Volume II Part I
Situation Analysis


2.1   The Study Area

       2.1.1      Location and Land Area

Zamboanga City is located at the southernmost tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula. It is approximately 460 nautical miles from Manila, 373 from Cebu and 340 from Davao City, respectively. The City is also 365 and 345 nautical miles northeast of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Menado, Indonesia (Maps I-1 and I-2). It is bounded on the north by the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur, on the west by the Sulu Sea, on the east by the Moro Gulf and on the south by Basilan Strait and Celebes Sea. Its urban center is located at 6 deg. 54’ North Latitude and 122 deg. 4’ and 30” East latitude.

The City has an inland area of about 142,089.90 has. or 1, 420. 899 sq. km. However it also includes, 25 islands, which total 6, 248. 50 has. bringing its aggregate area to about 148, 338. 49 has.


      2.1.2    Historical Background

Zamboanga City has a rich and colorful history. It was the center of barter trade among the Chinese-Malays and the natives as early as the 13th and 14th centuries. Archeological finds, such as pottery, proved that the Chinese presence was substantial even during the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. The inhabitants then were the Subanons along the riverbanks in the hinterlands, and the Samals and Badjaos in the coastal areas.

It was only in 1593 when the Spaniards made their presence felt with a Catholic mission established briefly at La Caldera, now known as Recodo. On June 23, 1635, Father Melchor de Vera, a Spanish Jesuit priest and an engineer laid the cornerstone of what is now historic Fort Pilar. This date also marked the change of the name from Samboangan1, to its present name, Zamboanga, thus, June 23 can be commemorated as “El Dia de Zamboanga”, which is incidentally, a day ahead of “Araw ng Maynila”.

From almost three centuries, the Spaniards held sway over what is now Zamboanga City with Fort Pilar as the center of settlement. The influx of Spaniards and other ethnic groups from Luzon and Visayan islands attracted various people from neighboring islands of Basilan and Sulu Archipelago. Seeking protection from the pirate raids and the unstable living conditions, people from the outlying areas and islands immigrated into the “Villa”, the settlement formally proclaimed Leal y Valiente Villa by Spanish crown in 1872.



Location Map




Vicinity Map



The long and relatively continuous presence of the Spaniards amidst many Filipinos ethnic groupings resulted in the development of CHAVACANO, a unique dialect that is a mixture of Spanish and the native dialects. Chavacano is still the predominant medium of communication in the City today.

Christianity was introduced in Zamboanga City. The Archdiocese of Zamboanga included the whole of Mindanao, except Sulu, where Islam was introduces much earlier.

In 1898, a year after the Treaty of Paris, the Philippines was ceded to the United States of America and the Americans occupied Zamboanga City. In 1901, the settlement was formally organized into a municipality under Public Act No. 135 by the union of Zamboanga and Tetuan Districts.

From 1903 to 1913, Zamboanga was the capital of the Moro Province, or the whole of Mindanao, which was compromised of five districts, Cotabato, Davao, Sulu, Lanao, and Zamboanga. This period saw the construction of the present day City Hall Building. It was the Provincial Capitol building which housed the Office of the Governor Military General John “Black Jack” S. Pershing.

On September 15, 1911, the governing body of the Moro Province, the Legislative Council, passed Act No. 272 converting the municipality of Zamboanga into a City with a commission of government. This Act took effect on January 1, 1912 with the appointment of American Christopher Frederick Bader as the first City Mayor. When Bader resigned in 1914 Victoriano Tarrosa, a Zamboangueño, succeeded him and became the first Filipino Mayor of the City. 

However, the city status was short-lived, since on April 22, 1914, it was reduced to a military station and in a few months reverted to a “municipio” headed by a Municipal President. Tarrosa continued as Municipal President until 1916. Since then, the following were elected as Municipal Presidents:

Alfonso Ramos                           1916-1919      

Crispin Atilano                           1919-1922      

Gregorio E. Ledesma                 1922-1925     

            Felipe Ramos                              1925-1928

Felipe Ramos                              1928-1931

Felipe Ramos                              1931-1934

Antonio Toribio                           1934-1937

On October 12, 1936, during the celebration of the towns’ fiesta in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar, Zamboanga became a chartered City under Commonwealth Act No. 39. This included the island of Basilan, thus making Zamboanga the largest city in the world with a land area of 278, 000 hectares. The first set of City Officials took their oath of office on February 26, 1937. Fifty years later, this date was resolved by the Sangguniang Panglungsod as “El Dia de la Ciudad de Zamboanga” (Resolution No. 699 dated October 15, 1986).

In 1942, the City was again reverted to a Municipality by Japanese Occupation Authorities. This status lasted until March 10, 1945. When US Liberation Forces, 41st Division US Army under major General Jens A. Doe, freed the City again and assumed its city status as chartered in 1936.

The following persons served as City Mayors under the Charter:


 Appointive                                                      Term


            Hon. Nicasio Valderozza                               1937-1939
            Hon. Pablo Lorenzo                                       1939-1940
            Hon Agustin L Alvarez                                   1940-1942
            Hon. Carlos Camins, Sr.                                1942-1945

Post war:             

Hon. Gregorio E. Ledesma*                          1945-1946
            Hon. Pantaleon Pelayo                                 1946-1947
            Hon. Vicente R. Suarez                                 1947-1949
            Hon. Manuel D, Jaldon                                  1949-1953
            Hon. Cesar C. Climaco(designated) 1953-1954
            Hon. Hector C. Suarez                                   1954-1955

Hon. Cesar C. Climaco                                  1956-1959
            Hon. Cesar C. Climaco                                  1960-1961
            Hon. Tomas F. Ferrer**                                  1961-1963


Hon. Hector C. Suarez                                   1964-1967
            Hon. Joaquin F. Enriquez2                             1967-1978
            Hon. Jose Vicente T. Atillano II3                    1978-1980
            Hon. Cesar C. Climaco (CCA)4                        1980-1984
            Hon. Manuel A. Dalipe, CCA5                         1984-1986

Vice-Mayor succeeded by operation of law

                        Hon. Julius Cesar F. Climaco                        1986-1987
                        Hon. Vitaliano D. Agan                                 1987-1992
                        Hon. Vitallano D. Agan6                                1992-Present


It is significant to note that during martial law President Marcos allowed local elections for the first time in almost 20 years (1980). Except for one KBL candidate who occupied the last breath in the council slate, the City electorate voted in the entire ticket of the newly formed opposition party, the Concerned Citizens Aggrupation (CCA)7. thus the City became known as an opposition city, not favored but not entirely deprived of nationality funded projects (via USAID) such as the Barangay Water projects, City Decelopment Assistance and Rural Roads Program, In the 1992 presidential election, Miriam D. Santiago won in the City, but the Lakas-NUCD bet Vitaliano A. Agan made it for the Mayoralty together with a minority in the Sanggunian.

Majority or 44% of the population use the local dialect-Zamboangueño or Chavacano as the means of communication, while 21% speak in Cebuano and 155 speak Tausug. Other dialects spoken were Samal, Tagalog, Yakan and others (refer to Table I-2)

            Table I-2.        Languages/Dialects Spoken in Zamboanga City, 1995










Sama (Samal)






Others (Hiligaynon, Ilongo, Subanon, etc.)





                      Source: NSO, 1995

1 Samboangan comes from the Malay word Sambuan meaning the long pole used more than the frail vintas. Some opened that the name Zamboanga could have been derived from the Malay word Jambangan, which means “a pot or place of flowers”.

*               As Municipal President during the Japanese Occupation

**             By Succession

2 Under Martial law from 1972-1978, the late JF Enriquez’ term was extended as Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Mayor

3 Under Martial law extended as Vice-Mayor and succeeded/extended by then President Ferdinand Marcos when JF Enriquez run for Batasang Pambansa

4 After his election as City Mayor in 1980, CC Climaco ran and won for the Assembly or Batasan but did not assume his seat until he was assassinated on November 14, 1984. The seat was left vacant and the City was left with no representative from the Legislature.

5 (At the height of the EDSA/Peoples’ Revolution that toppled the Marcos Regime in February 1986, Dalipe, who succeeded CC Climaco, was identified with F. Marcos and was eased out. The City Administrator, Rustico M. Varela, by consent of the City Department Heads assumed the caretakership until MLG Minister Aquino M. Pimentel finally decided between Susan N. de los Reyes and Julio Cesar F. Climaco in favor of the latter as OIC)

6 Mayor Agan was appointed OIC when Rini Climaco ran for Congress in 1987. He ran as Lakas for Mayor in 1988 a second time in 1992 as Lakas-NUCD supporting President Fidel V. Ramos in his bid for the Presidency.

7 CCA was originally composed of Liberal Part (CCC) and the Nationalista Party (Suarez) leaders until its disintegration after the 1986 elections. CCA supported Corazon C. Aquino in the 1986 elections and she won overwhelmingly in the City.







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