Plaza del Pilar showcases Zambo’s rich history, culture PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 22 November 2010 13:19

After fulfilling their religious obligations at the Fort Pilar, residents and visitors make it a point to visit the newest hangout in town—the Plaza del Pilar, located just across the shrine.
Plaza del Pilar derived its name from the historical Fort Pilar, being the immediate significant landmark where the more than 7,000 square meters plaza is located.  It complements the 300-year-old renowned fort, which houses the Shrine of the Lady of the Pillar and the National Museum, and Paseo del Mar–demonstrating once again the city’s rich history and culture as well as the commitment of the Lobregat administration to preserve Zamboanga’s heritage and promote tourism.  Its European-inspired architectural design makes it Zamboanga’s newest architectural gem.
Adding to its historical appeal is its location as Plaza del Pilar stands on part of Pettit Barracks, the former encampment of the United States after the capture of the city on November 15, 1899.
The grand unveiling of Plaza del Pilar on October 10 was graced by Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim.
Pasalubong Center
The plaza is Zamboanga’s first-ever all-in-one pasalubong center where locals and visitors alike can buy souvenir items, eat out or simply pass time.
Blocks A and B are devoted to souvenir items that include handicrafts, Yakan woven clothes, leather products, pearls and precious stones, barter goods, cakes and pastries, dried fish, biscocho or toasted bread and sardines.  Meanwhile, Block C offers a good mixture of shirts, bags and fashion accessories as well as native products from Baguio and Bicol.
Thoughts for Foods
Plaza del Pilar also makes an interesting haven for food enthusiasts of all ages in acknowledgement of the Zamboangueños’ love for food.  Those with a penchant for Middle-Eastern food may feast on shawarmas, a sandwich-like wrap of shaved beef, while others can choose from a carte du jour consisting of warm arroz caldo and beef soup, hotdogs on stick, tempura, as well as barbequed chicken, fish belly and panga (jaw), among others.
Block C also features food stalls where one can enjoy refreshments such as doughnuts, otap, fruit shakes and the likes.
Furthermore, “take-out” or “to-go” stalls allow costumers to buy coffee, biscuits, ice scramble, fries and flavored juices to be consumed while they wander around the plaza and adjacent areas.
Candle Vendors
Located just across the street from the Fort Pilar Shrine, several stalls sell candles and other devotional items to the hundreds of devotees who regularly flock the shrine to pay their respects to the city’s patroness.
The candle trade is considered the oldest form of commerce as attested by Pinang’s which supposedly dates back to when the Japanese occupied the city.  Pinang’s is now managed by the grandchildren of its founder.
Aside from candles, these stalls also offer other devotional items such as rosaries, crucifixes, prayer pamphlets, and religious images.
Arts and Law
Aside from ready-to-wear items and refreshments, Block C likewise includes a display area where artworks would be showcased.
Plaza del Pilar’s proximity to the Hall of Justice makes it ideal for law offices.  In fact, two law offices have already put up their headquarters there.
Connection to Zaragozza
Interestingly, Plaza del Pilar is another thing that Zamboanga shares with its sister-city, Zaragozza, Spain.  The Spanish city’s Plaza del Pilar is a square which include, among others, the Basilica of the Lady of the Pilar, the Catedral de Salvador de Zaragoza, Lonja de Zaragoza (the city’s civil building), City Hall, Francisco de Goya monument, and the Fuente de la Hispanidad.
While our local version of the plaza is located along the same street as the City Hall and Fort Pilar, Zamboanga’s Plaza del Pilar is independent of the said landmarks. -- City Hall PIO