A Day in Zamboanga

I haven’t seen much of Zamboanga during my recent visit.  This is due to too much pressed for time. I was sent there short notice by our company as a speaker to launch our new product category. The trip is purely and officially business and Its just a one day affair.

I was excited at first, learning that I was chosen to do this however, as the day comes closer, I was thinking that I should have declined the offer instead. I needed that weekend to relax and unwind. It wasn’t an easy week for me. Peak season is coming so that means more work for us in the office.

So anyways, I went on and took that trip to Zamboanga. I was seated in the middle of a 3-seater row so I didn’t get to see much of how the province looks like from a Bird’s Eye View. But as I got off the plane, I was welcomed by the airport building’s unique facade. That’s when I truly believe I am stepping on the soils of Zamboanga and of Mindanao.

I was picked up by our branch operator and brought to the office straight. I was not able to enjoy the view of the surroundings or rather, I didn’t really get to see a good one along the way. The city is urbanized, reminding me of Kalibo, Aklan. I don’t remember passing through a body of water so I was literally enclosed in the urban streets of the Zamboanguenos.

The heart of the city reminds me of Divisoria, minus the sidewalk vendors and the huge amount of people. Stores are everywhere, I haven’t seen a residential home and the road is too small making it easy for people to travel on foot. It seems like everything in the city is within reach. Shopping malls are all over. It was indeed a highly-urbanized area.

What surprised me is how the whole picture of Zamboanga negates my long-time conotation about it. All this time, I dwell on the thought that Zamboanga is filled with the traditional muslim people with scarves covering their faces. Prior to the trip, I even thought of bringing a scarf so I can chameleon in case I would be in trouble being the “outsider”. But well, I found out that I didn’t have to do that in Zamboanga City. Most people doesn’t wear pashmina or the scarves muslim people wear to cover their faces. Most are dressed in the usual shirts and jeans like what we see here in Manila. It’s nothing scary as I imagined.

What I was really amazed about being in Zamboanga is their dialect. They speak Chavacano and it’s a revolution of Spanish. I can clearly identify most spanish words from my Spanish class in college. People there speak the Language Fluently and I even thought to myself that putting up a call center solely for Spanish Speaking agents is a great idea here. It would be much easier to teach them Spanish. The language is not really 100% grammatically correct spanish. They have minor differences in terms of conjugation of words like, they don’t say “hablas, habla, hablamos, hablais, hablo”, which is common in spanish to identify the personal pronoun. Zamboanguenos only say hablar, the root word of ‘to speak’ for all other purposes.

The people I met in Zamboanga were nothing but pure beauty and goodness. I was treated there with true Filipino hospitality – warm, friendly and welcoming.

I was not able to go around the city. Like I said, I was pressed for time. I didn’t get to see the museums and tourist spots the city has to offer. I didn’t even get to check out the trades in their infamous barter market. I left the office at exactly an hour and a quarter prior to my flight back to Manila and I’m even satisfied that I was able to accomplish all the things I needed to do there. If only I was given more time.

Moreover, despite my trip to Zamboanga lacked so much to fill my memory bank with beautiful places, sights and views, my heart was filled with so much joy and warmth from the people I interacted with when I was there. Other than the beautiful sights and surroundings the Philippines have in store for its travelers and tourist, the people is another thing we can be proud of. I am very much appreciative of the wonderful people I encounter in each trip I make and that’s what keeps me coming back over and over. A beautiful experience is not only about how much beauty your eyes’ been filled, it is really measured by how great your experience was being there and that’s what’s truly matters.

With that said, I can say that my trip to Zamboanga is nothing but a wonderful experience to cherish forever. How I wish I could be back there again and be given the opportunity to see more.

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