanta (Sacol Island)
  • Pasobolong
  • Pasonanca
  • Patalon
  • Putik
  • Quiniput
  • Recodo (formerly La Caldera)
  • Rio Hondo
  • Salaan
  • San Jose Cawa-Cawa
  • San Jose Gusu
  • San Roque
  • Sangali
  • Sibulao (Curuan)
  • Sinubong
  • Sinunoc
  • Sta. Barbara
  • Sta. Catalina
  • Sta. Maria
  • Sto. Niño
  • Tagasilay
  • Taguiti
  • Talabaan
  • Talisayan
  • Talon-Talon
  • Taluksangay
  • Tetuan
  • Tictapul
  • Tigbalabag
  • Tigtabon
  • Tolosa
  • Tugbungan
  • Tulungatung
  • Tumaga
  • Tumalutab
  • Tumitus
  • Victoria
  • Vitali
  • Zambowood
  • Zone I
  • Zone II
  • Zone III
  • Zone IV


The area around Zamboanga Peninsula has been occupied by indigenous people as early as 30,000 years ago. The first inhabitants were the Subanons and Lutaos and later, the Islamized ethnic groups of Samals, Bajaus, Tausugs, and Yakans.

Oral history says the early Austronesian settlers - the highlander Subanons or the people who live by the suba or river and the Lutaos of the plains called the place "Jambangan", meaning a place abundant with flowers. Eventually, the lowlanders (the descendants of the early Austronesian settlers), the boat dwellers and sea gypsy tribes - the Bajaus amd Samals collectively called the place "Samboangan." Apparently, "Samboangan" came from the word "Jambangan." In one of the earliest Spanish maps, the place was already called Samboangan which meant as "docking point". Samboangan, though, was thought to have come from the word "sabuan" - the wooden pole used by the Samals and Bajaus in pushing their boats on shallow waters. The early Spaniards called the place "El Pueblo de Lutao" or the place of Lutaos.

Fort Pilar, now an outdoor principal Marian shrine, was founded in 1635 by the Spanish colonial government and was the focus of a number of battles between Moro pirates and Spanish soldiers until 1718 when modifications to the fort were made.

During the American colonial period, Zamboanga City hosted a number of American regional governors, including General John J. Pershing who was military commander/governor of the Moro Province from 1909 to 1914. The Moro Province was administered directly from the city.

Prior to World War II, Zamboanga City was the center of commerce, trade, and government in the whole of Mindanao being the capital of the Mindanao Province and Zamboanga Province. In the city during the second world war, Pettit Barracks was where part of the US Army's 43d Infantry Regiment (PS) was stationed. After the invasion of the Philippines, the Japanese occupying forces landed at Zamboanga on March 2, 1942 where they formed a defense headquarters which was eventually taken by US forces in 1945.

Zamboanga City has had a diverse history of evolving from a small Spanish fort, a U.S. governed capital of the Moro Province in Mindanao Island, one of the first chartered cities in the Philippine Commonwealth, a war-torn town after World War II under Japanese occupation, to strife-torn city under martial law and recurrent terrorists attacks, and still managing to keep its historical composure and purpose, elevating itself and the entire Zamboanga area in becoming the number one Gross Domestic Productivity (GDP) area in the entire Philippines in 2006. Its steadfast growth and evolution is a reflection of its diversified economy and resourceful people, spearheaded by its responsible city government.

Since the 1990s, Zamboanga City has been erroneously associated with kidnappings and attempted kidnappings and extortion of Westerners by the organized terrorist group known as the Abu Sayyaf because news stories have often been datelined from there. Journalists file their stories from the safe confines of the city where also the Philippine military Southern Command base is located. The city is generally peaceful, safe, and free from terrorists and their activities.

But on October 17, 2002, two bombs exploded in the main business district of the city killing six and wounding about 150. In 2003, Zamboanga City was used as a base for 300 US military advisors to the Philippine Army in their operations against the perpetrators. The city has also been used as a location for military exercises between US and Philippine soldiers for the Balikatan - a joint military exercise to help fight terrorism in southern Philippines.

The Manila-based Philippine government has in the past warned foreigners, including diplomats, to stay away from the city. The U.S. Department of State, from time to time, has been issuing several official advisories to foreigners against traveling to this area. However, there has not been an actual incident against a foreigner in recent years.

The Philippine Department of Tourism is helping Celso L. Lobregat, the city mayor, to promote the city as an attractive and safe tourist destination, particularly after US Special Forces trainers helped upgrade local troops and police with anti-terror know-how and resources. In 2007, Zamboanga will be divided into two separate districts in the east and west coast areas (including the city proper). Erbie Fabian is Zamboanga City's current representative to the Philippine Congress.

15 June 2007 (UTC)The "Province" Issue: In recent years, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ZamBaSulTa chapter, wanted to divide Zamboanga city into seven municipalities creating a new province to "hasten the development of rural or remote areas." There are some planned to create a metropolis out of the present day Zamboanga City. Opinions in local tabloids urged Zamboanguenos to support the creation of the province. But most of the Zamboanguenos declined the creation of the province which will result to the suffering of economy, making progression in Zamboanga "back to zero."


Central Business District of Zamboanga City

The Zamboanga economy is largely agricultural and aquacultural-based. Agriculture and fishing provide activity and income to 70% of the population. The city territory includes 560 km² of arable lands and 700 km² of permanent crops, mainly coconut. The city's farmers produce 86,000 metric tons of coconut a year, 26,000 metric tons of rice and 11,000 metric tons of corn. Average annual production of fish – from the sea or raised in fishponds inland – is about 1,600 metric tons.

Zamboanga City has emerged in recent years as a principal producer of seaweed. Seaweed farming occupies close to 2,000 Zamboangueño farmers and 4.07 km² offshore. Average annual production is 14,000 metric tons. Some consider the city’s economic prospects as bright with the value of investments increasing since 1993. From 1993 to 1994 the increase was 332%. From 1994 to 1995 it was 42%.

Exports grew by 6% in 1995, and it continues to grow. The top export items are coconut oil, marine products, and processed food. As part of its effort to boost economic development, the Zamboanga City government has committed forty-four percent of its total budget to economic and infrastructure projects in recent years.

Zamboanga City is home to 60 banks (including branches), 49 pawnshops, 20 credit cooperatives and seven lending institutions. Most of the banks operate automated teller machines. Supplied with energy by the National Power Corporation, the city at present has more electricity than it can use. In 1994, only 72% of the available power was consumed, with this ratio increasing by three percentage points in 1995.

Local economic planners have concluded that the most viable opportunities for investors are in food processing, wood and forest-based products, coconut-based products, marine products, gifts, toys and house wares, machine and equipment fabrication, garment manufacturing, ceramics, and low-cost housing.


Ninety-nine per cent of the local road network is paved with concrete. In the rural areas, the government has constructed 667 kilometers of farm-to-market roads. A law established a free port and special economic zone in the city known as Zamboecozone which is the only free port in the country outside of Luzon.

Zamboanga City has 19 seaports and wharves, twelve of which are privately-owned. The biggest and most modern is the government-operated main port which can accommodate 20 ships at any given time. There are 25 shipping lines whose vessels regularly call at the port of Zamboanga.

The local airport has been upgraded to Zamboanga International Airport and can service international flights, although no regular international flights come to the city. Four airlines make regular trips to Zamboanga: Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and Asian Spirit. Others are expected to enter the Zamboanga route soon.

Asian Spirit will soon have regular flights from Zamboanga to Sandakan, Malaysia

Taxi service in the city is not well-established, although there are some independent taxis. The common mode of transportation in Zamboanga is by a Jeepney or a Tricycle.


It is believed that Zamboanga City's power surplus is set to grow. A Napocor contractor is currently building a power plant in the east coast that will produce 100 megawatts of electricity. City water is clean and sweet, and its supply is adequate. In 1994 only 48% of the total water production was consumed; in 1995 only 58%.

The Zamboanga City Water District is expanding its reservoir and distribution system to meet the growing industrial demand for water. Zamboanga City is also the communications center of Western Mindanao. Local communications services include conventional and cellular telephone systems with direct distance dialing, paging services, telegraph and facsimile services, and the Internet.

Foreign relations

Zamboanga is an important part of BIMP-EAGA area which stands for Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area. BIMP-EAGA is an agreement among the four Southeast Asian neighbor countries for economic cooperation. It has put Zamboanga City in touch with towns in Malaysia and Indonesia. As a result of contacts arising from BIMP-EAGA, a sea route has been opened between Zamboanga City and Sandaka in Malaysia.


  • Dia de Zamboanga

February 26 Charter Day of the City. A roster of special activities are lined up annually to mark the occasion.

March/April (movable) A city procession known as the Santo Entierro (Holy Funeral) on Good Friday highlights the observance of the season of Lent. Celebrated in barangays Sta. Maria, Tetuan, and the Immaculate Conception Parish, the Santo Entierro is a procession of Christ's images, many of the Stations of the Cross, along the city's main streets, depicting his last hours before, during, and after the Crucifixion.

  • Flores de Mayo

May 1 - 31 A religious feast celebrated in all Catholic churches in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Little children in white gala dresses walk up the altar to offer flowers to the image of the Blessed Mother. In some parts of the city, the traditional Santacruzan is also held. The Santa-cruzan is a procession of the Reyna Elena and other local beauties with their escorts, decked out in Maria Clara gowns and barong tagalogs, along major streets.

  • Isra Wal Miraj

May 9 An Islamic event celebrating the nocturnal journey and ascension of the Holy Prophet Mohammad.

  • Eid al-Fitr/Hari Raya Puasa

An Islamic event commemorating the end of the Muslim fasting season.

  • Zamboanga Hermosa Festival (Fiesta Pilar)

October 3-12 Highlighted by the October 12 Fiesta Pilar in honor of the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Pillar at the legendary Fort Pilar. The festival features week-long novena masses, cultural shows, agricultural fairs, art/ photo/flower garden exhibits, a two-day mardi gras parade, the bandoreal, a regatta, torch parades, fireworks, and carnivals. It all ends with a solemn procession and a mass at the Fort. With thousands of pilgrims converging in Zamboanga City, this is the peninsula's biggest, most-awaited, and entrancing fiesta!

  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception

December 8 Feast day of Zamboanga City, commemorating the Blessed Virgin's Immaculate Conception; traditionally celebrated with a procession and a concelebrated mass highlighted by either First Communion or Ordination rites.

  • Maulidin-Nabi

December 27 An Islamic celebration honoring the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.


  • Fort Pilar - is the landmark of the city's history and culture. It is presently served as a shrine that is located in the former garrison. Thousands of devotees as well as Mindanao and foreign tourists flock to the shrine and appreciate its significance. The Fort area includes a national museum and a patio. Several events commemorating citywide celebrations and feasts are also held within.
  • City Hall (city proper) - The construction of this building started in 1905 and was completed in 1907 by the Federal Government of the United States for the then American Governors of the area which included: Leonard 0. Wood, Tasker H. Bliss, Ralph W. Hoyt, and Gen. John Pershing of World War I fame. Today, this serves as the City Hall of Zamboanga City where the Mayor holds office.
  • Pasonanca Park - a barrio north of city proper, known for its greenery. It includes a public swimming pool, a treehouse, a campsite and convention centers like Regency Astoria, and the Zamboanga Convention Center.
  • Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zamboanga; built in 1998-2000, a two-leveled cathedral with a columbarium and a chapel located at the ground floor, and the main church at the second level. It is considered as the most modern cathedral in Mindanao. Originally located in pre-war Zamboanga at the present site of Universidad de Zamboanga, it was reconstructed twice at La Purisima St., in 1956 and 1998.
  • Pettit Barracks- Occupied by US forces under Gen. C. Bates after the Capture of the city on November 15, 1899. It was named Pettit Barracks after Col. James S. Pettit, 31st Infantry, US Volunteer Commanding Officer of the Second Military District. He was later promoted to General, became the Inspector-General and later, the in-Charge of Civil Affairs of Zamboanga, Inspector-General's Department, US Infantry. Occupied by Japanese forces in 1942-1945, it was recaptured by US liberation forces on March 10, 1945 and turned over to the Philippines on July 4, 1946.
  • Assemblyman Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Complex - A sports complex of 57,500 square metres considered one of the most modern in the country. Ten contractors and 1,500 workers joined hands to complete the facility in time for the March 6, 1992 Palarong Pambansa (National Games). Total construction cost was a little over P64-million. The latest synthetic rubberized coating known as Super AG was used for the oval, only the second in the world after one in Saudi Arabia.
  • Taluksangay Village - A Muslim dominated barrio located outside of the city proper; known for its colourful mosque
  • Yakan Weaving Village - a Yakan community in Zamboanga which specializes traditional Yakan weaving and other items like jars and gongs
  • Popular beaches in Bolong, La Vista del Mar and Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach resort in Calarian, and the Great Sta. Cruz Island.
  • Vintas are colorful boats traditionally made by the native Bajau, Banguingui, and Tausugs.
  • Zamboanga Barter Markets - There are 4 barter markets: BCC Shopping Center in Baliwasan, Sta. Cruz Market, Port Area, and Canelar. These are where one can shop for imported merchandise from Europe, the US, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. On sale are textiles, houseware, blankets, batik cloth, umbrellas, toys, canned goods, toiletries, and electronic items.

Shopping Malls


  • Garden Orchid Hotel - Gov. Camins Avenue
  • Grand Astoria Hotel - Mayor Jaldon Street
  • Marcian Garden Hotel - Gov. Camins Avenue
  • Lantaka Hotel by the Sea - N. Valderossa Street
  • Jardin dela Vina - Gov. Alvarez Avenue
  • Hermosa Hotel
  • Preciousa Hotel
  • Perlita Hotel
  • Skypark Hotel - has the Best Japanese Restaurant in Mindanao
  • Azenith Royal Hotel
  • Hotel Salwa
  • Mag-V Royal Hotel
  • GC Hotel
  • Amil's Tower Hotel


Zamboanga City is home to three universities and numerous colleges and institutes.

List of the different educational institutions in Zamboanga City:

  • A.B. Simpson Evangelical School
  • AMA Computer Learning Center
  • Arturo Eustaquio Memorial Science High School- Universidad de Zamboanga Main Campus, Tetuan
  • Ateneo de Zamboanga High School - Tumaga
  • Ateneo de Zamboanga University - La Purisima St.
  • Avalokitesvara High School
  • Bethany Child Development Center- Gov. Ramos St., Sta. Maria
  • Brent Hospital and Colleges Inc.
  • Claret High School - San Jose Rd.
  • Creche Learning School - Tetuan
  • Ebenezer Bible College and Seminary
  • Filipinas Technical Institute- San Jose Road
  • Filipino Turkish Tolerance High School
  • Immaculate Conception Archdiocesan School- HS -Upper Calarian
  • Immaculate Conception Archdiocesan School- HS -Tetuan
  • ICAS-College -Tetuan
  • Immaculate Conception Archdiocesan School- HS -Sangali
  • Philippine Islamic College - Campo Muslim
  • J-Jireh High School- Suterville
  • Mindanao Electronics Institute College (MEIN)- San Jose Gusu
  • Montessori De Zamboanga (MDZ) - Tumaga/Sta. Maria
  • Pastor Bonus Seminary-Tetuan
  • Pilar College & High School
  • Regional Science High School- Malasiga, San Roque
  • Saint Augustine School of Nursing- Guiwan Highway
  • Saint Joseph School- Gov. Camins Avenue
  • STI College - Zamboanga - Gov. Lim Avenue
  • Sto. Niño Village High School
  • Southern City High School/College - Pilar Street
  • Universidad de Zamboanga (formerly Zamboanga Arturo Eustaquio Colleges)
  • Western Mindanao Cooperative College
  • Western Mindanao State University (formerly Zamboanga Normal School)
  • Zamboanga A.E. Science High School
  • Zamboanga Chong Hua High School
  • Zamboanga City Academy - San Jose Rd.
  • Zamboanga City State Polytechnic College - R.T. Lim Blvd.
  • Zamboanga General Hospital School of Nursing
  • Zamboanga Polytechnic College
  • Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Tech
  • Zamboanga Veritas School - Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City
  • Zion Evangelical School - Canelar Moret

See Also

External links

Online news

Original Source

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