The Zamboanga Peninsula is Mindanao’s smallest region. Located in Southwest Philippines, its 958 islands and islets make up the Diadem of the Philippine South. Two bodies of water form a ring around it – the Sulu Sea to the north and west, the Moro Gulf to the south.
Three provinces and five cities make up the Zamboanga Peninsula Region — the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay; and the cities of Dapitan, Dipolog, Pagadian, Zamboanga City, and Isabela. Zamboanga, Pagadian, and Dipolog are the major hubs of trade, commerce, industry, and education in the region.
The region hosts one freeport and special economic zone and an international airport in Zamboanga City. Ten other secondary airports operate in the region.
About a third of the Peninsula’s population is made up of ethnic communities that give the region its unique culture and color. These include the Tausugs, Samals, Yakans, Badjaos, and Subanens. The Tausugs, Badjaos, and Samals were fishermen; some still roam the seas. The Maranaos and Yakans were traders and artisans; they’ve left their imprint on traditional weaves and fabric that are still produced today.
Roughly half of the population speaks Chabacano, a dialect heavily influenced by Spanish settlers. Spanish-speakers are sure to pick up on quite a few familiar words.
Each part of the Zamboanga Peninsula shines on its own, but there is a common heritage. This is a region of beauty, history and culture. It’s been blessed by nature. It is cherished by its people.
This is what the early Chinese and Malays saw when they came over and made Zamboanga the cynosure of Southern Philippines centuries ago. Up to today, the Zamboanga Peninsula has an undeniable allure.