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
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.
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 Samboangan,
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.
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.
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
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:
Gregorio E. Ledesma
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:
Agustin L Alvarez
Carlos Camins, Sr.
Hon. Gregorio E.
Hon. Vicente R.
Hon. Manuel D,
Hon. Cesar C.
Hon. Hector C.
Hon. Cesar C.
Hon. Cesar C.
Hon. Tomas F.
Hon. Hector C.
Hon. Joaquin F.
Hon. Jose Vicente
T. Atillano II 1978-1980
Hon. Cesar C.
Hon. Manuel A.
by operation of law
Hon. Julius Cesar F.
Hon. Vitaliano D. Agan
Hon. Vitallano D. Agan
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).
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)
I-2. Languages/Dialects Spoken in Zamboanga
Ilongo, Subanon, etc.)
Source: NSO, 1995