Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Zamboanga City in a Day

Zamboanga City, located in the island of Mindanao, is also known as Asia's Latin City. At one time the Spanish colonial regime chose the city as its main headquarters. Spanish influence is prevalent in Filipino languages, more so in Chavacano, the language spoken here. I listened in to the conversations of the locals, fishing out Spanish words that I can still recall from classes I took at the Instituto Cervantes. 

Here's a rundown of things to do while in the city: 

1. Eat Curacha (Spanner Crabs) at Alavar's 

Also known as red frog crabs, these odd-looking marine dwellers are almost as tasty as mud crabs, with their firm, white flesh. Your best bet for curacha is at Alavar Seafood Restaurant. You can read more here

2. Score Some Yakan Woven Products 

The Yakans are one of the many Muslim communities living in the city, and the Yakan Village is popular for their weaving. Their products are colorful and make use of intricate  patterns. 

an abbreviated table runner, perfect as a ref top
coasters in every hue. i bought a set of the green ones on the upper left
this pillow case packs a visual wallop, and is now my dvd-watching companion
purses galore
3. Buy Malaysian Products at the Port Area Barter Market 

The city is a free port zone, which translates to Malaysian and Indonesian grocery items at very reasonable prices. This is where I source Cadbury Eclairs. Lately I bought canned goods and noodle products. I can't get enough of Maggi Peranakan Kari instant noodles, a steaming bowl of which is perfect for rainy weather.

clothes and accessories are aplenty, like these scarves
this is excellent with seafood such as scallops
3. Book a Room at Garden Orchid Hotel 

i love this chandelier made of seashells 

Make sure to get a room from the new wing of the hotel, which is modern, bright and airy. Being walking distance from the airport is no longer its only best feature.

4. Watch the Dancing Fountain at the Paseo del Mar  

The Paseo del Mar, a seafront parkway, gets alive with people in the afternoon. One can stroll along the walkway, gaze at the sea or take a glimpse of Basilan, choose from the open air restaurants and bars, listen to the live bands, or watch the dancing fountain for P10.00. Before heading to the 30-minute light and fountain show, we made a stop at the Knickerbocker stall. To read more about it, click here

While chilling along the breakwater, locals on bancas enticed us to buy souvenirs. One of my colleagues fell in love with a rooster knick knack.

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