Zamboanga Festivals You Should Watch Out in 2020

March 5, 2020
By: clark March 5, 2020
Blur Festival

What are the festivals in Zamboanga?

  1. Zamboanga Hermosa Festival
  2. Regatta de Zamboanga
  3. Flores de Mayo
  4. Zamboanga City Bird Festival


Like most festivals in the Philippines, Zamboanga festivals symbolically constitute a renewal of the past celebrated in the present time. Festivals are a way of recalling the mythical or historical origins of a community and its people. The youngest of all cultural groups in Western Mindanao is also a product of Spanish colonization in the Southern Filipinas, which is why many of Zamboanga’s festivals are influenced by the Hispanics.

Take a look at four of the popular festivals celebrated by the Zamboangueños where people from within the country and around the world join to experience the colorful stories, merry dancing, and the Chavacano cuisine.


Zamboanga Hermosa Festival

Locally known as Fiest Pilar, the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is a month-long celebration held annually during October in the city center of the Zamboanga Peninsula. The people of Zamboanga celebrates and honors the city’s patron saint Nuestra Señora del Pilar or Our Lady of the Pillar. The patroness’ likeness is immortalized in the Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza also known as Fort Pilar. The location used to be a military defense fortress built by the Spanish colonial government in the 17th century.

The Zamboangueños devotion to the patron saint is supplemented by rich legend and stories of miracles as well as apparitions. These stories are passed on from generation to generation that allows the story of saint to live on.

Hermosa Festival features plenty of activities such as sports events, musical concerts, trade fairs, Chavacano song festival, and the popular street dance competitions joined by different schools in the city. The last but definitely not the least of all activities is the Wow Zamboanga. It is a talent show that showcases the tastes, ideas, skills, and talents of different neighborhoods that most are the highlight of any tourist’s festival experience.


Regatta de Zamboanga

Silhouette of yacht in the open ocean on the sunset

Considered a part of the Fiesta Pilar or Zamboanga Hermosa Festival is the Regatta de Zamboanga. It is a water racing sports event featuring locally-made vintas and bancas. These water vessels are colorful outrigger boats of the Mindanaoans used for deep sea trolling. The makers of these boats utilize a combination of bold and vibrant colors to embody a Hermosa – which in Spanish and Chavacano means beautiful.

While the event can be witnessed by Filipinos and people around the world, only Zamboanga residents are allowed to join the racing competition. Each boat could carry two people who are supposed to paddle at the speed of the wind that carries the sail along a predetermined course of about 400 meters. The first five finishers of the race won cash prizes, food packages, and recognition.


Flores de Mayo

Back in 1635, the Spanish forces found the city of Zamboanga on the site of a native settlement. The term “Zamboanga” is derived from the Malay word jambangan which means a place of flowers like bougainvillea, orchids, and other tropical flowers. Since then, Zamboanga City was known to be Ciudad de Flores or City of Flowers in the Mindanao region.

To commemorate the founding of the city, Zamboangueños held an annual month-long celebration during May. Flores de Mayo, also known as Flowers of May, is also a celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary. It is celebrated by many locals by offering flowers in churches and village chapels found in barrios. At some point in the month, the Virgin Mary, adorned with colorful floral decorations, is paraded.

The festival ends with a monthlong celebration with Santacruzan wherein young ladies parade through town. It is a ritual pageant that also depicts the discovery of the cross by Queen Helena. Filipinos visit the city to take part in the Flores de Mayo wearing beautiful national gowns.


Zamboanga City Bird Festival

Zamboanga City Bird Festival

Zamboanga City is not only rich in birdlife but is also an attractive place for migratory birds due to its suitable ecosystem. Apart from that, the coastal wetlands of the city invite migratory terns and wader species such as sandpipers and plovers. Numerous natural fishponds serve as nesting areas for a myriad of bird species like black-crowned herons and great egrets. With this, the Zamboangueños decided to celebrate the beautiful and natural event.

Bird-watchers, conservationists, and local as well as foreign tourists gather in Zamboanga City to join the country’s biggest celebration of avifaunal diversity at the Zamboanga City Bird Festival. The first-ever local bird festival was organized by the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST) in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT), and Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). It anchored on the theme “Dia de Aves: Discubrir Naturaleza en Ciudad” which translates to “Day of the Birds: Discover the Nature within the City”.

The festival originated to renounce the glory of Zamboanga when it hosted the 9th Philippine Bird Festival in 2014. During the festival, all participants parade in colorful bird costumes and local restaurants showcase their special cuisine.


Key Takeaway

If you are considering to join the celebrations of Zamboanga Festivals but unsure of where to find a place to stay, there are plenty of hotels that have amenities and generous packages to accommodate your needs. Hotels, like LM Hotel, offer a place conducive for relaxation. Return to your hotel suite with Jacuzzi after a long day of celebrating the colorful and historical festivals with fellow Zamboangueños.