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Zamboanga Del Sur

Capital: Pagadian

Land area: 8,051.9 sq. km.

No. of towns: 39

Location. Bounded on the north by Zamboanga del Norte, on the east by Maguindanao, Sulu Sea on the west and Basilan Sea the south.

Topography. Topographically, Zamboanga del Sur´s landscape is a combination of highlands and lowlands marked by a rough coastline of many indentations with numerous coves and harbors usually 3 to 17 fathoms deep.

Brief history. Historically known as Sibuguey, Zamboanga del Sur was part of the empire of the fabled Kudarat, Muslim sultan of Maguindanao. At the height of the Spanish colonization campaign in Mindanao during the 16th century, it was known to be the "storehouse of Kudarat" where war spoils and treasures were kept.

After the defeat of the brave warrior Tagal, the sultan´s brother, in the famous battle at Punta de Fletcha in the Dumanquillas Bay on December 12, 1637, the Christian culture started to take root in the peninsula.

From the marriage of these two cultures, symbolized by the Crescent and the Cross, emerged distinctive imprints that largely summarize Zamboanga´s character.

The evolution of the name "Zamboanga" provides an interesting insight into its historical background. The early Malay settlers called the region "Jambangan", which means "Land of flowers". These Malays who built their settlements by the river banks were the Subanons, that is "People of the River". Their chief, Saragan, lived with his family a top the legendary Mount Pulumbato that today lords over Pasonanca and Climaco Freedom Parks. Then later on, the Samals and the Badjaos who came all the way in frail huts along the shorelines and confused "Jambangan" with "Samboangan". "Samboangan" comes from the word "sabuan", the wooden pole which they used to help push their vintas in shallow waters or to tie them with for anchorage purposes.

Zamboanga has a rich and colorful history. It was the center of barter trading among the Chinese, Malays and the native Tausugs, Samals, Subanons, and the Badjaos as early as the 13th and 14th centuries.

It was in 1953 when the Spaniards made their presence felt with a small Catholic mission established briefly at La Caldera, now known as Recodo.

Much later on June 23, 1635, the cornerstone of what is now known as Fort Pilar was laid by Father Melchor de Vera, a Jesuit priest, and the Spanish authorities. This date marked the change of the name from "Samboangan" to its present name "Zamboanga".

Except for briefly interrupted periods, the Spaniards occupied Zamboanga for almost three centuries, with Fort Pilar as the center of settlement.

The influx of Spanish colonizers and other ethnic groups from the Luzon and the Visayas also attracted various people from neighboring islands of Basilan and the Sulu Archipelago.

In addition, many people from the outlying areas and islands sought protection from pirate raids and unstable peace and order conditions and immigrated into the "villa" (as the settlement was formerly called "Leal y Valiente Villa" by the Spanish Crown in 1872).

Christianity in Mindanao may correctly be said to have been introduced and prospered in Zamboanga City. The then Archdiocese of Zamboanga included Mindanao, except Sulu where the proud Tausugs´ own culture and religion proved to be as dynamic as the Spaniards´.

A year after the Treaty of Paris in 1898, when the Philippines was ceded to the United Stated, the Americans occupied Zamboanga City. It was in the American period that the settlement was formally organized into a municipality in 1901 under Public Act. 135 by the Union of Zamboanga and Tetuan districts.

From 1903 to 1913, Zamboanga was the capital of the Moro Province which encompassed the whole Mindanao, with five districts, namely: Cotabato, Davao, Sulu, Lanao and Zamboanga. This period saw the construction of our present City Hall. It was then the Provincial Capitol Building which housed the office of the Military Governor, John S. "Black Jack" Persing.

Today Zamboanga del sur has 42 municipalities.

Language / Dialect. A common unique language, the "Chabacano" - a mixture of Spanish and the ethnic dialects, flourished in the region.

In Pagadian City, however, settlers are mixtures of Visayan and migrants from Luzon and the neighboring provinces of Mindanao, in addition to the natives of the place, several dialects are used as media of expression and communication. The foreign language that is commonly used and spoken is English, and Cebuano is the principal dialect of the City.

People. About 35.8% of the region´s population is composed of cultural minority members. These cultural minority groups, although classified under the general heading of Muslims, are distinct from one another in culture.

They are generally divided into the Tausugs, Yakans, Badjaos, Samals, and the Sabanons of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.

The diversity in culture of these tribes needs more intensive and extensive cultural exchanges to further promote understanding, unity and harmony.

Subanons. The Subanons are considered the aborigines of Zamboanga. They settled here long before the Spaniards occupied the city. The term "Subanon", derived from "Suba" (river), means People of the River. The Subanons form a single, distinctive cultural and linguistic group. They are mostly farmers who grow upland rice, roots and tree crops. Being a linguistic group, the Subanon language consists of closely ralated sub-groups: the Eastern and Western Subanon.

The Subanon settlements today are thinly spread over the southern portion of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, stretching northward, then eastward to the hinterlands of the neighboring province of Misamis Occidental (which is part of Region 10).

Badjaos. Often referred to as the Philippine "sea gypsies", the Badjaos, until recently, spend their lives on their small boats which frequent the waters around the numerous islands of the Sulu Archipelago. Today, about 2/3 of the Tawi-Tawi Badjaos still use boats as permanent living quarters and some of their villages consist of flotillas with no houses.

The Badjaos consist of 2 major groups: the Southern Badjao (Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Sibutu, Semporna, who call themselves a single "bangsa" or ethnic group); and the Northern Badjao (the Siasi, Jolo, Basilan and Zamboaga groups).

Though they are water people, they go on land and stay on land when they die or are buried. They make frequent trips to the cemetery to ask favors from the spirits of their deceased ancestors and relatives.

Samals. The Samals are a general grouping of tribes which generally inhabit the shorelines of Northern and Southern Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and the Zamboanga Peninsula and nearby islands.

They are peace-loving people whose means of livelihood is fishing. Their staple food is the cassava or "puto" as it is locally called. They also eat fruits and vegetables, showing a partiality to magoes. Their musical instrument consists of the "gabbang" or nose flute.

Inhabiting Zamboanga City are seven groups of Samals, namely: the Sama Banguingui, Sama Laminusa, Sama Ubian, Sama Siasi, Sama Daungung, Sama Kaunlungan and Sama Bitali.

Tausugs. The Tausugs, considered the most politically dominant group in the Sulu Archipelago, inhabit the island of Jolo, and are dispersed into several communities in the smaller islands of Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Southern Palawan.

They have a rich culture which is a mixture of different cultures and foreign influence that date back to as early as the 13th century when Sulu was trading with China, India, East Indies, Arabia and Japan. They formed the Sultanate of Sulu in the 15th century, and Jolo, which has been the seat of power, is predominantly Tausug.

Fishing is one occupation many Tausugs are engaged in. As farmers, they engage in planting upland rice intercropped with cassava, coconut, abaca and coffee.

Yakans. Lamitan, the biggest district in Basilan Province, is the home base of the Yakans. They are a peaceful-loving people who were originally pagans until the spread of Islam in the islands.

Yakan men and women are distinguished from other ethnic tribes by the skin-tight trousers they wear and the bulky waist sashes which serve as protection from bladed weapons or as hammocks in the hills at night.

Nowadays, the Yakans are engaged in both dry and wet agriculture. They grow upland rice, corn, coconuts and root crops. Hunting continues but is carried on mainly as an amusement.

They boast of their intricately designed handwoven cloth which no other ethnic tribe in the Philippines can imitate. The loom that they are using, being the type normally used in Indonesia, has one end fastened to the wall and the other, ending in a cord, is wound around the waist of the weaver.

Climate. Since Zamboanga del Sur is situated within the tropics of the Northern Hemisphere, its climate is characterized by pronounced dry season from January to March, and rainy season from April to December.

Major Industries. In the mountains of Zamboanga del Sur are deposits of gold and coal waiting to be tapped. The forests are sources of rubber, varnish and timber highly prized in shipbuilding and furniture-making. On the hillsides and plateaus graze herds of cattle, horses, carabaos and sheep.

Along the river deltas, where the major towns lie, corn, rice, abaca and coconut grow luxuriantly. While the engulfing sea is an enexhaustible hunting ground for aquatic resources such as fish, corals seaweeds and pearls as well as hidden treasures trapped in sunken galleons nestling in its bosom.

Pagadian City is basically an agricultural city. A large percentage of the total land area has been devoted to agricultural activities - rice planting in the lowlands and corn planting in the city´s rolling terrain. Other crops raised are coconuts, bananas, coffee, cassava, mangoes and other root crops.

Points of Interest


City Hall (within the 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 American governors, which included Leonard O. Wood, Tasker H. Bliss, Ralph W. Hyot and John Persing of World War I fame. Today, this serves as the City Hall of Zamboanga where the City Mayor holds office.

Fort Pilar (a 15 minute walk from Lantaka Hotel, N.S. Valderrosa Street). Built in 1635 by a Jesuit priest toward off attacks from the Moros and foreign invaders. Originally named the "Real Fuerza de San Jose", it was renamed after it was rebuilt in 1791 to "Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza", whose statue embossed at the east wall of the fort in 1734 as frontispiece atop the entrance. This was eventually sealed off when it became a shrine. After its capture by the Americans on November 16, 1899, the Fort came to be known simply as Fort Pilar.

Pettit Barracks (One-minute walk from Lantaka Hotel, N.S. Valderrosa Street). Occupied by US Forces under Gen. C. Bates after their capture of the city on November 16, 1899, the site was named Pettit Barracks in honor of Colonel James S. Pettit, 31st Infantry, US Volunteer Commanding Officer of the Second Military District, who was later promoted to the rank of General and became the Inspector General and In-Charge of Civil Affairs of Zamboanga, Inspector Generals Department, US Infantry. Occupied by the Japanese Forces in 1942-1945, it was recaptured by the US Force of Liberation on March 10, 1945, and turned over to the Republic of the Philippines on July 4,1946.

Plaza Pershing (two-minute walk from City Hall). A quaint remnant of typical Spanish square famous in the old ayuntamiento of the 17th century in the Philippines. Originally called the "Plaza de Don Juan de Salcedo" in honor of one of Spain´s great conquistadores of the 16th century. It was renamed Plaza Pershing in 1915 in memory of Gen. John Pershing for work well done before and during his governorship of the Moro Province and his pacification of the recalcitrant Moros of Sulu and Lanao.

San Ramon Penal Farm. (22 kms. west of the city). A 19th century Spanish-built prison and penal farm. Located 22 kms. along the west coast of the city, accessible via jeepneys or mini-buses from the market area downtown. The penal farm was established by the Spaniards as an experimental agricultural extention. Outside of the prison camp is a souvenir shop where one can buy the finest woodcraft in the area skillfully produced by the inmates.

Yellow Beach (approximately 8 kms. on the west coast, accessible by jeepneys and mini-buses from the public market). The landing site of the US Forces to liberate the city of Zamboanga from the Japanese on March 10-12, 1945. In their all-out operations to liberate the city, the US Liberation Forces under Maj. Gen. Jens A. Doe landed on this beach. The Americans name this landing site "Yellow Beach" for purposes of identification during the operations. The liberation of the city was successfully carried out in less than 72 hours, because of the wonderful collaboration of the American Forces and the Pilipino guerillas. The beach is situated in Sununuc, which is about 8 kms. west of the city.


Great Sta. Cruz Island. Known for its pinkish sand beach because of the washed out corals from the bottom of the sea. On the island is a lagoon, a fishing villages and an old Muslim burial ground. There is an extensive and varied underwater life of coral heads and rocks which supports a great variety of tropical fish. The place is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, skin/scuba diving, beach combing, and sunbathing. The facilities available in the island are dressing rooms, toilets, picnic sheds and cooking areas only. Being a coral island, drinking water is not readily available. As such, swimmer are advised to bring along with them some drinking water and food. Swimmers are also advised to wear canvass or plastic slippers/shoes to protect their feet from small rocks and corals. Sta. Cruz Island can be reached in 15 minutes by a motor boat from Lantaka Hotel. It is only about 4 kms. from the mainland.

Arcillas Beach (7 kms. from the city proper). A stony, grey sand beach with numerous coconut and fruit trees near the shoreline. A good picnic ground with eating sheds and potable water.

Caragasan Beach (12 kms. from the city proper). Grey sand beach, ideal for swimming. Sunset can be viewed from this area, adding to it a very considerable charm and character.

Malandi Beach (30 kms. from the city proper, private beach area). Grey sand beach, ideal for swimming, fishing and skin diving.

Zamboanga Beach Park (6 kms. from the city proper). Situated by a beautiful golf course, along scenic Basilan Strait, beautiful sunset view. Facilities include picnic sheds, shower rooms, cateries, picnic grills, children´s playground and boat paddling for rent, wash basins, and a mini-golf course.

Bolong Beach (32.96 kms. away from the city on the east coast). Highlight in going to Bolong is a fish market which comes alive every Sunday, the villages market day, and one can get a clear view of the neighboring islands such as Sacol. One passes through roads blooming with colorful bougainvilleas, "bandera de español" different species of orchids and shady coconut trees.


Campo Muslim / Rio Hondo / Sahaya (Houses on stilts). A colony of coastal Tausugs, Samals and Badjaos live in frail-looking houses-on-stilts situated in the town proper about 200 meters away from Fort Pilar. Campo Muslim can easily be located by its silvery-domed mosque. In order to reach the other area known as Rio Hondo, one has to cross the wooden bridge that spans the narrow river that has given this part of the village its present name, Rio Hondo, meaning " deep river". Inside Rio Hondo is a Human Settlements Project of the government called "Sahaya". It is situated on a 23-hectare mangrove.

Pasonanca Park (7 kms. away from the city, accessible by jeepney from the public market). Situated on an elevated area some 500 feet above sea level, and lorded over by verdant mountain and rolling hills. The park has 3 swimming pools; one a notorium for professionals, another for children with concrete slides called Wee-wee pool, and the third lookes like a natural swimming hole; bordered by ferns and other greeneries with cool and crystal clear water flowing into and out of it 24 hours a day coming directly from the tall mountains a mile away. The park is also a popular site for citizenship training and for holding seminars, conferences, convention or jamborees. The park also has a boy scout camp site and an amphitheater. The most popular attraction of the park is the Tree House which was built in 1960. Any visitor, foreign or domestic who comes from a brief sojourn in the city, may ask for reservation of the Tree House through the City Mayor´s Office. The stay is for free but it is only good for a night to two to give everybody a chance to stay and experience the thrill of living atop a tree in most civilized manner. The tree house is equipped with facilities of modern living. Most ideal for honeymooners.

Climaco Freedom Park (formerly Abong-Abong). The park is a project developed by the City Government and spearheaded by the late Mayor Cesar C. Climaco. It is just a hiking distance away from Pasonanca, accessible by a 10-minute ride on a jeepney or any transport. Some of its attractions are a campsite for Boy and Girl Scouts, a natural swimming hole called "Chrislam Pool", Heroes Hill in honor of the World War II soldiers, Freedom´s Eternal Shrine in honor of the late Senator Benigno Aquino, and the Ecumenical Holy Hill where the 14 Stations of the Cross can be found leading up to a giant white cross at the top of the hill which overlooks Basolan Strait and the city. This is also the place where the remains of the late Mayor Climaco was buried.

Yakan Weaving Village (7 kms. on the west coast, accessible by jeepneys and mini-buses bound for Sinunuc / Ayala from the Public Market). The Yakans, the original inhabitants of Basolan Province are considered one of the finest weavers in the Philippines. The Yakan weave is so fine that it takes a week or so to finish a meter of the cloth. The Yakan cloth commands a high price in well-known trade centers in the Philippines because its intricate design and craftmanship.

Zamboanga Golf & Sports Complex (approximately 6 kms. on the west coast, accessible by jeepneys and mini-buses from the market place). Originally know as the Zamboanga Golf & Country Club when it was founded in June 1910 by Gen. John Pershing, the then governor of the Moro Province. This is one of the oldest golf courses in the Philippines with Gen. Pershing as the club´s first president. The course has fine layout with winding fairways, dogleg situations and good green, planted to tifton 328. Its bunkers have the unique pink sand from Sta. Cruz Island. Although Zamboanga´s first 9 is somewhat flat in terrain, its second is fairly rolling which skirts around Basilan Strait for a bit of ocean view. An interesting round is always in store for the average golfer or the proficient campaigner, as flexibility is assured with long tee mounds. This course has elevated greens which can be tricky for their size and rolling make-up. The course has 18 holes in 64 hectares.

Public Market. Situated along J.S. Alano Street in the heart of the city. A place where one can bargain for Muslim brasswares, pottery, ceramics, mats, ready-made ethnic apparel and other native products. On the seafront, one can see a variety of fisth and vegetables at the Fish and Dry Section. Near the fish market and the wharf is the Fruit Paradise, where you can take your fill of fresh fruits like lanzones, mangosteen, durian, marang, juani, mangoes, bananas, rambutan, and many more.

Zamboanga Barter Trade Markets. There are 4 Barter Trade distribution outlets - one at Sta. Cruz Market, another at Public Market, Canelar and the other at Alta mall on Gov. Alvares Avenue Extention, easily reached by a tricycle. These are places where you can buy goods from Malaysia, China, and Singapore. Products on sale are clothing materials, canned, kitchen ware, umbrellas, toys, and electronic items.

Taluksangay Village (Situated some 19 kms. east coast of the city, accessible by jeepneys and mini-buses from the public market). A Samal Village where the picturesque mosque is made majestic by its reddish minarets towering over a lagoon and brushland of luxuriant green. The villagers are engaged in fishing and firewood gathering from the vast swamplands nearby. A most interesting site is its "floating village" made up of little houses-on-stilts above the water.

Astanah Kasannangan (Palace of Peace). situated at Cabatangan some 5 kms. from the city, accessible by private vehicles. Perched on a hill in a sprawling 15,000 square meter lot at the Regional Government Center in Cabatangan and overlooking the City of Zamboanga is the mosque-like edifice of the executive office of the Region IX Autonomous Government, otherwise known as Astanah Kasannangan. Inside the palace are tastefully arranged interior designs consisting of antiques brasswares and framed ethnic cloth such as the Yakan and the Tausug cloth. At the middle of the lobby is a carpeted winding stairway leading to the rooftop where the big dome silently speaks in mutual the history of Region IX done by a local artist, Saudi Ahmad. From the rooftop, one can get a breathtaking view of the twin Sta. Cruz islands and Basilan Strait. The concrete statue of the Sumayang Galura which stands at the foot of the access road to the Astanah Kasannangan is a legendary half-bird half-man symbol of Autonomy in Region IX whose origin is deeply rooted in the early days of the Islam in the country.

Pagadian City


Dao-Dao Island. Popularly known as Pajares Island, ideal for swimming and sunbathing. It is about 10 minutes by pumpboat across Pagadian City wharf.

White Beach. A promontory of white sand beach just about 5 minutes by pumpboat ride southeast of the seaport. Its clear deep water even at low tide has been considered ideal for swimming and diving.

Pulacan Falls. Found in the town of Labangan, 12 kms. from Pagadian City, covering and area of 400 square meters. It serves as the source of irrigation system of the municipality of Labangan. 2 kms. from the area is the 134 hectares Home Defense Center. This can easily be reached by any motor vehicle. The opening of the PADAP road has made Pulacan Falls a beautiful picnic and camping site. It has now a permanent BSP and GSP camping site with facilities. Regional and provincial jamborees have been held in this campsite.

Mt. Palpalan. The spot within the city of Pagadian where transmitters of major communication system are situated. The area is about 30 minutes of steep climb from the municipal boundary of Dumalinao and along the Pagadian City-Zamboanga City National Highway. From the height of 684 feet above sea level, Mt. Palpalan offers a refreshing bird´s eye view of the urban area, neighboring municipalities, and the deep blue waters of Pagadian Bay.

Muricay Beach. A promontory of White Sand Beach just about 10 minutes pumpboat ride from the seaport. It is also accessible by land transportation. Its water is ideal for swimming.

Lison Valley Falls. It is located at Barangay Lison Valley. The place is 40 kms. away from the city. The scenic falls has 60 feet elevation from the ground with approximately 1,500 square meter catchment area.


Dia de Zamboanga (February 26). Zamboanga celebrates the day when the city was inaugurated as a charter city with a parade and cultural shows.

Isra Wal Miraj (May 9). An Islamic event celebrating the nocturnal journey of prophet Mohammad

Id Ul Fitr / Hariraya Puasa (July 11, movable). An event to commemorate the end of the fasting season of the Muslim brothers.

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival (October 12). The festival is highlighted by cultural shows, fairs, art and photo exhibits, an ethnic parade, a bando real, a Miss Zamboaga Pageant, a reggata, sportsfest, fireworks, musicfest, a garden show and 9-night procession that honors the patron saint Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

A string of frenzied activities mark the celebration of this feast, and the exotic air of Zamboanga is sure to cast a spell on the visitor.

Maulidin-Nabi (December 27). An Islamic celebration honoring the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Special Interest Tours

Pagadian Escapade

Basilan Seabreeze Tour

Jolo Adventure

Fishing. Angler´s Delight Tour

Scuba Diversions

Bolong Beach Escapade

Rustic Tulungatung. A Christian village in Brgy. Tulungtung situated in the West coast depicting life and scenario in a typical barrio.

Labuan Fishermen´s Enclave

Dipolog Hideaway Tour

Sea Escapade to Dakak. Western Mindanao´s unique hideway resort.

Dapitan Nostalgia. Retrace Jose Rizal´s idyllic exile to Dapitan.

Tawi-Tawi Safari. Scale the heights of Bongao Peak, feed man´s Simian friends and enjoy a breathtaking view of nearby Malaysia and some of Tawi-Tawi´s 307 islands.

How to get there. Philippine Airlines flies to Zamboanga daily. By sea, ships that leave for Zamboanga depart Manila twice weekly, with the triip taking 23 hours.