Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Walking Tour of Zamboanga's Downtown

Zamboanga City is a nice quiet place with century-old structures and culture well-preserved, despite the advent of modernism. They have many parks which thankfully continue to maintain their presence, unlike in Manila where parks are being displaced by giant malls.

From our hotel along Mayor Climaco St., we just walked to the modern Metropolitan Cathedral to hear mass. It has three levels, where the second level is the venue for regular mass, and accessible by 3 flight of stairs on two sides. A large cross is visible on its facade, to show that the city is dominated by Christians.

The cathedral is guarded by policemen, probably to discourage terrorist attacks. Masses are held in two languages, where Catholics can just choose the schedule they prefer below.

On our way to the cathedral, we passed this free standing "loading machine", where people can just insert coins or money bills to get mobile phone credits. Haven't seen this in Manila, not even in Makati, hehe.

Beside the cathedral is Ateneo de Zamboanga University. The kind school guard allowed us to do some photo ops on their centennial signage.

From Jimmy's Satti place in Pilar St., we just walked to the plazas on our way to the wet market. Clockwise from the top left of the photo below is Plaza Pershing (after the American general) and Plaza Rizal, the country's national hero. Rizal's statue faces the city's seat of government, which was built during the Spanish era.

As you can see from the top photo of this blog post, the municipal building is a good piece of architecture that is well-preserved after a century. They were lucky to have good politicians, and being spared from World War II air raid bombings.

The park has well-tended plants, like the blooming gumamela below. My youngest son gamely obliged to identify the parts of a flower, using this model.   

Further south of the park are Fort Pilar, Plaza del Pilar and Plaza del Mar, which I featured earlier here.

Proceeding north from our hotel to Mayor Jaldon St. is the Canelar Trade Center, a popular place in buying pasalubong. Visitors will see this arc signage that leads to the trade center.

It used to be a barter center, since Zamboanga is near Sabah in Malaysia. But the use of money bills as the medium of trade led to the demise of barter trading. 

Here is where we shopped for batik cloths, sardines, noodles, chocolates, and other goods from mostly Southeast Asian countries. We just bought the products that are hard to find in Manila.

My kids love the Mee Goreng noodles, that I was not even able to taste, out of the 5 packs we bought. The canned sardines in oil is good, not that "fishy" taste. The Maggi noodles and meat curries are for those who like spicy dishes. There is Cadbury chocolate, as well as the less-known Apollo brand, which is also good and both less expensive.

The food items at Canelar are also being sold at Mindpro mall, where I found them more expensive by at least 10%.

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