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Comments 10

No Te Vayas de Zamboanga

Sunset in Zamboanga © Jojie Alcantara

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place” ~ Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You

I visited Zamboanga before and after a rebel siege in the city a year ago that left a portion of the central town bruised and battered, and kept many wary visitors away and in fear. Foreign travel advisories stay adamant. I expected to focus on remnants of a combat zone, but there were other things that captivated me more.

Laughter of kids at Paseo del Mar, a beautiful boulevard along the bay. Hope in their eyes. People sitting on the park benches just to watch the sun set. In every aftermath of a tragedy I visit, I marvel at the resilience of my people, whose will to survive remains intact even after it has been deeply scarred.

Everywhere you go are posted streamers and signs that say “No Te Vayas de Zamboanga”, a plea in the Spanish language which means “Don’t go or don’t leave Zamboanga”, which comes from a popular song composed years ago by Juan Cuadrado, Sr., a Spaniard who decided to stay and marry a Zamboanguena lass after the Spanish troops left the islands.

When the crisis struck the city last year, it became a meaningful phrase to encourage visitors and even locals to come and stay in Zamboanga. Residents speak Chavacano, a simplified dialect very much influenced by Spanish. The girls above were three giggling schoolgirls who gamely posed for me when they saw me shooting the sunset. This beautiful city is slowly getting up on its feet, and I will be there to cheer it on.

Happy Hermosa Festival, Zamboanga!


  1. Alan Munong says

    Hey Ms. Jojie,

    My name is Alan a zamboanguenio, just wanna say kudus to you! wonderful photos, a classy and very inspirational article on my birth-place. We need more people like you (optimist) despite and inspite of the pressing situation in our place you still saw the lighter side of things. This is a fact of life; “nobody said that life was gonna be easy” things happen but we should stand up and move-on! (move-on with our lives atleast). There is more to Zamboanga than the bruised and battered part of our city. zamboanguenios are resilient!
    Again, thank you or shall I say “Muchicimas gracias”


  2. Alan Munong says

    Ms. Jojie,

    Yeah, please feel free to visit our place as often as you like! I’m sure with your artistic vibe you’ll see more places of interest. On my end, I can’t wait to see the pictures that you will take/post of our city (makes me feel at home). I only get to go home once a year : (

    Hey Ms. Jojie, I used to sketch/draw way back but I can’t find time for that now, I wanna try photography and I was hoping if you can advise me as to what camera should I buy/use for beginners like me.

    Your input is much appreciated, thank you.


  3. Busyqueenphils says

    I have so many fond childhood memories of Cawa-cawa Boulevard. Back then, people would go there to watch the sunset – thankful for the day and looking forward to the next. Your photo captured that “calm” and it is nostalgic for me. Thank you.

    Going back post-siege and seeing “No te vayas de Zamboanga” posters everywhere, I couldn’t help feeling sad. Nevertheless, we never lose hope that someday our beloved Zamboanga Hermosa will rise again.

    Muchisimas gracias for seeing Zamboanga’s beauty and believing in Zamboangueños’ resiliency.

    Reading this blog post made me smile whilst the pinch in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ces, I will certainly go back there again. I feel very hopeful because once upon a time in the 80s, my own beloved city was a “no man’s land”. Today, it is one of the safest and most livable cities in Asia. The journey has been painful as well. Have faith and yours will get there soon.


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