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Cuidad de Zamboanga, Asia's Latin City

Officially, the City of Zamboanga (Chavacano de Zamboanga/Spanish: Ciudad de Zamboanga) is a highly-urbanized city located on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It is one of the first chartered cities and the sixth largest in the country. Zamboanga City is also one of several cities in the Philippines that are independent of any province, though it is usually grouped with Zamboanga del Sur for statistical purposes. The word Zamboanga is a corrupted version of the Bahasa Sug jambangan, which means garden.

Philippine Commonwealth Act No. 39 of 1936 signed by President Manuel L. Quezon on October 12, 1936 in Malacañan Palace created and established Zamboanga as a chartered city. It has been known variously as "El Orgullo de Mindanao" (The Pride of Mindanao), nicknamed the "City of Flowers," and affectionately called by Zamboangueños as "Zamboanga Hermosa" - Chavacano/Spanish for "Beautiful Zamboanga." Today, the city is commercially branded for tourism by the city government as "Asia's Latin City," a clear reference to Zamboanga's identification with the Hispanized cultures of "Latin America" or the USA's "Latino" subculture. the City was formerly a part of the Commonwealth Era Moro Province of Mindanao. Its ancient inhabitants were vassals of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

Zamboanga City is one of the oldest cities in the country and is the most Hispanized. It is also one of the largest cities in the world in terms of area, with over 1,480 km², including its 28 surrounding islands. Its recorded population in 2007 was 774,407. Zamboanga is home to three major universities: Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Western Mindanao State University, and the newly-elevated Universidad de Zamboanga. 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.


The Spanish colonizers found difficulty in pronouncing “Samboangan” and instead called the place “Zamboanga”. The city has rich and colorful history. It was the center of barter trading among Chinese, Malays and the native Tausugs, Samals, Subanons, and the Badjaos as early as the 13th and 14th centuries. It was in 1569 when the Spaniards made their presence felt with a small Catholic Mission established briefly at La Caldera, now known as Recodo. The city's patron saint is La Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zaragoza Our Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza, Spain. A statue honoring the saint is prominently embossed above the façade on the eastern wall of Fort Pilar.

Much later on June 23, 1635, the cornerstone of what is now known as Fort Pilar was laid by Father Melchor de Vera, a Jesuit Priest-Engineer and the Spanish authorities. This date marked the change of the name of the place from Samboangan to Zamboanga. It is the city’s founding date. The meter-thick walled fort is officially called El Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza (also called El Real Fuerza de San José in its early days).

In 1899, after the Spanish-American War in the Philippines, the United States of America defeated the forces of the unrecognized government of the Republic of Zamboanga under Gen. Vicente Alvarez y Solis thereby establishing full authority in Zamboanga. A special form of government was established in Mindanao and Sulu. Zamboanga was made the capital. The first form of which was the Moro province and during the 12 years of its existence, the American Military Government in the Philippines converted Zamboanga into a city in the Commission Form, the first province of Mindanao to become a city. However, the government of the Moro Province was abolished to give way to a new form of government, the Department of Mindanao and Sulu. This form of government entrusted to the Filipino residents of Zamboanga practically all positions in government.

The commonwealth of the Philippines on 1936 declared Zambaonga as a Charter City. Progress and development in Zamboanga continued and in 1983, the Minister Interior Jose Roño proclaimed Zamboanga City as a highly urbanized city.

Related Links: Chavacano Language, Chavacano de Cavite, Chavacano de Zamboanga
Source: Wikipedia

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