Bienvenidos, Ciudad de Zamboanga!

Every backpacker’s dream is to set foot in the most feared but amazing provinces of the Philippines – Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi or most commonly called ZamBaSulTa. Our 6-day backpacking to the said provinces was originally planned last June 2017 but due to Marawi Seige, we hold off the trip.

Day 1 of 6:

Bienvenidos, Ciudad de Zamboanga! Did you know that the native language of most people in Zamboanga is Chavacano? It is the only Spanish-based creole in Asia and that made Zamboanga as “Asia’s Latin City” Ola! Ang sosyal dba? 😀 On our first day, we did a halfday tour in Isabela, Basilan then back to Zamboanga in the afternoon.

 

Image01Bienvenidos from Doraemon 😀 at Zamboanga Airport

We stayed at Winzelle Suites, nasa gitna lang sya ng city kaya pwedeng lakarin yung mga pasyalan. Visited Zamboanga City Hall, Fort Pilar Shrine, Fort Pilar Museum and Paseo del Mar.

Image03Zamboanga Plaza and City Hall

Image04Sino mag-aakala na City Hall nila ito? 😀

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2448.Fort Pilar Shrine

 

image05.jpgDoves at Fort Pilar Shrine. Lakas maka-Italy! 🙂 Ingat lang sa mga pupu nila,  they poop on me twice! Hahaha! 😀

Image01Chill at Paseo del Mar

Image02Knickerbocker is a MUST try when you visit Zamboanga. It’s their own version of halo-halo but instead of typical ingredients ng isang halo-halo, puro fruits yung laman ng Knickerbocker! Watermelon, Pineapple, Mango and Banana topped with Strawberry ice cream! So yummy! (nag-crave tuloy ako ngayon) 

Masarap tumambay sa Paseo del Mar, tamang chill at kwentuhan with your friends and family. Madami din makakainan dito at presko! Tabing dagat lang kasi ito. As of this writing, security in Paseo del Mar is very tight specially at night. Upon entering the gate, you’ll need to present your ID. I’m not sure if that’s their SOP or maybe because of Martial Law in Mindanao. After our chilling moment, we head to Alavar Restaurant for another must try food, the Curacha. It is a crab look-alike and can be found in the waters of Zamboanga.

Image03

Curacha with Alavar Sauce. Medyo pricey nga lang ito for us kasi dalawa lang kami. Hahah! Better if you’re traveling with a group so, you can split the bill.

 

√ COOL THINGS TO SHARE: 

■ Try the Knickerbocker at Patio Palmera’s in Paseo del Mar for only Php75.00

■ One order of medium size Curacha with Alavar Sauce is Php1,150. Quite expensive if you’re traveling solo.

■ Winzelle Suites is very accessible in Paseo del Mar, Fort Pilar Shrine, Fort Pilar Museum, Zamobanga seaport and Zamboanga City Hall. It will save you a lot on transportation expenses.  It is also walking distance to Gateway Shoppers Mall, where the van terminal going to Vitali is located.

■ READ: ZamBaSulTa : Travel Guide for complete itinerary and expenses.

 

Day 2 of 6: 

On our second day, we visited Merloquet Falls in Vitali, Zamboanga. We boarded a van at the terminal beside Gateway Shoppers Mall and told the driver to drop us sa lottohan sa Vitali. Hahah! Nag-iisa lang yata yung lottohan dun kaya hindi kayo mawawala.

The unpaved road going to the jump-off point of Merloquet Falls was not easy for the habal-habal drivers. Kaya nire-require nila na isa lang yung angkas per habal-habal. Upon reaching the jump-off point, we register at the visitor’s logbook, pay the entrance fee and start to descend. 325 steps lang, makikita mo na ang falls.

Image01Welcome to Merloquet Falls! 🙂

Image02
Image03
Buen bunito el lugar del Merloquet! Meaning “Maganda dito sa Merloquet” (The place is beautiful) Hahaha! I asked our guide to translate that in Chavacano. 😀

As usual, madali lang bumaba pero pag akyat pabalik, pahirapan nanaman! Hahaha! We got back to Vitali junction and waited for bus bound to Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Due to time constraint, we’ve missed to visit Buluan Island. Nag-tour nalang kami sa Zamboanga Sibugay Capitol, the most colorful capitol I’ve ever seen! Hahaha! May mga replicas din ng mga famous landmarks ng ibang bansa dito. Exhibit daw nila nung Christmas sabi nung aming guide.

Image02

Image01The unique and colorful capitol of Zamboanga Sibugay.

 

 

Replica of Eiffel Tower and other famous landmarks.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2310.Goodbye, Sibugay! 😀

 

√ COOL THINGS TO SHARE: 

■ Getting to Merloquet Falls from Zamboanga City: There’s a van terminal beside Gateway Shoppers Mall going to Vitali. Ride a van and tell the driver to drop you off at “Lottohan sa Vitali” or Vitali Junction. Travel time is 1.5hrs and fare is Php100. First trip is around 4:00-4:30am.

■ From Vitali Junction or lottohan, ride a habal-habal (single motorcycle) going to Merloquet Falls jump-off point. Travel time is 30mins. Roundtrip fare is 100.

■ Entrance fee to falls is Php5.00/head. There’s a comfort room near the registration area, you can wash up and change clothes for of Php5.00/head.

■ Getting to Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay from Zamboanga City: Go to Guiwan Bus Terminal, ride a bus with a Dipolog signage and alight at Ipil Terminal.

■ Getting to Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay from Vitali: Ride a bus with a Dipolog signage and alight at Ipil Terminal. Travel time is 1 hour and fare is Php124

■ Going back to Zamboanga City from Ipil Terminal: Ride bus with Zamboanga signage, travel time is 3 hours and fare is Php245/head

 

Day 3 of 6:

We cut our Zamboanga exploration on the 3rd day and flew to the southernmost part of the Philippines – Tawi-Tawi. 🙂

Day 4 of 6:

Now we’re back to Zamboanga! Bumalik kami sa Paseo del Mar dahil dito ang sakayan ng ferry papuntang  Great Sta. Cruz Island or Pink Beach. Kelangan nyo muna magpa-reserve ng boat prior to your visit because as far as I remember, they only accommodate maximum of 400 guests a day. Specially on weekends, nafu-fullybook sila.

Why “Pink Beach”? Kasi madaming mga crushed red corals sa sand ng beach. Pagdating namin, yun agad ang hinanap ko! Hahah! Ang ganda ng beach, mga bes! Turquoise water plus combination of pink-white sand. Yun nga lang, sa sobrang tirik ng araw, hindi na kami nakapag-swimming. Hahah! Dito na kami nag lunch, kasi may mga fresh seafoods na binibenta at pwede mo na din ipaluto sakanila.

Image01The famous “I ❤ Zamboanga” signage. 

Image02Red-organ Pipe Corals. 

Image03Mixed of fine white sand and crushed red corals in the crystal clear waters of Sta. Cruz Island.

Image04

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2439.

 

√ COOL THINGS TO SHARE: 

■ Getting to Great Sta. Cruz Island: First things first! You need to reserve a slot in advance as they only accept maximum of 400 guests per day. On the day of your visit, head to Paseo del Mar and ride a boat going to Pink Beach. Travel time is 15-20 minutes. For reservations and inquiries, kindly call their office at 0977-7083194.

■ Roundtrip boat rental is Php1,000 for 10pax. You may join with other groups to save on the boat fare but if you’re going to visit on a weekdays, be at the port as early as 7:00am to increase your chances of joining other groups. Entrance fee is Php20.00 and Terminal fee is Php5.00

■ You may visit Pink Beach from 7:00am-2:00pm only. Overnight is not allowed. READ: ZamBaSulTa : Travel Guide for complete itinerary and expenses.

Day 5 of 6: 

On the 5th day of our adventure, we explore the misconceived province of Sulu.

Day 6 of 6:

Back to reality but, before heading to the airport, your Zamboanga trip would not be complete without trying their famous Satti. Inihaw na maliliit na chicken or beef meat with sweet-spicy sauce and syempre may kasamang rice na nakabalot sa dahon ng saging also known as ‘puso’.

Image00001The famous Satti at Jimmy’s Satti House

Image00002Satti – grilled chicken meat and rice with a sweet-spicy sauce.

 

Our ZamBaSulTa trip is one for the books. We felt no terror when we visited the said provinces, contrary to what others say. Thanks to our Christian and Muslim guides/new friends that we met in every province, who taught us their culture and traditions and for giving us a glimpse to the serene beaches and other unexploited tourist spots. Yet, there’s still so much more to discover. Hoping that their tourism will continue to grow further. 🙂

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