We’re fine as is PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 12:54



Pasadena, CA. — I have christened Zamboanga as the Sunset City of the Philippines. It used to be the city of flowers until the City Council legislated to make her Asia’s Latin City. It is, indeed, the Sunset City. Locals and tourists marvel at the yellow-orange setting sun. The magical view is never invisible to visitors who pass through R.T. Lim Boulevard to get to either downtown or the airport.

As in other boulevards, and there aren’t too many, Cawa-Cawa isn’t as jovial in the evenings as we see in others. Yes, vendors still peddle “balut”, fish balls and tempura tastefully mixed from Jorge Yeo’s bricked kitchen in Tetuan, pork and chicken barbecue, “penoy”, and boiled eggs. But there are no booze joints, taverns or clubs or restaurants at the other side of the boulevard, unlike in the past when Jun and family operated Alavar’s Restaurant. Cawa-Cawa beach has long been declared, by a City Council ordinance, harmful to beachers.

But the vendors are struggling to make a living now, because the city government has disallowed them from plying their trade at the boulevard, and instead relegating to them to an area away from the promenadors, daters and old classes wanting to breath fresh air and feel the sea breeze kiss their faces. The most part of the beach now serve as mooring area for small fishing boats and vintas and, as in Boracay, catch basin of discharges from a hospital, schools and homes.  Really, Cawa-Cawa beach should be closed to bathers as Councilor Bert Villares’s ordinance of long ago mandates.

Those living two kilometers from Cawa-Cawa towards the northwest have learned to tune out the roar of Airbuses, C-130s, fighter planes and helicopters taking off from the airport. The late Cesar C. Climaco had wanted the airport transferred to Mercedes or Masinlok Point in Arena Blanco.

But I guess we’re fine as is. With huge shopping malls rising in four years, the historic Guardian Nacional shall be simply another Escolta St. or Cariedo in Quiapo, Manila. We are all looking forward to welcoming the malls, the venture capitalists, taxi service, and more fine-dining restaurants. There are no stores or restaurants that define Zamboanga except O.K. Bazar and Alavar’s. At least, for now.

The 50s and 60s, Zamboanga was “segundo a nada” (second to none). We were dubbed as the city of flowers because of champacas (now being squeezed into perfume), sampaguitas, Ilang-ilang, roses, orchids, and bougainvilleas. We were adjudged as the cleanest city in the country. In Calarian, towards the beach, the favorite nocturnal hangout of young boys and teenage girls seeking cheap thrills, were trees blinking with mystical fireflies.

This is now an era of growth and change. We are earning the reputation as a progressing metropolis where investment is rising and nagging issues as traffic congestion, poor sewerage and bad flood control system are being seriously addressed by our political leaders - Salazar, Lobregat, Dalipe. It’s a good thing that they are fighting for performance ratings. They always say that if you want to experience hospitality, go to Zamboanga. Durian is Jolo’s, not Davao’s. Marang is ours, not Davao’s. All the exotic fruits and food are ours, not theirs. The finest women are found in Zamboanga.

In the 90s and early 2000s, the Lobregats bought lands where homes for the poorest among the poor would be built. Now, Mayor Climaco-Salazar is building the houses for the displaced families with the help of a government housing agency. Most of these families are migrants. The mayor is trying to catch up with the number of people falling into homelessness.

It will also be good for the mayor to set up shelters to serve as home stops whenever a disaster occurs, like floods, conflagration, etc. if these “specially” displaced people register as voters, the mayor becomes invincible. As in California, “Homelessness isn’t an issue. Homelessness is the issue.”