Hermosa Festival. Zamboanga City is gearing up to celebrate the Hermosa Festival 2016 for the entire month of October. As early as now, the city government has already released a schedule of activities that would surely make this years’ celebration a memorable one. The excitement builds up for the grandest and most colorful festival in Western Mindanao. Backpackers and tourists have already booked their flights a few months ahead in anticipation of the grand fiesta celebration of the Nuestra Seniora la Virgen del Pilar. With so little time and so many things to do, here are my recommendations to best enjoy the Hermosa Festival. Trust me, I’m a local. No other blog can help you have an efficient and fun filled itinerary!
Here are the activities you must not miss!
Mascota de Zamboanga/ October 8, 2016 7pm/ Paseo del Mar, Open Stage
Zamboanga was a stronghold of the Spaniards during the 300-year colonization. A lot has changed after the Spaniards left but there are also a handful of beautiful legacies that they left in Mi Ciudad de Zamboanga, one of them is the mascota. Intricately designed dresses worn by Zamboanga’s most beautiful will parade on stage in the Paseo del Mar’s open stage on the evening of October 8. Last year, local couturiers showcased bridal inspired mascota’s that are world class in quality. The competition this year will feature mascota’s inspired by the indigenous tribes in Mindanao (Yakan, Tausug, Sama Badjao, Subanen, T’boli, Tiruray, etc.), and will incorporate different fabrics in the six (6) essential parts of the mascota: (1) corpiño (chemise), (2) candongga (panuelo), (3) renggue (upper body), (4) sobre falda (tapis), (5) cola (the lower body), (6) enaguas (inner lining). With the rich and colorful culture here in Mindanao, the designs of the mascota’s will surely be a feast for the eyes.
Regatta de Zamboanga/ October 9, 2016- 7am/ RT Lim, Boulevard
In grade school textbooks, the vinta is the icon that Zamboanga is easily remembered. The vinta is a small boat that can seat two to three persons with a colorful sail used by fishermen back during the days where motorized boats were not that popular. As technology took over the fishing industry and the colorful sails are being replaced by engines, vinta’s became rare to see during ordinary days. But there’s a day of the year where the entire RT Lim Boulevard will burst with colors from hundreds of vinta’s that will participate in one grand boat race called the Regatta. Travel tip: Once the program starts at 7am, only persons with access passes for the activity are allowed to get near the race. The rest of the public can witness the race from a short distance. If you want see the vinta’s up close, try going to RT Lim boulevard an hour before the regatta and take pictures while the boatmen are preparing their vinta’s.
Parade of lights/October 9, 2016-6pm/Paseo del Mar
A new addition to the activities of Zamboanga Hermosa Festival, the Parade of Lights is a promenade of floats decorated with colorful lights. Now on its second year, the Parade of lights is participated by different sectors such as private companies, barangay local governments, and other stakeholders. The floats are inspired by the colorful culture of Zamboanga. Flowers, gigantic butterflies, colorful vinta sails, and traditional dresses, to name a few, are the inspiration of the floats.
Danza La Vida/ October 10, 2016- 7pm/ Jardin de Maria Clara, Pasonanca
Party animals cannot miss the greatest and grandest dance party of the festival—Danza La Vida. Top DJs from Manila will surely bring the house down with the latest beats. Local acts will also perform as we dance the night away. Booze will be overflowing throughout the night too.
Zamboanga Hermosa Street Dance Competition/ October 11, 2016-1pm/ Fire station to Paseo del Mar
A festival will not be complete without a street dancing competition! The Hermosa Festival Street Dancing Competition is one colorful sight to behold. Competitors from different schools and barangays honor the Nuestra Seniora la Virgen del Pilar through dancing in the beat of the drums. Prepare your eyes and cameras as the delegates dance with their intricate and elaborate costumes. Most of the choreography will portray the miracles of the Lady of the Pilar.
Smoke Out Zamboanga- Grilled Food Fiesta/ October 1-11, 2016 /RT Lim Boulevard
Zamboanga is popular for its fresh seafood, and the Smoke Out Zamboanga that runs for 11 days will surely give the foodie in you a foodgasm. Restaurants and local businessmen set up stalls at the RT Lim Boulevard to sell grilled seafood fresh off the grill. Last year, a stage was set up where local bands entertained the diners as they taste the gastronomic delights that Zamboanga has to offer.
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Here is the official calendar of actitivities for the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival 2016 from Hermosa Festval Official Facebook Page
For the safety of everyone, it is adviced that you don’t bring backpacks or wear bull caps. This is a security measure implemented during events and in other crowded places. Police officers and other guards would inspect the content of backpacks before they would allow you to go. However, it is adviced that you leave your backpacks at home or at your hotel, this would save a lot of time for you and for the men in uniform who are securing the event. I have committed the mistake of bringing my backpack to Fort Pilar during the fiesta celebration. I felt a bit awkward because my backpack would be inspected by a policeman after every few hundred meters. I felt guilty because it wasted a lot of their time which could have been spent doing other things to secure the perimeter. Let us not be an inconvenience to the people that serve us.You can bring sling bags or camera bags with you.
IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM CITY INFORMATION OFFICE (September 28, 2016)
Mayor Beng Climaco has issued another executive order in connection with the 2016 Zamboanga Hermosa Festival prohibiting the parking of motorcycles and 4-wheeled vehicles as well as the bringing of backpacks, wearing bull caps and hooded jackets in certain areas where festivities will be conducted from Oct. 1-12. Climaco said the month-long festivity is expected to draw huge crowd people to include foreign and domestic visitors. To demonstrate the city’s strong desire in implementing security measures to protect the City and its people from lawless threats and violence, Mayor Climaco said there is a “pressing need to adopt stringent security measures through the issuance of rules and regulations during the observance of the Fiesta Pilar celebration. In her Executive Order BC212-2016, Climaco ordered no parking of motorcycles and 4-wheeled vehicles, no bringing of backpacks, no wearing of bull caps and hooded jackets in certain streets of the city where activities will be held.
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