By Luz Malonzo 


 ”Certain it is that ballads have been written about Zamboanga City, and songs have been sung of it,” writes David Potter in “Sailing the Sulu Sea:”

Songs and music constitute the most developed phase in the cultural life of the Zamboangueño. They have been known far and wide, and sung through memory by everyone in Zamboanga.

One of the most popular of these songs is No Te Vayas de Zamboanga. This was composed by Juan Cuadrado, Sr., a Spaniard who decided to stay in Zamboanga after the Spanish troops left the country. He later married a Zamboangueña with whom he bore several children. According to the old-timers of the city, this song was composed among the taverns which Cuadrado used to frequent. There was no real intention to write the song, for Cuadrado was not a musician. But when the heart was full, then it was only music that could express its real feelings. The song was popularized when a Colonel Loving placed it down in music. The words of the songs goes this way.


No te vayas, no te vayas de Zamboanga
Que me puedes, que me puedes olvidar
No te vayas, no te vayas, ni me dejes
Que yo sin ti, no puedo estar

No llores, paloma mia
No llores que volvere
No llores que en cuando llegue
Paloma mia, te escribire

English versión (translated, unfortunately, in the reverse, ACN)
Don’t you go, don’t you go to far Zamboanga
Where you may forget your darling far away
Don’t you, oh don’t you, for if you leave me
How can I, without you stay?

Oh weep not, my dear Paloma
Oh weep not, for I’ll return

Oh weep not my little darling
I shall remember and I shall yearn.



Another popular song is Zamboanga Hermosa which praises the beauty of the women of Zamboanga. The song originated in the pre-war era, but it was only during the later part of the 1930’s when it was made popular by Matias Ranillo, Sr.,(a Dipolognon) Governor of Zamboanga Province. Later, a Cebuano Vod-a-vil show director, Borromeo Lou, popularized it. A Zamboangue
ño  well-known local write and poet in Spanish who wrote the lyrics was Vicente Orendain. The following are the lyrics of Zamboanga Hermosa


Zamboanga Hermosa, preciosa perlita
Orgullo de Mindanao
Tus bellas dalagas son las que hermosean
Tu deliciosa ciudad

Flores y amores que adornan tu jardin
Eres la imagen del bello eden;

Zamboanga hermosa, preciosa perlita
Orgullo de Mindanao

A much earlier song, composed during the Spanish regime is
Leal y Valiente Villa de Zamboanga.

The songs of Zamboanga are not limited to Spanish songs. There are also native songs of the Tausugs, Subanon, Badjaos, Samals and Yakans. Most of these songs reflect their way of life, religion, customs and traditions.

The following song is a popular Tausug song entitled Ligaya. It tells about the love of a Moslem youth to Ligaya, a Zamboangueňa. However, due to his religion, marriage between them was not possible for Ligaya was a Christian. So he laments over the impossibility of marriage between them, resorting to hanging himself with the handkerchief at the well which his sweetheart left.


Zamboanga ini haupu
Budjang in nakahipu
Dalling, dalling, hani
Asal ko sugusku
In malingkoy kaka

Ka panaw dayang subu-subu
Ha tubing nag sahbu
Dalling, dalling, hani
Bangkaw biya maka subu
In banghad ko hangibu

Panyu-panyu dayang biyaning
Siya sablay ha ringding
Dalling, dalling, hani
Tumaka mo liyanding
Naagaw sinduga-ing

Paanyu-panya dayang kasamba
Iya anud ha suba
Dalling, dalling, hani
Si kasi ko kan ka-ka



Zamboanga is small
But full of beautiful girls
My love, my love, honey
I have already chosen
The beautiful one is mine.

While strolling at dawn
I met her at the well

If you’ll ask me
My love
My dowry is one

A yellow handkerchief