6 Spots in Which to Savor Zamboanga’s Charming Simplicity

Recently, my friends and I explored three cities in Zamboanga: Dipolog, Dapitan, and Pagadian.

Each one has a unique touch of enchantment, nature, and history that easily captured our wandering hearts.

The story of my trip began with riding the habal-habal. I savored the moment so much that I actually skipped taking actual photos. I breathed in the fresh air and marveled at the row of green trees that paved our way. I witnessed the sun bleed red and shimmer in orange as it cut through the arcane sky. I gazed at the flock of birds that flew above me and pushed mightier than the wind. There were no tall buildings to block this overall image of nature.

The locals there have a close rapport with nature that influence the way they live. They are down-to-earth and friendly. You can easily ask them for directions and modes of transportation to reach your destination.

Spots Worth Visiting in Zamboanga

Sungkilaw Falls, Dipolog

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Ben Sweetland said, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” And we can totally relate. On our way, we were dripping wet and freezing while riding the habal-habal, firmly gripping each other’s waist as the rain fell heavily and tried to stop us from reaching Sungkilaw Falls. I don’t have any documentation of that heart-racing moment, but it was one of the best moments of my life.

We climbed a hundred steps before we got a view of Sungkilaw Falls. The rain caused raging waves, so we just sat on the cliff while admiring the waterfall’s ambiance and wondering how deep it was.

Puting Balas Sandbar, Pagadian

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After taking a 30-minute boat ride, we basked on the stretch of Puting Balas’ vanilla-colored sand and its clear coral blue waters. The sandbar is a playground for talangkas that create small voids in the sand. We were also a bit lucky to see a blue starfish near the shore.

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Note: Located in Zamboanga del Sur, Pagadian is a 4-hour bus ride from Dipolog City.

Church, Heritage House, and Rizal Park and Shrine in Dapitan

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Built in 1871, St. James Church symbolizes the early Christianization of Dapitan. The church has a special connection with Jose Rizal as a marker stands on its ground where our national hero used to hear mass on Sundays during his exile in Dapitan.

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The church presents a vintage look. Inside is a dazzling ceiling with an optical illusion of a circular swirl. It has a simple yet refreshing atmosphere with its colorful facades. In contrast, the church’s exterior walls are unpainted and remind me of an unfinished but beautiful masterpiece.

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As we strolled along the city, we saw government offices and heritage structures with primitive architectural designs, contributing to the antique ambiance of the city plaza.

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A few steps away, we reached Aniano Adasa Heritage House. The building is an emblem of American architecture with a touch of Spanish structural lattice artwork, while the sliding windows adhere to a Japanese style.

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To end our Dapitan Historical trip, we went to Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape where you can find Casa Residencia, the main house that served as Rizal’s residence.

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There’s also a museum inside which contains an extensive collection of Rizal’s letters, literary pieces, artworks, and relics.

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Located here is also the big rock where Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken used to meet. Remember the chapter in Noli Me Tangere entitled “Suyuan sa Asotea”? I wonder if their moments on that rock were the inspiration for this.


Dakak Beach Resort

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The last part of our trip was spent at Dakak Beach Report in Dapitan City. The beach has cotton-candy blue water and fine sand that make it ideal to visit for a dip. We waited for the sun’s farewell, indicating the end of our trip for the day.

This trip made me see life’s beauty through minimalism. Through my short trip, I was able to experience the simple yet beautiful life of the locals. I took time away from my mind’s clutter and laughed endlessly, relished the moments, and appreciated all of the small things in life.

Check out this other amazing place in Mindanao, too!