The City of Zamboanga is a highly urbanized, independent and a chartered city located in Mindanao, Philippines. It is now the centre of economic activities in Mindanao with its modern international seaport, which is one of the principal ports of call for inter-island and international shipping. Its airport, which also classified as an international airport, provides air transportation to various domestic destinations. Both seaport and airport serve as transshipment points of various goods to neighboring cities and countries.
Quetal Ustedes? From the moment you hear those lifting words, you realize it’s true. Here indeed is a quaint pocket of history torn from mainland Spain. A place unlike any other in the Philippines.
While Spain’s three-century reign left its indelible imprint on the country, nowhere was its legacy perhaps so concentrated and embedded than in Zamboanga, which took for its native tongue, Chabacano, the delightful mix of 60% Español and 40% native words.
Santa Cruz Island in Zamboanga City
There is more to Zamboanga than this. As far back as the 13th and 14th centuries, it was already a trading center with a vibrant culture of its own, emblazoned against the horizon in the vivid colors of the native vinta sails that fluttered gaily off its shores. And when the Castillan flag of Spain first appeared in the horizon off Caldera Bay (now Recodo) in 1593, Zamboanga opened another epoch in its colorful heritage, one that would leave a legacy so rooted that from it would spring much of the city’s romance and allure.
The best recuerdo of la presencia de España in Zamboanga was and remains to be Fort Pilar, the coastal fort built in 1635 around which the city first grew. In time, it became a shrine to Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza, especially after miracles that are now part of legends and Zamboanga folklore.
It was in Zamboanga that Christianity gained a foothold in Mindanao. The Archdiocese of Zamboanga covered all of Mindanao, except Sulu where Islam and the Tausug culture proved every bit as dynamic as Spain’s influence.