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The Grand Celebration of Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

It feels good to be back in Zamboanga. It was 2017 when I first traveled to the Asia’s Latin City for the Savores, the celebration of the city’s fusion of flavors. Now, I am back to take part in the grand celebration of the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.

Hermosa Festival is also called Fiesta Pilar as a celebration of the feast of Nuestra Senora La Virgen Del Pilar which is usually commemorated around the world on October 12. But for Zamboanga, it is a different story because the celebration continues for the entire month filled with vibrant activities and events.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

It was already dark when we arrived at the Zamboanga Airport. Ms. Precious and Jamil from DOT Region 9 office, warmly welcomed us and then took us to a familiar place for our dinner. It was nice to dine at Dennis Coffee Garden again. How could I forget this coffee shop restaurant especially their authentic Tausug dishes?

They served us this familiar huge plate with a variety of dishes circling the main dish which is the Tiulah Itum, beef in broth roasted coconut and spices. The other viands are Beef Kulma. Utak utak, Chicken Pianggang with cucumber. I already tried this when I first visited in 2017 but still, I enjoyed tasting these dishes again.

I was already full but I still, have to try the desserts such as Palikambing or Friend Banana Balls, which is my favorite, and also tandem of Jualan Panggih (Sweet Potato) and Jualan Saing (Deep Fried Bananas).

It was indeed a nostalgic first night for me in Zamboanga and it has become even more memorable as our dinner was shared with DOT Assistant Secretary  Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar, her awesome team and my fellow travel blogger, Potpot Pinili.

We checked in at Orchid Garden Hotel to rest and prepare for more activities the next day as part of the celebration of the Hermosa Festival.

Regatta de Zamboanga

Even when I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with vintas. So imagine my thrill and excitement to see hundreds of vintas during the Regatta de Zamboanga.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival
explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival
explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco.

This is an annual event, a highlight of the Hermosa Festival, where the best vinta paddlers battle it out for the ultimate champion. This year, there are 200 participants. This may be a race, but the exciting feeling of seeing numerous vintas sailing by the ocean is in itself a delightful experience.

Regatta de Zamboanga is considered as uniquely Zamboanga. If many festivals offer street dances and parades, the regatta is definitely something that you can only witness and experience in Zamboanga City.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

DOT Assistant Secretary  Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar (Center) with the rest of the Media team. Potpot of Travel Trilogy, Rush from Scoop.co Brunei, Shy of Borneo Insiders Guide and Me.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

After the Regatta, the Western Mindanao Command showcased their strength and power in protecting the people’s welfare by a Capability demonstration where spectators get to witness the military assets and talents of the AFP tasked to maintain peace and order in the region.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival
explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Wow Sardinas Grand Boodle Fight

One of my fellow travel writers from Brunei who joined us in covering the Hermosa Festival thought that people are going to have a fight, like throwing cans of sardines to one another. LOL! She’s so cute and honest in expressing her thoughts, right?

She was relieved when we explained to her the concept of Boodle fight. It is a Filipino way of eating together as a team which is derived from the military practice of eating a meal. Food is all placed on top of a long banana leaf then all would eat using the hands.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

That’s exactly what happened with the Wow Sardinas Grand Boodle Fight, all the Sardines Brands and companies in Zamboanga joined forces to share their products to tourists and participants through a boodle fight. It was indeed a long table of sardines products for the people to feast on.

We participated in the boodle fight while in front of the Kim Sardines (brand) booth. Easy to open canned sardines were lined up on a long table with rice and flakes. Everyone was welcome to join.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

I must say that I enjoyed Kim Sardines’ curry-flavored sardines. It was delicious and a bit spicy. Just the right spice and sweet taste for me. I hope they can expand their market to Manila so more can experience their products. The Wow Sardinas Grand Boodle Fight is the city’s way of showcasing the rich sardines industry in Zamboanga.

Original Chavacano Music Festival

Zamboanga City is serious at preserving its unique language, culture, and heritage. Honestly, the first time I traveled to Zamboanga, I was amazed at hearing people speaking Spanish. Well, it is actually Chavano, the language of Zamboanguenos which deeply rooted in Spanish influence.

The Philippines was colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, and the Spaniards made Zamboanga city its cultural center in the southern Philippines. This explains the deep influence of Spain’s language, culture, and heritage of the current Zamboanga city.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Chavacano is 65% Spanish and the rest is a mixture of influence from the Bisaya, Tausugs, Yakan and the nearby provinces, as explained by our warm and accommodating guide, Sir Errol of I Travel Tourist Lane.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Hataw!

With the advent of technology where younger people can easily be influenced by Western Culture it is still important that the Chavacano language is preserved.

One of their efforts to uphold the Chavacano culture is by celebrating the Chavacano Video Music Festival annually which coincides with the Hermosa Festival.

It is the battle of the best composers, musicians, and film enthusiasts. By creating and sharing original Chavano music and videos, people and the local government expect that the Chavacano culture will be instilled and preserved by the young minds of Zamboanga.

Again, it is a delight for me to watch musicians perform with some Spanish lyrics. I had some favorites like the song Liviano by Splakaboom. They really owned the stage and got a huge response from the audience. Here’s the video of their performance.

The entries for the Video music category were quite interesting, some are very creative. The night was indeed a celebration of the Chavacano culture and talents.

Mascota de Zamboanga

I’ve heard of the Mascota de Zamboanga in the past, but I didn’t expect that this could be this elegant and grand when I finally got the chance to witness it personally.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

I was in awe of the beauty of Zamboanguenas wearing the mascota. It is a fashion show and also a competition to showcase the young talents of fashion designers in the city.

Mascota is a traditional gown worn by Zamboanguenas during the Spanish colonial times. It is grand and classy with a six-piece ensemble of panuelo, corpiño, renggue, sobre falda, enaguas, and cola.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Being a judge of Mascota de Zamboanga is probably one of the hardest jobs of the festivities. Seriously, all of the gowns and models were gorgeous, but there could only be one grand winner and four consolation prizes.

Fiesta Hermosa na Isla de Sta. Cruz

It is simply bringing the Hermosa Festival to the famous pinkish beach of Zamboanga – the Great Sta. Cruz island.

A day filled with exciting games and dance performances, on top of experiencing the world-famous pink beach which happened from October 7 to 13.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival
explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

We were there during the first day of the Fiesta na Isla de Sta. Cruz. We actually tried the Mangrove tour in the morning, but we were just in time when the official island celebration and program started. Tourists joined in some fun games like Chupa kulo eating contest (local snails cooked in coconut milk and squash) and the exciting boat race.

One of the highlights for me was the Sama Banguingui dance performance. It’s so nice to witness the rich traditions and culture of people who are truly Zambuangenos. Zamboanga is a testament that people of different backgrounds and religions can co-exist peacefully by embracing each other’s culture.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Aside from the lined-up activities on the island, at the end of the day, nothing beats the feeling of relaxing in a pristine beach with pinkish sand. I’m just thankful to be back in Sta. Cruz island.

On the way back to the mainland, we stopped by at the Little Santa Cruz island where we experienced its sandbar. We even got a chance to fly a drone and have some awesome jump-shots.

Zamboanga Hermosa Streetdance Competition

Just like every festival in the country, the Streetdance competition is one of the most highly anticipated during the Hermosa Festival. It is the time for every community in Zamboanga to showcase their unique heritage through dance and performance.

The support that the participants get from their own people is overwhelming. This is truly one of the liveliest festivities in the entire Hermosa Festival.

Parade of Lights 2019

On the day of the fiesta which is October 12, the night is filled with floats with fascinating colors and light for the Hermosa Festival’s Parade of Lights.

The city’s different organizations, schools, and businesses take part in the float parade and compete for the most creative and grandest float.

I had a great time during my second visit to Zamboanga for the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival. If you plan to visit  Zamboanga soon, you can plan and travel anytime. Zamboanga is lovely and it is safe for everyone.

But if you have a chance, visit Zamboanga during the Hermosa Festival. You’ll definitely enjoy one of the longest and grandest festivals in the Philippines.

explore, travel, the grand celebration of zamboanga hermosa festival

Please note that these are just some of the main highlights of the Hermosa Festival, there are other activities and events which are quite interesting also like the Queen Festival, DanceSport Competition, Mutya ng Zamboanga, Compressport Hermosa Triathlon, and a lot more. Remember, the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is a monthlong celebration.

Note: This travel to experience the grand celebration of the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival was made possible through the Office of DOT Assistant Secretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar and DOT Region 9 Office. Thank you Asec. Myra and your awesome team.

To avail of the best Zamboanga tour, I highly recommended I Travel Tourist Lane.