My family was anxious about my trip, but I said I was just going to be gone for about 24 hours. I love Mindanao and I have friends all over Mindanao. They call Cagayan de Oro "The city of golden friendship", but to me that extends to all of Mindanao.
My trip went perfectly. Plane took off on time and landed on time. Did not experience any turbulence and the sky was clear. I peered out the window and saw how different Zamboanga's landscape was compared to other places I've been to. I also noted an island and islet near Zamboanga -- Basilan and Santa Cruz I learned later in the day.
Airport to Hotel, literally just a 5 minute walk
My dear friend, Yolynne, was waiting for me outside of the airport. The Garden Orchid Hotel was just a few meters away so we just walked. I didn't even break a sweat. Check-in was a breeze and then we hopped on a tricycle to go to Ateneo de Zamboanga University.
I mused that the school looked a lot like Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro and the building we entered looked like the computer science building of Ateneo de Manila University. I was then surprised by the Sockksargen bloggers who were all sporting DevFest shirts!
We then started the photo walk to Paseo del Mar. We passed the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Concepcion. The church was huge and looked very modern.
After a few more meters Avel insisted I back-ride on Arnel's motorcycle since I was on the verge of having an asthma attack. I admit I was terrified since it's been 2 decades since I rode a hopper (take not a hopper and not a motorcycle). Arnel drove slowly and gave me a short tour of the city. We passed by Plaza Rizal, the City Hall, went around Fort Pilar and finally parked at Paseo del Mar.
Paseo del Mar
Paseo del Mar is Zamboanga's newest park/gimmick place. I immediately loved the place because of the breeze coming from the Zamboanga Peninsula. You can also see Basilan and Santa Cruz from Paseo del Mar.
While waiting for the other bloggers (from Davao, GenSan, Iligan and CDO), Arnel, Blogie and I shared a pizza (it was just PhP35!) while watching the hiding sun set. Later on we ate again at Distrito and had some very, very spicy kilawin. After dinner we visited Fort Pilar where Bobby and I learned more about Zamboanga from Yolynne.
The only things I was able to buy in Zamboanga were Spanish sardines, lukot-lukot (great with ice cream!) and a woven wallet. I learned though from Mayor Celso Lobregat's talk the next day at the Mindanao Blogger's Summit that Zamboanga has more industrial businesses. They have more than ten canning factories that produce almost 20 famous sardine brands. And they also have tin can factories that support these businesses. Zamboanga is the fifth largest city in the Philippines. In fact Metro Manila would cover less than one-fourth of Zamboanga according to Mayor Lobregat. Wow!
I didn't get to see much of Zamboanga because my time was limited, but I'm very happy that I did go. I would surely remember the warm welcome of friends and participants of the 4th Mindanao Bloggers Summit.
Iligan, I hope to be there soon! (And many, many thanks for the Chedeng's peanuts!!!).