Fear Not Zamboanga City

June 26-28, 2014

Day 0/ June 25

The Shake

On June 25th, Maam Delia and I were preparing the three boxes that I’m bringing in Zamboanga City. We took some rest, bought some food. I was sitting and eating my cup of noodles. Suddenly, I felt something which I thought strong muscle twitching and just due to stress. But, I was wrong. It was an earthquake. It lasted for 30 seconds if I calculated it correctly. That was my first encounter and I don’t want a second time.

Day 1/ June 26

NOW SHOWING: ‘Iiscreen Kita Mula Ulo Hanggang Paa’

I slept in Dr. Llave’s house. I made sure that what happened in my first flight in February 2014 in Catarman, Northern Samar wouldn’t happen again. I took a bath and wore my clothes already before going to bed.

Maam Norjamin/Norj welcomed us in the airport, and then we checked in and had our breakfast at Garden Orchid Hotel. After an hour, we started our trip going to ZamboEcoZone which is 45-minute away from the city proper (pueblo).

ZamboEcoZone invited The Cancer Institute Foundation to provide a whole-body screening for its employees. The first day was an orientation to the employees and the health care providers who will participate on the screening the next day.

I couldn’t forget the punch lines of Dr. Cecilia Llave, and it was really bought. She said with the right emotions to one male participant, “Iiscreen kita mula ulo hanggang paa. Bukas akin ka.” All of us really laughed out loud. If I could also share the other one, but I can’t because it’s meant to be said and not to be written. One admin commented saying, “Thank you doktora for that horny orientation.” Dr. Llave corrected saying, ”No, sexy lang.”

Marang---Parang Durian

After that, we were invited by Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar to meet her in Zamboanga Golf Course. I got to know ‘marang’. It’s a fruit which looks like durian just minus the foul smell. Normally, I don’t eat or even taste food which I really don’t know, but I realized that I should be open. I should remove the wall of fear which is hindering me to live my life like a YOLO. I tried marang, it was good. I even took home the seeds and will give to my father for him to plant in on our backyard.

Clothes, Where are you?

I didn’t realize that I left the bag which had my clothes in ZamboEcoZone. Good news, there’s a souvenir shop in the hotel.

Day 2/ June 27

FYI: Single Visit Approach- VIAC--- Minute to Know It

I was assigned with Dr. Llave in a male clinic, and at the same doing some errands when someone calls me for something important like connecting the CO2 tank to the cryotherapy machine. Hmmm epistaxis. Let me elucidate further. Cryotherapy is a preventive treatment for pre-cancerous lesions in the cervix of a female. ‘Cryo’ means ice, so this treatment freezes the part of cervix which has lesion. The CO2 gas is used to form an ice ball that will cover the affected part. This treatment is part of what we call Single Visit Approach (SVA) program we’re advocating. SVA just means that when a woman comes into a health facility, we will screen her from head down to the toe with emphasis on breast and the reproductive organs. In SVA there is what we call Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA). This is an alternative to Pap Smear in screening cervical problems. What do we do? We soak a cotton pledget in a 3-5% vinegar and let it stay on the cervix for 1 minute. If we see a distinct white lesion in your cervix after a minute, the woman will undergo cryotherapy after 2nd VIA validated its presence. That white lesion is a pre-cancerous one, so before it mutate into cancerous cells we have to prevent it using cryotherapy. However, if the woman is suspected for cervical cancer, she is not eligible for cryo.

Eat Zamboanga. Eat

After the tiring clinic day, ZamboEcoZone treated us in the famous Alavar Seafood House. Of course, I was given the opportunity to taste Zamboanga, who am I to waste it? I tried Zamboanga white (simple creamy shake), 1/4 curacha (which I think made by BP high because my ears became hot and my nape ached, so be cautious guys), green mango with salted egg (uuggh heaven I really loved it), and the lapu-lapu was so delicious (the tastiest so far) and the Alavar seafood rice was also an A for me.

Another treat was a massage. The hotel’s shower is like a massage as well. It’s pressure is so high. Muchisimas gracias po.

Day 3/ June 27

My ‘Poopoo’ Day

This is the day! My ‘lamyerda’ day. Ooops, Maam Norj informed me that the real meaning of ‘lamyerda’ is eliminating your body waste. So it’s lamyerda time! Woohooo

My original plan was to go out solo because I really want to explore Zamboanga just like a local and I don’t want to disturb others, but Maam Norj offered herself to accompany me which I really do appreciate. She brought her adventurous teenager son and Kuya Val who became are driver/ comedian/ tour guide.

I’m Not ‘Eustaquio’

I was surprised when I learned that one of the richest and most famous names in Zamboanga happened to be of same surname with mine, but I really don’t have any link with them. I don’t know them, they don’t know me. But I was also glad to know that there are Eustaquio’s in Zamboanga because for me my last name is a rare one. We are only few. I hope I made this clear with the bandits. You can’t get anything from me, okay? Haha.

No Vinta

I have fear of water because I don’t know how to swim, but I’m really excited to see sea. In Bulacan where I grew up, we only have mountains and rivers. That’s where my excitement comes from.

Unfortunately, there was no any vinta sailing. But, there was a vinta on land (without the boat) so I took the opportunity to take a photo with it. Hope anytime soon, I will be able to ride one. Let me wear a life vest please.

I will cross you Sta. Cruz Island one day

I was not able to see the pink sand of the Sta. Cruz Island. Hope that there will be a bridge for easy access because I think that place is a good tourist spot in ZC. That will surely create lots of job for the locals.

Yakan Village

What I see was a total opposite of I imagined. My imagination: huge entrance arch with ‘YAKAN VILLAGE’ on it, stalls of yakan products, a weaving show. Reality: it’s really a simple community. There are houses, and the people who live there make weaving their livelihood. I asked one if I could take a video of her while weaving, and she said yes. To support their mean of living, I encourage you to buy the local weave products. There are Malaysian products which are cheaper, but theirs are more beautiful and elegant.

I Don’t Like Strawberry

If I let myself to believe in that I wouldn’t be able to taste Zamboanga’s famous dessert ‘Knickerbucker.’ It has strawberry ice cream. But, that ice cream flavor complements the fresh fruits and the colorful ‘gulaman’ in it.

‘Four House’

We went to Pasonanca Park. One famous spot is the ‘tree house.’ Kuya Val,our driver, joked, “Kapag nadagdagan iyan ng isa (pertaining to the tree house), four house na tawag diyan. Hindi na ‘three house’.” We all laughed. Shallow? Yes, we are.

My Dream in 4th HS Became a Reality 

Before graduating in HS, I dreamed of a very steep mountain which I was able to climb successfully. In Zamboanga, we visited the ‘Krus Mayor.’ This was my favorite. To go there, you need to travel up the boondocks. That was so steep (just the same in my dream), it’s almost vertical. 80 degree angle perhaps. Krus Mayor is a very huge white cross situated on top of a mountain. When you’re there you can see the whole city and the two Sta. Cruz islands. This place is famous because the Roman Catholics go here every Holy Week because of the Stations of the Cross.

After this, we went to another mountain, higher than the Krus Mayor. There’s a dilapidated nipa hut. You can also see the whole ZC.


On September 9, 2013, the whole Philippines was shocked when a siege broke out in ZC. That situation sparked the anger in every Filipino. Personally, I expressed my anger through a poem. I entitled it ‘ZamBUANGa.’ ‘Buang’ or ‘Buwang’ means crazy. I wrote that this MNLF is crazy. Innocent lives were wasted for what?

Nine months after the siege, I was able to visit Sta. Catalina, the exact place where it happened. I was glad that the people are slowly getting their life back. I saw 2-3 sari-sari stores and children roaming around the place. I saw the building where the MNLF members hid. I’m glad to see that people are re-building it again. I’m hoping that sooner or later, they will recover from the effect of the siege.

The question now, after MNLF initiated that senseless expression of belief, what are this MNLF going to do to help their fellow Filipinos recover from what they did? I want to believe that these MNLF leaders and members have good spot in their heart. I hope to see the day that MNLF will go out holding not guns but sacks loaded with food and hearts filled with lots of love for their fellowmen.

Zamboanga City is a beautiful place. Let others see it.

Asia’s Latin City

Indeed, ZC is Asia’s Latin City. It has Fort Pilar which was erected during the Spanish time, the city hall which was designed with Spanish style, the 1928 house/building, the language (Chavacano).

Canelar Barter

I bought Malaysian chocolates and noodles, wallets, a fan which can be transformed into a hat and a ref magnet. Maam Norj bought two shawls, an organizer and a t-shirt with this print ‘I Survived Zamboanga Crisis.’


As of today, the effect of siege is really felt. The fear is still there. Locals always warn you. However, ironically, Zamboanga City brought not fear in my heart but braveness.

I have lots of I don’ts and can’ts. I don’t eat, I can’t swim, I don’t like. But this journey made me an open person. It taught me to be brave enough to try…to experience. I thank God for letting me visit a place that many are afraid to go. Hasta La Vista Zamboanga City.

written by: loveluytakyo
July 9, 2014


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