Zamboanga Hermosa Festival | Zamboanga City
Among the many cultural traits that Spain left the Philippines with in their 300-year rule is their love for fiestas. And nowhere is this Spanish carnival more felt than in Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.
Si, from songs sang in Spanish-rich lyrics to graceful dances in traje de mestiza, it’s easy to spot the depth of Spain’s influence here.
In case you don’t know it, the Spaniards made Zamboanga City its cultural center in the south back in the 17th century. Their buildings, food & their Spanish creole language called “chavacano” indeed bear strong traces of deep Hispanic culture.
Vamos a celebrar at Zamboanga Hermosa Festival
Zamboanga Hermosa Festival or commonly known as Fiesta Pilar celebrates the feast of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar. She is the revered patroness of Zamboanga City whose miracles of healing & protection coddle massive devotion.
Her feast day is commemorated worldwide every October 12. But in Zamboanga City, activities fill the town with fun for a month. It is one of the longest running festivals in the country today.
Although largely Catholic in nature, Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is also a local traditional occasion. It is the time when all of its communities gather together to celebrate their diversity & the abundance of the passing year.
Zamboanga City is home to Hispanic Christians, seafaring Muslims & the indigenous Subanen. This multiplicity of culture weaves seamlessly into one social fabric that makes them all Zamboangeños.
Regatta de Zamboanga
The highlight week opens with a feast for the eyes in the annual Regatta de Zamboanga. This competition showcases 200 of the fastest vinta paddlers in their psychedelic sail. Usually, the Sama & Badjao people dominate this game whose strength & skill speak of their lifelong affair with the sea.
Wow Sardinas Grand Boodle Fight
If you’ve ever thought where your canned sardines are from, look down south because it’s here where it all begins. And Zamboanga City isn’t called the Sardines Capital of the Philippines for nothing. On this occasion, thousands of people share a communal meal on the longest boodle fight of sardines there is in the country.
Mascota de Zamboanga
Mascota is Zamboanga’s expression of the traje de mestiza worn in the colonial past. On a special night, young designers & models bring this traditional dress back to life in a glittering competition.
Grand would be an understatement to describe this complex garment. It is a 6-piece ensemble composed of corpiño, candongga/panuelo, renggue, sobre falda, cola as well as enaguas.
Original Chavacano Video Music Festival
Zamboañgenos are proud of their musicality as much as they are of their language. Put them together plus their vibrant GenZ artists & what you get is an awesome playlist of original modern chavacano songs.
Dance Sport Competition
Zamboañgenos take their cha-cha-cha, rumba, samba, paso doble, mambo & tango seriously. So don’t ever challenge them on the dance floor because even kids as young as 9 years old could wow you with their moves.
Asao in chavacano means roasted. And mention the word roasted to any Filipino would likely mean lechon! Yes, because what’s a fiesta like Zamboanga Hermosa Festival without a lechon? Here, it’s not just one but a parade of succulent lechon.
Miss Zamboanga & More
Imagine a town peopled with exotic southern Filipino genes mixed with Spanish qualities. Obviously, what you get is a beauty powerhouse. Miss Zamboanga & all other beauty contests are among the most anticipated events during the festival season.
Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is also the best time to shop for everything local. ZamPeX exhibits & sells all stuff made in Zamboanga Peninsula. From the finest Yakan woven tenun & Tausug traditional mats to food goodies like the banana chips of Zanorte, everything is here.
Then there are other great finds too like E-Cure’s organic health drinks & Sibugay’s dried fish.
As always, the street dancing competition & showdown is the most attended event in Zamboanga Hermosa Festival. It is at this time when every community battle out in the best production of performance art showcasing heritage & thanksgiving.
Parade of Lights
On the eve of the fiesta, Zamboanga City glows in a mesmerizing light show. Lighted floats fill the streets with radiant caravans. The city hall also enthralls everyone, as the city’s most prominent heritage building comes to a magical light spectacle.
The procession of the image of Nuestra Señora La Virgen del Pilar is always a moving moment to watch. Throngs of devotees all come together in a prayer parade, swarming the Blessed Virgin in a sea of people, candles & flowers.
A tourist-friendly city, Zamboanga offers a lot of wonderful travel experiences on top of witnessing the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.
Zamboanga City has daily direct flights from Manila, Cebu & Cagayan de Oro. Also, it is easy to book accommodations with so many choices around town. Truly, with so much fun & convenience, you won’t regret coming to Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.
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This trip was made in partnership with
Department of Tourism – Region 9
Tourism Promotions Board – Philippines