Zamboanga City

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Zamboanga City
Highly Urbanized City
Zamboanga City Hall
Zamboanga City Hall
Official seal of Zamboanga City
Nickname(s): Ciudad Latina de Asia; Ciudad de las Flores; Sardinas Capital del Filipinas
Motto: ¡Adelante Zamboanga!
Map with Zamboanga City highlighted
Map with Zamboanga City highlighted
Zamboanga City is located in Philippines
Zamboanga City
Zamboanga City
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 06°55′N 122°05′E / 6.917°N 122.083°E / 6.917; 122.083Coordinates: 06°55′N 122°05′E / 6.917°N 122.083°E / 6.917; 122.083
Country Philippines
Region Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX)
Province Zamboanga del Sur (statistically only)
Established June 23, 1635
Incorporated (city) October 12, 1936
Established (city) February 26, 1937
Official language(s) Zamboangueño Chavacano
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar (Liberal Party)
 • Vice Mayor César Iturralde (LDP)
 • Representatives
 • City Council
 • Land 1,414.70 km2 (546.22 sq mi)
Elevation 16.0 m (52.5 ft)
Population (1 May 2010)[2]
 • Total 807,129
 • Rank Sixth
 • Density 570.5/km2 (1,478/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Zamboangueño (m)
Zamboangueña (f)
Time zone PST (UTC+8)
ZIP code 7000
Dialing code 62
Income class 1st class

Zamboanga City (Zamboangueño Chavacano: Ciudad de Zamboanga) is a highly urbanized city located in Mindanao, Philippines. It has a population of 807,129 people as of the 1 May 2010 census.[2] Zamboanga is the 6th most populous and 3rd largest city by land area in the Philippines.[3][4] It is the commercial and industrial center of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region.[5]

For historical and statistical purposes, Zamboanga City is grouped with the Province of Zamboanga del Sur,[1] of which it formerly was the capital.

Zamboanga used to be known as Jambangan in the Subanen language and was the center of the Subanen culture during the pre-Hispanic times. After independence from Spain in May 1899, Zamboanga became the Republic of Zamboanga with Zamboangueño Chavacano as its official language and Spanish as its co-official language. After American intervention, the republic incorporated into the Philippines and became the capital of the former Moro Province, now Mindanao, from 1903 to 1913. On October 12, 1936, Zamboanga became a chartered city under Commonwealth Act No. 39.[6][7] It was formally inaugurated on February 26, 1937, which was declared a local holiday. Known for Hispanic influences in its culture, it bears the nickname "Asia's Latin City."[8]


Zamboanga was founded in the late 12th or early 13th century, with the earliest people living there being the Subanen, an indigenous tribe of the island Mindanao. The Subanen people's name for Zamboanga, "Sung Lupa", means "pointed land". Speculation that the name of Zamboanga comes from the word "Jambangan Bunga", meaning "bouquet/vase of flowers", or the "garden/land of flowers", is met by others insisting the name derives from the word "saguan" or "sambuan", a Malay word for the paddle used by natives to paddle the vintas in the sea. Another possible origin is "sambon" which refers to herbal plants that grew abundantly in the city.[9] Badjao, Samal, Tausug and the Yakan tribes from Malayan descent settled in the same part of Mindanao in the early 14th century.[10] Islam gained predominance in the early 14th century in the Philippines.[11]

Spanish rule[edit]

José Rizal Monument

Spanish explorers arrived in the Philippine archipelago in 1521.[12] In 1569 Zamboanga was chosen as the site of the Spanish settlement and garrison on La Caldera (now called Barrio Recodo).[13] Zamboanga was one of the main strongholds in Mindanao, supporting colonizing efforts in the south of the island and making way for Christian settlements. It also served as a military outpost, protecting the island against foreign invaders and Moro pirates. In 1599, the Zamboanga fort was closed and transferred to Cebú due to great concerns about attack by the English on that island, which did not occur. After having abandoned the city, the Spaniards as well as some Latin-American mercenaries from Peru and Mexico, joined forces with troops from Pampanga and Visayan soldiers (From Bohol, Cebu and Iloilo) and reached the shore of Zamboanga to bring peace to the island against Moro pirates.[14]

Aerial View Fort Pilar

Zamboanga became the main headquarters of the Spaniards in June 23, 1635 upon approval of King Philip IV of Spain, and the Spanish officially founded the city.[14] Thousands of Spanish troops headed by a governor general from Spain took the approval to build the first Zamboanga fortress (now called Fort Pilar) in Zamboanga to forestall enemies in Mindanao like Moro pirates and other foreign invaders.[15] The Zamboanga fortress became the main focus of a number of battles between Moros and Spaniards while the Spanish ruled the region from 16th to 18th centuries. Spain was forced to abandon Zamboanga temporarily and withdraw its soldiers to Manila in 1662 after the Chinese under Koxinga threatened to invade the Spanish Philippines. While the region was already dominated by Catholicism, Muslims kept up a protracted struggle against the ruling Spaniards in the country into the 18th century.[16][17] In January 1798 a British naval squadron conducted a Raid on Zamboanga but was driven off by the city's defensive fortifications.

In 1831, the custom house in Zamboanga was established as a port, and it became the main port for direct communication, trading some goods and other services to most of Europe, Southeast Asia and Latin America.[18] The Americans arrived in the Philippines, headed by General Weyler with thousands of troops to defeat the Spaniards who ruled it more than three centuries. The Spanish government sent more than 80,000 Spanish troops to the Philippines. The Spanish government completely and peacefully surrendered the islands to the United States in the 1890s.[19]

Republic of Zamboanga[edit]

Before the end of the 19th century, the Republic of Zamboanga was established during the American period in the Philippines from May 18, 1899 until March 1903. The first president of the Republic of Zamboanga was General Vicente Álvarez, who was succeeded by Isidoro Midel and Mariano Arquiza.[20]

Early twentieth century[edit]

Inauguration of the Municipality of Zamboanga which included Basilan, July 1, 1901, with Datu Kalun (background) in attendance

Upon the firm establishment of American colonization and dissolution of the Republic in 1903, Zamboanga, as a municipality, was placed under the Moro Province, a semi-military government consisting of five districts: Zamboanga, Cotabato, Davao, Lanao and Sulu. During this period, Zamboanga hosted a number of American regional governors, including General John J. Pershing, who was military commander/governor of the Moro Province from 1909 to 1914.

In 1920, Zamboanga ceased to be Mindanao's capital city when the department was divided into provinces in which the city became under the large province of Zamboanga. It encompasses the present-day Zamboanga Peninsula with the inclusion of the whole province of Basilan.

Soon after the establishment of the commonwealth, it established itself the center of commerce, trade, and government of Mindanao Island as the capital of the Moro Province.[21]

The 1936 City Charter and the commonwealth[edit]

President Manuel Quezon (center) signing the City Charter of Zamboanga in a ceremony held in the Malacañang Palace in October 12, 1936.

When the Commonwealth government was established in 1935, calls to convert Zamboanga into a city increased. On September 23, 1936, through Assemblyman Juan Alano, the National Assembly of the Philippines passed Commonwealth Act No. 39 making Zamboanga a chartered city consisting of "the present territorial jurisdiction of the municipality of Zamboanga, the municipality of Bolong, the municipal district of Taluksangay, the whole island of Basilan and the adjacent islands, i.e., the municipality of Isabela, the municipal district of Lamitan, and the municipal district of Maluso."[6][7] It was later signed by President Manuel Quezon in October 12, 1936. The charter made Zamboanga City as the largest city in the world in terms of land area. During these times, Zamboanga was the leading commercial and industrial city of Mindanao.

Before World War II, Pettit Barracks, a part of the U.S. Army's 43d Infantry Regiment (PS), was stationed there.

World War II[edit]

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, they were headed by Vice Admiral Skugiyama Rokuzo, accompanied by Rear Admiral Naosaburo Irifune. The Japanese landed at Zamboanga on March 2, 1942.[22] The city government was reverted to a municipality with Carlos Camins as its mayor. They established a defense headquarters in the city and controlled the government for over two years.

The Japanese government in the city was overthrown by American and Filipino forces following a fierce battle that occurred on March 10–12, 1945.[20]

Post-World War II[edit]

After the war, new problems aroused especially for the citizens of the island of Basilan. The people there found it difficult to appear in courts, pay their taxes, seek help from the mayor and other officials. Going from Basilan to the mainland required three or more hours of travel. To fix the problem, Representative Juan Alano filed a bill in Congress to separate Basilan from Zamboanga. So the island of Basilan was proclaimed a separate city through Republic Act No. 288[23] on July 16, 1948.

In April 7, 1953 by virtue of Republic Act No. 840,[24][25]

In April 29, 1955, a special law changed the landscape of the city government when Republic Act No. 1210[26] amended the City Charter that made elective the position of city mayor and the creation of an elective vice-mayor and eight (8) elective city councilors. The vice-mayor is the presiding-officer of the City Council. In November 1955, Liberal Party candidate Cesar Climaco with his running-mate, Tomas Ferrer won the first local elections. They were inducted into office on January 1, 1956 as determined by the Revised Election Code.[27]

Martial law years[edit]

On September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the Philippines under martial law. The local government became under presidential control for the first time since 1955. Marcos extended Enriquez's term when the latter's tenure was about to end in 1975. During this time, Enriquez was able to garner funds to construct the Sta. Cruz Public Market and emergency hospitals in rural barangays such as Quiniput and Labuan.[citation needed]

In November 14, 1975, President Marcos reorganized the local government in which the city council was replaced by a Sangguniang Panglungsod with the mayor as its new presiding officer and members including the vice-mayor, the chairman of the Katipunan ng mga Kabataang Barangay, the president of the Association of Barangay Captains, and sectoral representatives of agriculture, business and labor.[28]

When Mayor Enriquez resigned and bid for the newly created Interim Batasang Pambansa in 1978, Vice-Mayor Jose Vicente Atilano II was appointed by President Marcos to replace him.

Climaco's return (1980–1984)[edit]

In 1980, Cesar Climaco staged his political comeback when he was elected again to the mayoral post under his new party, the Concerned Citizen's Aggrupation. He had gone into exile to the United States in protest against Marcos' declaration of Martial Law.

In 1984, Climaco was elected a member of the Regular Batasang Pambansa. Climaco however declined to assume his seat until he had completed his six-year term as mayor in his consistent protest against Marcos.

Post-Marcos era (1986–present)[edit]

Later in that year, to unite the Zamboangueños, President Aquino appointed former mayor Climaco's son, Julio Cesar Climaco to be officer-in-charge of the city. Varela returned to his post as city administrator.

During his short term, Climaco invited the rebel secessionist organization Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by its chairman Nurulaji Misuari to Zamboanga, a move which came after the controversial meeting between President Aquino and Misuari in Sulu. There was not much to accomplish during this time, in which the city government did not have the sufficient funds to undertake any major projects, and there were no funds coming from the national government, which at that time was more concerned with doing an accounting of money allegedly taken by the Marcos administration. He was, nevertheless, responsible for the concreting of the roads from Gov. Ramos to the Zamboanga International Airport, and the concreting of the road from Suterville to Baliwasan.

When the new constitution was approved by a plebiscite in February 2, 1987, local elections were held. Climaco resigned to run for the congressional seat and President Aquino appointed Councilor Vitaliano Agan to be acting officer-in-charge in which was the candidate for the mayorship. Agan won, but Climaco lost to Maria Clara Lobregat.

Agan administration (1988–1998)[edit]

Vitaliano Agan, born in Lanao del Norte, was the first non-Chavacano elected mayor of the city. During his stint in office, he prioritized the construction of high schools in the major barangays of the city. Construction of concrete major roads, street lighting and traffic lights were done during this time.[citation needed] Through these accomplishments, he was reelected in 1992 and in 1995. It was also in his time when the massive Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex started its construction.

The Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Stadium, constructed by Mayor Agan and finished during Mayor Lobregat's term.

In 1990, Zamboanga City was declared the commercial and industrial center of the Western Mindanao region (now Zamboanga Peninsula).[5]

21st century[edit]

On November 19, 2001, the Cabatangan Government Complex in Barangay Cabatangan, the seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was raided by former MNLF fighters in protest of Misuari's ouster as Governor of the autonomous region in which they took residents hostage. The complex also houses the different regional government offices such as the Commission on Audit, Population Commission, Civil Service Commission, Area Vocational Rehabilitation Center, DECS Training Center and the Zamboanga Arturo Eustaquio College Department of Criminology. An air strike by the military began on November 27 in which the hostages were later released after the government agreed to escort the rebels to a safe zone in Panubigan where they were allowed to go free.[29]

Mayor Erico Basilio Fabian decided to run for the congressional seat in the 2004 local elections in turn, incumbent Celso Lobregat ran for the mayorship in which he won pitting against businessman Lepeng Wee.

Lobregat pursued grand infrastructure projects including the rehabilitation of Plaza Pershing and Pasonanca Park in which he added Jardin Maria Clara in the memory of his mother, construction of Paseo Del Mar and the erection of uniformed Barangay halls around the city.[citation needed]

He was reelected twice in 2007 and 2010. In 2007, the city was divided into two legislative districts pursuant to Republic Act No. 9269.[30] The city therefore is entitled to two representatives to the national congress.

District I Representative Maria Isabelle Climaco Salazar, niece of former Mayor Cesar Climaco, was elected as the second woman mayor of the city during the 2013 local elections.

Zamboanga City crisis[edit]

On September 9, 2013, a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the leadership of Nur Misuari seized hostages in Zamboanga and attempted to raise the flag of the self-proclaimed Bangsamoro Republik, a state which declared its independence earlier in August, in Talipao, Sulu. This armed incursion has been met by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which seeks to free the hostages and expel the MNLF from the city. The standoff degenerated into urban warfare, and brought parts of the city under standstill for days.[31]

Mayor Climaco-Salazar and her administration are relocating the internal displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the crisis to transitory sites and later, permanent housings in various places around the city.[32] Her rehabilitation plan, "Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Rehabilitation (Z3R)", envisions building back a better Zamboanga City and rehabilitating the areas affected by the crisis.[33]


The map of Zamboanga City


The southwest and eastern sides of Zamboanga are bounded by irregular coastlines with generally rocky terrain and occasional stretches of sandy or gravelly beaches. The coastal profile usually descends abruptly towards the sea. Where rivers enter the sea, bays have formed, and the surrounding area has filled up with alluvial soils, producing small to large coastal plains.


The overall topography of the city could be described as rolling to very steep. There are some flat lands, mostly narrow strips along the east coast. The urban center is mostly flat with a gentle slope to the interior, ranging from 0 to 3%. The highest registered elevation is 1,200 metres. In terms of slope, a large portion of Zamboanga, about 38,000 hectares, have slopes ranging from 18 to 30%. Another 26,000 hectares have been described as having slopes pf less than 3% while about 37% of the area or a total of 52,000 hectares have slopes ranging from 30% to more than 50%.[34]


Zamboanga features a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification.

Climate data for Zamboanga, Philippines
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 27.2
Average low °C (°F) 22.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 32.4
Source: Hong Kong Observatory[35]


The city is politically subdivided into 98 barangays or barrios. These are grouped into two congressional districts, with 38 barangays or barrios in the West Coast and 60 barangays or barrios in the East Coast.

District I (West Coast)[edit]

Calle Rizal or Rizal Road in Zamboanga City
  • Baliwasan
  • Ayala
  • Sta. Maria
  • Baluno
  • Cabatangan
  • Calarian
  • Camino Nuevo
  • Campo Islam
  • Canelar
  • Capisan
  • Cawit
  • Dulian Pasonanca
  • Kasanyangan
  • La Paz
  • Labuan
  • Lamisahan
  • Limpapa
  • Maasin
  • Malagutay
  • Pamucutan
  • Pasonanca
  • Patalon
  • Recodo
  • Lower Calarian
  • Suterville
  • Rio Hondo
  • San Jose Cawa Cawa
  • San Jose Gusu
  • San Ramon
  • San Roque
  • Sinunuc
  • Sinubong
  • Sta. Barbara
  • Sta. Maria
  • Sto. Niño
  • Talisayan
  • Tulungatung
  • Tumaga
  • Zone I
  • Zone II
  • Zone III
  • Zone IV

District II (East Coast)[edit]

R.T. Lim Boulevard, A major road in Zamboanga City named after Sen. Roseller T. Lim the first senator from Zamboanga Peninsula
  • Arena Blanco
  • Boalan
  • Bolong
  • Buenavista
  • Bunguiao
  • Busay (Island Barangay)
  • Cabaluay
  • Cacao
  • Calabasa
  • Culianan
  • Curuan
  • Dita
  • Divisoria
  • Dulian Bunguiao
  • Guisao
  • Guiwan
  • Landang Gua (Island Barangay)
  • Landang Laum (Island Barangay)
  • Lanzones
  • Lapakan
  • Latuan Curuan
  • Licomo
  • Limaong
  • Lubigan
  • Lumayang
  • Lumbangan
  • Lunzuran
  • Mampang
  • Manalipa
  • Manicahan
  • Mangusu
  • Mariki
  • Mercedes
  • Muti
  • Pangapuyan (Island Barangay)
  • Panubigan
  • Pasilmanta (Island Barangay)
  • Pasabolong
  • Putik
  • Quiniput
  • Salaan
  • Sangali
  • Sibulao Curuan
  • Sta. Catalina
  • Tagasilay
  • Taguiti
  • Talabaan
  • Talon-Talon
  • Taluksangay
  • Tetuan
  • Tictapul
  • Tigbalabag
  • Tictabon (Island Barangay)
  • Tolosa
  • Tugbungan
  • Tumalutab (Island Barangay)
  • Tumitus
  • Victoria
  • Vitali
  • Zambowood


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1898 19,844 —    
1903 20,692 +4.3%
1918 42,007 +103.0%
1939 73,894 +75.9%
1948 103,317 +39.8%
1960 131,489 +27.3%
1970 199,901 +52.0%
1975 265,023 +32.6%
1980 343,722 +29.7%
1990 442,345 +28.7%
1995 511,139 +15.6%
2000 601,794 +17.7%
2007 774,407 +28.7%
2010 807,129 +4.2%
Source: National Statistics Office[2]


The population of Zamboanga has registered an increase of 172,613 (an average annual growth rate of 3.54 percent) in seven years, latest data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed. The data released by the NSO regional office based in this city showed that from 601,794 in 2000, the population grew to 807,129 as of May 1, 2010.[36]

Among the 98 barangays in this Zamboanga, Talon-Talon was the most populous with a 3.9-percent share of this city’s population. Next to Talon-Talon were Tetuán (3.8 percent), Baliwasan (3.6 percent), Pasonanca (3.5 percent), Calarian and Tumaga both with 3.3-percent share, and San José Gusu (3.2 percent).


According to statistics compiled by the Philippine government, the most dominant religion in the city is Roman Catholicism with 50 percent Islam has 25 percent. while Christian minorities are Protestants, Iglesia Ni Cristo, Jesus Miracle Crusade, Orthodox Christians and Seventh-day Adventist.

Patron Saint of Zamboanga City: Nuestra Señora del Pilar Zamboanga City has various religious groups:

  • Catholics - The city contains the first Catholic diocese in Mindanao, today's Archdiocese of Zamboanga which was created in 1910 and elevated to an archbishopric in 1958.[citation needed]The two catholic parishes named below serve the downtown zamboanga city catholic faithfuls. There are several other catholic parishes all throughout Zamboanga City. Most of the Catholics are the Zamboangueño Ethnic with sizable size of other Ethnicities who are either Tausug Ethnic, Sama Ethnic, Cebuano Ethnic, Tagalog Ethnic, Subanon Ethnic.

Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - (Founded: 1816) Archbishop Romulo Valles,DD - Parish Priest Fr. Sulficio Soliva Fr. Adriano Ruiz Fr. Francis Edwin Jacinto Msgr. Joseph Kung St. Joseph (Chinese) Parish - (Founded: 1954) Msgr. David Alonzo - Parish Priest Fr. Joel Malcampo - Parochial Vicar

  • Sunni Muslims - The Muslims have been an integral part of Zamboanga City after the Pagans and Animists. Before Christianity was practiced in Zamboanga City. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the people in Zamboanga City are Sunni, Traditional and Folk Muslims. Some barangays of Zamboanga City are populated by 100% Muslims. These barangays with Muslim majority population, do not celebrate "Fiestas". Instead, they celebrate Hari Raya (the eid celebration). Most of the Muslims are the Sama Ethnics and the Migrant Tausug Ethnic of Sulu, and of other Ethnicities who are either Tagalog Ethnic, Zamboangueño Ethnic, Yakan Ethnic, Badjao Ethnic.
  • Pagan and Animist - Prior to arrival of the foreign religions both Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, Paganism and Animism were the first to set foot in the Kingdom of Jambangan (present-dat: City of Zamboanga, Zamboanga Sibugay Province, Sirawai, Sibuco and Siocon) or as per the actual the territory of the Kingdom of Jambangan's Punta Gorda to Punta Plecha.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Conception[edit]

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a church located in Zamboanga City, Philippines. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga.

The first church was located at the front of Plaza Pershing, where the present Universidad de Zamboanga stands. The church was designated a cathedral in 1910 when the diocese of Zamboanga was created. In 1943, the cathedral was one of the edifices bombarded by Japanese soldiers during World War II. In 1956, the cathedral was relocated beside Ateneo de Zamboanga University, formerly known as the Jardin de Chino.


Zamboangueño Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole language, one of the Filipino Languages was born in the City of Zamboanga on 1635 and the native language of the Zamboangueño Ethnic group living around Zamboanga City, Basilan and the Filipino Disapora. English, Tagalog by the Tagalog Ethnic Group, and Cebuano by the Cebuano/Sugbuanon Ethnic Group are also used by the residents who are migrants to the City.[37]

The other major Filipino languages spoken by other Filipino ethnic groups in Zamboanga are: Tagalog, English, Cebuano/Sugbuanon/Bisaya/Binisaya, Tausug, Subanen, Samal, Spanish and Chinese. English is still the language used in all the school system to educate the public. Zamboangueño Chavacano, Tagalog or other native Filipino languages is the second language used for education, though the Zamboangueño language is preferred among Zamboangueño ethnic group.


A Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas facility in city

Zamboanga's exports include rubber, pearls, copra, mahogany, fish, abaca, and fruits.[citation needed]

Several notable companies are based in Zamboanga City, either by having large plants or corporate headquarters in this highly urbanized city.

Name Sector Founded Notes
Al-Amanah Islamic Bank Banking 1973 First and only Islamic bank in the Philippines.
Galleria Zamboanga, Inc. Retail 1976?
Golden Broadcast Professionals Media 1992? Operates a radio station and a television station.
Mindanao Examiner Media 2006 Independent regional newspaper.
Shoppers' Chain of Stores Retail 1981? Operates a chain of department stores and supermarkets.
Weesam Express Transportation 1997 Shipping and ferry service.
ZAMCELCO Power 1974 An electrical power supplier.

Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority[edit]

The Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority (Zamboecozone) also known as Zamboanga Freeport Authority (ZFA), was created by virtue of the Republic Acts of the Philippines 7903 of the Philippines Constitution in the year 1995. It was authored by the then congresswoman and late mayor of the city of Zamboanga, María Clara L. Lobregat.[38]

The Special Economic Zone was enacted into law on February 23, 1995 and made operational a year later with the appointment of a chairman and administrator and the members of the Board by former President Fidel V. Ramos. It is located about 20 km from the city center. It is one of the three current Economic Freeport Zones outside Luzon.[citation needed]

Shopping malls[edit]

Seaweed industry[edit]

Seaweed production plants in Zamboanga, along with Cebú and Southern Luzon, produce most of the world's supply of carrageenan. Seventy-five percent of the country's eucheuma and kappaphycus seaweed is produced mostly in the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago.[39]

Sardine industry[edit]

Zamboanga is called the Sardines Capital of the Philippines,[40] because 9 out of 12 sardines companies in the country are operating in the city. The canning factories are converged in the west coast of Zamboanga. Sardine fishing and processing account for about 70 percent of the city's economy.[citation needed] Situated at the western tip of the Mindanao mainland, Zamboanga is a natural docking point for vessels traversing the rich fishing grounds of the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago.

Canned sardine firms in this city that have upgraded their production to conform to international food safety and quality standards are looking to enter new markets in Russia and other European countries. In 2008, Zamboanga exported 13,000 tonnes of canned sardines, worth approximately $16 million.[41]


The Department of Tourism has selected Zamboanga City as a flagship tourism destination in Zamboanga Peninsula.[42] Domestic and foreign tourist arrivals increased 8 percent to 439,160 in 2005, according to data from the regional tourism office. The same report notes that Filipinos accounted for 80 percent of the tourist arrivals. Moreover, 50 percent of those tourists visited Zamboanga City before.[43]

Parks, landmarks and other sites[edit]

Sta. Cruz Island
Paseo del Mar with the Lantaka Hotel

Numerous landmarks, tourist spots and parks in Zamboanga include:

Festivals and events[edit]

The Día de Zamboanga (Day of Zamboanga) is celebrated every February 26, the day when Zamboanga was declared as a chartered city under the Commonwealth Government in 1937. The Hermosa Festival, a month-long festival held every October, is celebrated in honor of the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of Zamboanga City.[44]



Jose Rizal's monument and the City Hall of Zamboanga since 1907

Zamboanga is the third oldest city in the Philippines, with a mayor-council form of government.[45]

Formerly the city government was in a commission form shortly existed between 1912 and 1914 with an appointed mayor.[citation needed] It then was replaced by a municipal form of government headed by a municipal mayor assisted by a municipal vice-president.

When the City Charter of Zamboanga was signed on October 12, 1936,[citation needed] the municipal government was converted into a city one headed by a mayor appointed by the President of the Philippine Commonwealth.

With the passage of Republic Act No. 1210 on April 29, 1955, the position of mayor became elective and the post of vice-mayor was created.

Representation in Congress[edit]

The city received its own representation for the Philippine Congress in 1984 when the Regular Batasang Pambansa was convened. Previously, Zamboanga City was part of the representation of the Zamboanga Province from 1935 to 1953, of Zamboanga del Sur from 1953 to 1972 and of Region IX from 1978 to 1984.

The former lone congressional district was further divided into two separate districts: the West Coast District from the City Proper to Barangay Limpapa represented by incumbent Congressman Celso Lobregat, while in the East Coast District from Barangay Tetuán to Barangay Licomo is headed by incumbent Congresswoman Lilia Macrohon-Nuño.

The city of Zamboanga is composed of more than 774,407 people since 2007.[46] Under the Republic Act No. 9269, Zamboanga City is qualified to have a third district representative in the House of Representatives.[47]


The building where the Zamboanga City Council (Sangguniang Panglungsod ng Zamboanga) holds its sessions.

The first legislative body of Zamboanga was established in 1914 composed of councilors who represented the different districts of barrios of then-municipality of Zamboanga.

When the City Charter of Zamboanga was signed on October 12, 1936, the municipal council was replaced by the City Council presided by the mayor and consisted of five councilors, the city treasurer and the city engineer. All members are appointed by the President of the Philippine Commonwealth.

With the passage of Republic Act No. 1210 on April 29, 1955, the position of mayor became elective and the post of vice-mayor was created. The Council also became elective and its membership was increased to eight presided by the vice-mayor.

During the Marcos regime, the city council was renamed to Sangguniang Panglungsod and its membership shuffled.[citation needed] The mayor became the presiding-officer while the vice-mayor became a regular member. Other representatives such as the agriculture, business and labor sectoral representatives; chairman of the Kabataan Barangay Federation and the president of the Association of Barangay Captains was added to the council. All members of the council except for the mayor and the vice-mayor are all appointed by the Preside,t

After Marcos was deposed, a new Local Government Code was enacted in 1991 and the mayor was restored to the executive branch.[citation needed] The city council organization existed since.

The current local Sangguniang Panglungsod is composed of 19 members:


Zamboanga City Hall of Justice Building

House Bill 1455 entitled an "An Act Amending Sections 14 (J) and 29 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, Otherwise Known as The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980", principally authored by Representative Climaco calls for the creation of four additional Regional Trial Court branches in the Province of Zamboanga del Sur, and the Cities of Pagadian and Zamboanga with an overall total of nineteen branches.[48]

Out of the 19 branches, ten seats shall be for Zamboanga City, and the remaining seats for Pagadian City, Molave, San Miguel, Ipil, and Aurora.

Armed forces and law enforcement[edit]

Zamboanga City hosts one of the largest number of military, police and coast guard bases in the country. The Edwin Andrews Air Base, which hosts the Air Force unit in the city is located at the Zamboanga International Airport complex. The Camp General Basilio Navarro, the main operating base of the Western Mindanao Command, hosts the main headquarters of Armed Forces of the Philippines in Western Mindanao.

The Western Mindanao Command, known officially as the WestMinCom, is one the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Wide Support Commands Combating Terrorism and Insurgency in Mindanao.

Camp General Basilio Navarro serves as the main operating base of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the Southwest Philippines, and is the Headquarters of the Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM).

The Coast Guard District South Western Mindanao is located at Upper Calarian while Coast Guard Station Zamboanga is located at Port Area Zamboanga City. Aside from performing law enfocement functions, the coast guard has been very active in rendering search and rescue operations to maritime incidents and floodings in low lying barangays of the city. Moreover, environmental protection activities were being spearheaded by the coast guard.



The Zamboanga International Airport has a 2,610-metre primary runway and can serve international flights and bigger planes such as the C-17 Globemaster III, Antonov An-124, Airbus A330 and Boeing 747.[49][50] The government has already earmarked more than 240 million pesos to complete the rehabilitation of the existing facilities of the airport.[51] The airport was ranked the tenth busiest airport in the Philippines in 2008.[52]


The primary modes of transportation within the city are serviced by jeepneys, tricycles, and habal-habal.[citation needed] Bicycles with sidecars (locally known as sikad) are also available for short-distanced trips. There are also taxi services operating within the city. Regular and air-conditioned buses of RTMI and Ceres Liner serve the long-haul routes from Zamboanga City to other areas in Mindanao and in the Visayas. Other smaller bus companies ply the routes to neighboring municipalities in the Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay areas.

Bypass road[edit]

The traffic in the city centre area is one of the problem facing the city. The 1999 feasibility study is know on the Department of Public Works and Highways (Philippines) and with the help of District II Representative Erico Basilio Fabian to finalised the Multi-Billion pesos a thirty two (32) kilometres by-pass road project it is basically links from barangay Culianan to the west coast in barangay Limpapa creating an integral link to two crucial economic and trade centres namely the Sangali Fishing Port in the east coast and the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority site in San Ramon will commerce next year. The Department of Public Works and Highways (Philippines) intends to complete before the term of the President Benigno Aquino III ends in the year 2016. It will provide for an auxiliary route where traffic could then be diverted and help ease congestion it is currently facing within the city proper.


Zamboanga has nineteen seaports and wharves, twelve of them are privately owned and the rest are owned by the government. This includes some ports of Basilan which are registered as a part of Zamboanga port management. The biggest and most modern seaport is the government-operated main port in Zamboanga, which can accommodate 20 ships at any given time. There are 25 shipping companies whose vessels regularly dock at the port of Zamboanga. The city also has fastcraft services to Sandakan, Malaysia, and one shipping cargo company from Vietnam is also serving the routes from and to Zamboanga to deliver goods from Vietnam.[53]

In 2002, the Port of Zamboanga, including the area ports of Basilan, registered 5.57 million passenger movement, surpassing Batangas by 1.3 million passengers, and Manila by over 1.59 million passengers.[54]

Last May 28, 2009, the PHP700 million port expansion project, funded by the national government was inaugurated by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.[55]



PLDT and SMART branch in Zamboanga.

Major telecommunications firm, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, maintains operations in the city. Mabuhay Satellite Corporation has set up a facility in Zamboanga in order to improve existing communications infrastructure.[56]


Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative

The Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative is the franchise holder of electric power distribution covering the entire city.

Conrado Alcantara and Sons (Conal) Holdings constructed a coal-fired power plant with an initial capacity of 100MW on a 60-hectare land inside the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority. The company expects to complete the power plant in about four years to meet the expected rise in the demand in electricity of the city by 2014.[57]


The Zamboanga Watershed is only a few kilometers north of Zamboanga City, at the tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula in southwestern Mindanao. It has the largest block of old growth lowland dipterocarp forest remaining in this part of Mindanao. It has a rolling terrain with moderate to steep slopes. This watershed is the only source of potable water for Zamboanga, and the Guiwan River also provides industrial and irrigation water for the area around the city.[citation needed] Many threatened and restricted-range endemic species have been recorded in or near this area, including recent records of Mindanao Bleeding-heart, Philippine Dwarf-Kingfisher, Philippine Leafbird and Little Slaty Flycatcher, and Zamboanga Bulbul, which is confined to Western Mindanao and Basilan. Most of the recent sightings are made in the Pasonanca Watershed, the southwestern part of the Zamboanga Watershed.[citation needed]

Zamboanga relies heavily on surface water from the Tumaga River for its water supply. Currently, the ZCWD is servicing only 48% of the total population of the total water production, 38% is accounted water. Given the projected population and the fact that the city is a highly urbanising one, it is likely that future water requirements will not be satisfied unless other sources such as rivers and springs be tapped to augment water supply sources.[58]

The Zamboanga Water District has 24 production wells. These are located in the following strategic areas within the city that are currently producing 1,304 m³ daily.[59]


Zamboanga Doctor's Hospital

There are several medical centres and hospitals in Zamboanga. The Zamboanga City Medical Center is the largest medical facility in Zamboanga Peninsula in terms of bed capacity.[citation needed] The hospital was founded in 1918 as the Zamboanga General Hospital. The Brent Hospital and Colleges, Inc. was founded on February 2, 1914 by Charles Henry Brent, the first Protestant Episcopal missionary bishop in the Philippines. Today, it operates a school within its compound, offering nursing and allied health courses.

The Zamboanga City Red Cross chapter was established on June 17, 1946, known originally as Zamboanga Chapter. The original Zamboanga Chapter comprised the city of Zamboanga and the 3 provinces of Basilan, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.[60]

In 2006, the Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH-19), anchored off of the coast of Zamboanga City, to provide of medical, dental and veterinary care for the people of the city.[61]

Sports and recreation facilities[edit]

Convention centers that host several events and congregations include the Garden Orchid Convention Centre, Marcian Convention Centre, Zamboanga City Coliseum in Tetuán, Zamboanga City Convention Centre, Astoria Regency in Pasonanca, and Patio Palmeras Convention Centres.

Sport venues in Zamboanga include the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, the Summit Centre, and the Zamboanga City Coliseum.

Zamboanga City's team was in the 1992 Little League World Series and initially won the championship, but was stripped of their title after a number of players failed to meet age and residency requirements.


Universidad de Zamboanga
Ateneo de Zamboanga University

The formal education in Zamboanga is patterned after the American system, with English as the medium of instruction. There are a number of foreign schools with study programmes.[62] Universities and major colleges include:

Foreign relations[edit]

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney and Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat in 2008

Zamboanga is a member of East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a regional economic cooperation initiative between the several countries in Southeast Asia. As a result of its membership, air and sea routes have been opened between Zamboanga and Sandakan in Malaysia. The two cities have existing trade relations and have had historical cultural interactions.[63]


Zamboanga has 40 radio stations. There are also 11 regular TV stations and 3 cable TV stations. Several local publications are operating in the various parts of the city and nearby provinces and regions such as, The Daily Zamboanga Times, The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper, Voz de Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula Journal, Zamboanga Star, Zamboanga Today and Zamboanga Forum.

Sister cities[edit]

Zamboanga is twinned with the following cities:


See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Zamboanga City".

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External links[edit]