The Hunt for Vinta at Zamboanga

Since I was a kid, I do recall one of my fascinations is to see a vinta. Perhaps its colorful sail got embedded into some corner of my memory, thus when I had the chance to plan for my 2011 vacation, I decided to include Zamboanga as my travel destination. This travel is actually in celebration of our first year church wedding anniversary. We could have brought along our two kids but we decided to travel without them.

We left Manila early morning and arrived in Zamboanga around 6:00 AM. This is our first time here. We came with no transportation arrangement nor booked hotel accommodation. Starved for breakfast after our land travel from Antipolo to the Airport in Manila, we hailed a tricycle driver and asked to bring us to any open food establishment. We were brought to Chowking at Gov. Cummins Road and charged us P60 albeit a short distance ride. (By the way, there are no taxis available in Zamboanga and the tricycles are utilized instead. Curiously the tricycle ride, depending on how how ‘needy’ the driver is, would cost you from P40 to P60. PUJs are also available but since we are still unfamiliar with the place and we still do not know where to go, we just settled for the tricylce.)

At Chowking, with their free WiFi, we consulted Google Earth to determine our location and plan our next move. After eating breakfast we hailed another tricycle, but was not able to get a cheaper fare – apparently there is a standard rate for tourists – then proceeded to Grand Astoria Hotel. Unfortunately the hotel is fully booked. We simply settled with the adjacent Perlita Hotel. We got a suite room that costs P1,200. Perhaps it is the mini ref in the room that made it a ‘suite room’. The room is poorly maintained, we were not even given soap. The advantage however is that we are located in the city. We decided to take it, we will only use the room for sleeping anyway for one night, as it is our plan to transfer to Lantaka Hotel the next day.

Not wanting to waste time, we began roaming the city by foot and found ourselves at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. After saying some prayers we left and decided to have a light snack at Mc Donald’s in front of the cathedral before we proceed to Pasonanca Park through the PUVs available, and after about half an hour ride we reached the park. Pasonanca Park has swimming pools, boy scout camp site, a ‘tree house’, bird aviary, botanical garden, butterfly aviary, and is also the location of Universidad de Zamboanga branch.

After spending time observing the boy scouts make their tents (incidentally camping activity is taking place), take some pictures at the tree house (to which the park administrator is very kind to show us around and even voluntered to take pictures for us), leisurely walk at the birds aviary, take some more picture at the botanical garden and butterfly aviary, we decided to return to the city.

We ate our late lunch at Chowking, and with time still available, we went to Barter – which is a flea market with lots of goodies from chocolates to mung-bean noodles to souvenir items. This time as we get more familiar with the place, we were able to confidently ride a PUV. We bought shirts and other souvenir items. After getting tired, we decided to retire to the hotel and have a little sleep.

Evening time like most commercial districts, business establishments are closed. We decided to have our dinner at Paseo del Mar (and eventually inquired at Lantaka Hotel for room availability, which is also within the area. Fortunately there are available rooms). We tried Alavar‘s mixed seafood platter and were satisfied until we went back to the hotel to call it a day.

Vinta displayed at the lobby of Lantaka Hotel

DAY TWO: In the morning we had our breakfast again at Mc Donald’s infront of the cathedral. We leisurely walked for few minutes and reached the Ateneo de Zamboanga. At the gate, we asked the security guard on duty if we can go inside to take some pictures but were informed it is not allowed. We asked instead if they can let us in, when asked for purpose, we mentioned that we just want to do some research at the library about Zamboanga City. Convinced, the guard gave us a slip (to be signed at the library) and cleared us in, after asking us to deposit an ID. We bought some Atenero shirts, roam a bit, then went to the library for the signature, and headed back to the hotel. We have to check out and transfer to Lantaka Hotel. The room we got costs P1,870 (roadside). The hotel got a very nice ambiance particularly the pool area and the mini cottages facing the sea overlooking Zamboanga Pier and Paseo del Mar.

After recharging our energy, we went back to the city and tried to find the PUV route going to the Yakan Village (which is actually souvenir shops). The place is not that well-known, the PUV driver we are on eventually missed it. It took him another good 15 minutes before he finally decided to stop to ask people on the street where it is located. He apologized to us and let us stay at his PUV until his return trip to pass the place again on the same route back. We have no problem at all, on the contrary we enjoyed the extra ride. I found a nice replica of a vinta there and readily bought it for P1,200 (after a little haggling of course). There are other good finds that I am drooling at including authentic ‘kris’, bolos and swords. It can not risk having these blades get confiscated at the airport though.

We headed back to the hotel, ate lunch, have a video chat with the kids back home, took a nap at the cottage by the sea. After having a relaxing short nap, we continued our sight seeing starting at Plaza Pershing, then at the Zamboanga Museum and Fort Pilar. At the museum, I found a genuine vinta (at least it looks old and genuine to me). Yet I am not sure, perhaps it is only a replica as I find it smaller than what I imagine a real vinta would look like.

Late afternoon, we planned our trip to the “Pink Beach” located at Sta. Cruz Island. We found out however that we need to secure a permit from the Department of Tourism to allow the boatman to bring us there. The problem is, it is a Saturday and the DoT office is closed until Monday. Yet, we were resourceful enough to log-in our request and secure a clearance from the Zamboanga Police Head Quarters operations unit.

In the evening, we met Yollyne (and Ronald, a former colleague) at Paseo del Mar. Yollyne joined us for dinner and accompanied us to Our Lady of the Pillar which is also within the area. Thereafter we had our chat and dinner. The plaza is so alive and full (with bands and music), we just settled with a not-so-full restaurant.

We headed back to Lantaka Hotel and informed the front desk that we will travel to Sta. Cruz Island in the morning the following day – thereby the big possibility of a late check out – to which they graciously acknowledged. We found out that late check out is indeed allowed up to maximum of three hours without extra charge. We also asked the hotel to prepare three packed meals (lunch for two for us and one for our military escort).

Vinta at Zamboanga Museum

DAY THREE: Early morning we prepared for our travel to the Island. Right after breakfast at the hotel, we headed to the wharf at Paseo del Mar. The boat ride costs P1,000 round trip for up to maximum 10 passengers. Since we have no other passengers to share the trip, we paid the full fare with only me and my wife (plus the military escort) as passengers.

Sta. Cruz Island’s “Pink Beach” is not really that impressive. The shoreline is steep with only about 3 meters safe for those who do not know how to swim. The wind and the waves are also blowing away from the island that makes it even more dangerous. I also noticed dead corals scattered all over the beach that I can not help but imagine that this is a product of dynamite fishing or something like that. Nonetheless the island has its good tourism potentials.

I found another vinta replica (P200) being sold at the island, that we bought for our son Rinojo.

Vinta replica sold at Sta. Cruz Island

After spending the morning at the beach, we ate lunch, changed our clothes then headed back to the hotel to catch our early afternoon flight back to Manila.

PS: I never had a chance to see a real sailing vinta. Maybe what I saw at the museum is its fossil. lol.

Replica of the vinta bought at Yakan Village, now at my office :)

I hope I can visit the place again one day sometimes.


About swrphome

Sophie's World, Rinojo's Playground. Almost crazy. Usually sane. Occasionally busy. Always lazy.

Posted on 3 September 2011, in Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Nice blog post. We’ll be visiting Zamboanga on July 2012, and your personal experience is a good reference. Perhaps we’ll skip the Sta. Cruz pink beach, and go to Merloquet Falls instead, if my 2 kids can handle the long hikes.

    • We were not able to visit Merloquet Falls, also because we have very limited time (but actually we are not aware the existence of such). Sayang ;)

    • Hi Noel! Just a personal note… if you have lots of time and a nature-lover, you may visit Merloquet Falls (about two-hour ride from city proper then 30-45 minutes hike before you reach the site). Otherwise, you may visit other nice locations in the City.

  2. i enjoyed reading your post. too bad you weren’t able to see a vinta. there are lots actually if you visited R.T. Lim Boulevard although I’m not sure if you can chance upon a vinta with a colorful “layag” during that time.

    if you have plans of coming back here ( i’m residing here although i’m from Basilan), do so during Fiesta Pilar ( Oct. 12 ) because the City Government has lots of activities organized. Definitely, you can see lots of colorful vintas in Regatta Festival. :)

  3. Thanks for your kind words. I was actually thinking of setting my foot in Basilan, but my wife does not entertain the idea, perhaps due to what they are reading on the papers. As a matter of fact, she also prefers to visit other place and not Zamboanga, though I insisted.

    And she has no regrets visiting Zamboanga. We enjoyed our stay there, and If I will have another chance, I would want to visit Zamboanga again (including Basilan this time) especially on the dates you suggested.


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