Mi Ciudad De Zamboanga

Last Sunday, while I was rummaging through my notes, I came upon this feature article I made years ago. As I read it, scenes of jubilee came into my mind and I was reminded again of that day, September 23, 2003 when my academic career took a turn for the better and college life was never the same again.

I was a junior in college then and was selected to be one of the two to represent our school for a city-wide travel feature writing contest. The competition was to be held on Sept. 23, 2003, 2:00pm at the Sunken Garden in Zamboanga City. It was to be one of the events for the annual Fiesta Pilar celebration.

My Department Head, Dr. Erlinda C. Espinosa, who later became my mentor and a very dear friend, informed me (I used the term because in the telling of the news, It was not as if I had a choice whether to join or not. She was merely informing me that she submitted my name to the dean) about a week before the contest. As I am obviously not from Zamboanga and knew very little of it's history, I was very anxious whether I am capable of the job, so I desperately searched for review materials.

But to make the long story short, I proceeded with it and came out victorious. When I told Ma'am Linda the following day what happened, you can just imagine her delight. It was as if she was the one who won. And as we were in the Faculty Room that time, she told all the teachers about it and the whole day, (I had 3 subjects that day with her - Shakespeare, English Lit. and Poetry) she couldn't stop from calling me to answer or read some lines out loud for her even if I was just quietly sitting on my place and not raising my hand.

Now, looking back at that day and reading that article, I blush. Why? Because with all the earnestness in my heart I confess that my piece does not deserve such recognition. It's not that good. Ma'am Linda didn't even ask what I wrote or how I wrote it because if she did, she would have second guessed my capability. But you know, on the other hand, there is a matter for self-congratulations at this time. My Essay teacher once told me that when you realized how mediocre your articles were in the past, it means you have grown in your craft. She's right of course. How could I have done better when I have not yet known better?

And so for growth's sake, I am thankful that I did not throw immediately that scratch paper until I had the chance to copy it. But what I have though is not the same as to what I submitted because in the rewriting to the final paper, I added and deleted some sentences.

Without further delay, I now present to you that feature article in it's entirety (wrong grammars including!). Be my judge. But I can assure you, I am much better now.

My teacher in History would often tell us how proud she is of Zamboanga. She would often relate to us the events that happened during the invasion of the Spaniards. Oh, she was indeed a proud Zamboanguena. But then I began to wonder why. What is it with Zamboanga that people of different cultures are attracted to it? What made the City of Flowers bloom amidst the others?

It need not take a long time for me to know the answers. I simply looked around- and then I knew.

Zamboanga the Beautiful. Zamboanga the Great. Zamboanga the Glorious. These and many more attribute to the intensity and the magnanimity of Zamboanga. But behind these names, we could never deny the fact that Zamboanga has a rich and beautiful past. The City of Flowers holds precious treasures in her hand that no one can ever take away.

Among the treasures she holds is the Fort Pilar – a place of peace and rest. For how many years, the Fort have been a place of refuge for weary souls. It have been a haven for the tired soldiers after a day’s work. It is a place of sanctuary where people can go and meditate upon the mighty works of God.

Another treasure the beautiful Zamboanga holds is its rich cultural diversity. Different kinds of people live in Zamboanga. There are the Tausugs, the Yakans, the Bisaya, the Badjaos and the Zamboanguenos. Each tribe has their own culture and style but each one becomes united when fighting for a cause.

Chavacano - the local dialect is one of the priceless treasures the people hold and honors. It is 70% Spanish and 30% a mixture of Bisaya, Tausug and Tagalog. The residents of Zamboanga are bilingual – they can speak fluently any of the languages. Sometimes, when I hear people talking to each other in Chabacano, I get fascinated. The language was intricately done that listening to it is like listening to music.

Another fascinating thing about Zamboanga is the City Hall. That building has also been a witness to countless meetings and debates in the past when the Spaniards and the Americans were still here. It’s halls were witnesses to brave Filipino men who fought and argued to the foreign invaders to stop their tyranny.

Zamboanga indeed holds a specific spot in everyone’s hearts because many people have already given their lives in order to protect it. A lot of people have already spent so much time and effort in keeping this city together. Many were the sweat and tears that were shed among the walls of this city.

As I was looking back on the incident about my teacher in the classroom, I suddenly realize that it need not take a long time for me to think about the answers to my questions. It is all there laid up for me. I only have to open my eyes and my mind to the wonderful treasures I have on my hands. I am a part of the whole. I am a resident of this city and therefore I am part of Zamboanga.

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