Monday, August 25, 2008

Zamboanga City, Asia's Latin City

My mom invited me to join her in visiting a classmate who was going to get wed last month in Zamboanga City. Because I haven't been to the city, which is located in Southern Philippines, I eagerly joined her thinking that I can also go around. Zamboanga City is nicknamed as Asia's Latin City due to its culture and native language called Chavacano, a blending of languages and dialects, majority of which is Spanish in nature. We booked a flight with Cebu Pacific, a low-cost airline in the Philippines and departed from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Domestic Terminal early Saturday morning.


We arrived an hour and a half later in Zamboanga International Airport, the main airport serving the city and nearby provinces.


Cebu Pacific plane


The terminal is old and facilities, though just enough, are quite outdated for one with an international status. Upon entering the arrival area, we proceeded to the baggage carousel to get our bags.


We stayed in GC Hotel, a place owned by the classmate of my mom whom we are visiting.


Because it was still early and we have nothing else to do, another classmate of my mom invited us to go around first. We went to Lantaka Hotel by the Sea to chill out and have coffee. In there is a centuries old cannon used during the Spanish era.


There was also a colorful vinta sail, though it is not attached to a boat.


And of course, a beautiful scenery of the beach! It wasn't the best but it's good enough considering we are in a city.


After having coffee, we went out to have lunch at Hai San Seafood Market & Restaurant. The restaurant boasts of a lot of food and delicacies, mostly seafood.


Small fishes in an omelette and crispy shrimps


Steamed fish


We didn't do much for the remainder of the day aside from meeting their classmates who also flew in and rest in the hotel.

The next day was a full-day tour for all of us, including other friends and classmates of those that are to be wed.


First thing that we visited is the El Fuerza Real de Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza, known as Fort Pilar. It is a 17th century fortress used by the Spanish government during colonial period.


Housed inside Fort Pilar is a branch of National Museum


Courtyard of Fort Pilar


Beside the Fort Pilar, at its other end is the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar


Tricycles, which is actually a motorbike connected with a sidecar for the passengers. This is one of the major modes of public transportation in the city.


We also visited the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Concepcion, the biggest Roman Catholic church in the city. It is also one of the most modern-looking churches I've seen in the country.


We also went to a "barter trade" center as they call it. It is actually an open air, dry market selling goods from other nearby countries like Malaysia.


We also passed went to Pasonanca Park where a famous Tree House is located sitting on an Acacia tree.


The treehouse is a famous landmark among visitors because it is famous for being an open house. One can stay here for a night just be notifying the city government and setting a schedule.


Beside the Tree House is a Boy Scout of the Philippines camping site.


For lunch, the group had a buffet meal at the Lantaka Hotel.


After lunch, we went back to the hotel to rest for a couple of hours and then we proceed with the tour of the city. We were brought to the Yakan Village, a place where a group of people of the same namesake live. They are famous for their art of weaving and sell their goods here for a reasonable (not necessarily cheap) price.


We went next to the Ayuda Badjao or the Badjao Livelihood Training Center. The Badjaos, like the Yakans, is another group of community, but they are famous for weaving mats.


We were shown a number of colorful mats of different sizes.


I also saw a man constructing a boat in the place. I haven't seen one doing woodcraft like this before.


Last thing we visited is a Chinese Buddhism temple where the others had an offering and prayed.


The next day, right before the wedding, I decided to take a walk and go to the city center, which is a few minutes away from where we are staying.

I passed by Plaza Pershing, a park in the middle of the city named after General John Joseph "Blackjack" Pershing, who once served as the governor general of Zamboanga.


Nearby is the City Hall, a beautiful building reminiscent of Spanish architecture, though built during American colonization period. It is also the oldest government building in Mindanao. In front of it is a monument of Jose Rizal, Philippines' National Hero.


Just beside the City Hall is a branch of Bank of the Philippine Islands. Nothing much special here except this is the oldest building of the bank and is its second branch ever established.


Nearby is Universidad de Zamboanga.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dambana ng Kagitingan

Going back from Bataan White Corals in Morong, Bataan on the way to Manila, we passed by the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor). It is a memorial erected on top of Mount Samat in Pilar, Bataan to honor the soldiers who fought in World War II. Its main piece, a huge cross, can be seen from kilometers away and has always drove passersby to go and visit the monument.


Depiction of memorable and historical events are in the foot of the cross.


Me at the cross


There is an observatory level on the cross that is accessible from the elevator.


From above, the vast greens and other areas of the memorial can be seen.


Me


Around the cross is a park where one can stay and chill out.


The Philippine flag and the cross


Around the area is a list of the the soldiers who fought for the war, a small museum and an esplanade.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bataan White Corals Beach Resort

May 1 in the Philippines is celebrated as the Labor Day and as such, is a holiday in the country. This year, our family spent the day and a few more succeeding ones at the Bataan White Corals Beach Resort. The resort is located in Morong, Bataan, almost 3 hours away from Manila.


The shoreline sand of the beach was a shade of a lighter gray.


Boat


Like us, there were also other families who took advantage of the holidays to chill out amidst a very hot summer.


Swimming Pool


Sunset in Morong


We arrived late that day so we didn't dipped too much in the water. We stayed by the beach to watch a beautiful scenery of the sunset.


We woke up early next morning to have a dip in the pool and explore the area before we went swimming.


There were only a few people in the beach by that time and most of them were still sleeping. A perfect time to get intimate with the water!


We also explored the shoreline and nearby areas. There were private houses, and those that are for rent as well as beautiful scenery of water and greens.
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