Zamboanga del Sur occupies the southern section of the Zamboanga Peninsula that forms the western part of the island of Mindanao. The province is bounded on the north by Zamboanga del Norte; on the south by the Moro Gulf; on the southwest by Zamboanga Sibugay; and on the east and northeast by Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Panguil Bay.
Zamboanga del Sur is a province that is shaped by the migration patterns of different groups of people, making it a province of total diversity. The development of the place into the province it is now was then accelerated by the arrival of other ethnic groups that brought with them their own set of traditions and culture, including their dialects. These were the Chavacanos, the Muslims from other provinces, and the Tagalogs.
The most commonly spoken language of the province is Cebuano, spoken by 72.47% of the population. Also spoken are Zamboangueño/Chavacano, Tagalog, Subanen, Ilonggo, Maguindanao, Iranun, Boholano, and Ilocano. Locals speak mostly Cebuano, but you’ll also hear a bit of English and Chabacano.
Zamboanga del Sur, like almost all of the rural provinces in the Philippines, is mostly reliant on agriculture for the bulk of its economy. It is not to say that industrialization has not reached the province but due to geographical, political and socio-economic reasons, it excels more in the fields of agriculture, mining and fishing. The major crops that Zamboanga del Sur produces are corn, palay (rice), coconuts and fruit trees. Zamboanga del Sur’s coastline covers 14 municipalities, as well as the province’s capital, Pagadian City. As such, fishing and aquatic resources are also major contributors to the economy of the province.
The province also contains vast deposits of metallic and non-metallic minerals. The mineral reserves include marble, clay, sand, gravel and gold, although these are classified to small scale industry particularly gold mining.
The province of Zamboanga del Sur was carved out from the former Zamboanga province that encompassed the entire peninsula in the southwestern Mindanao on September 17, 1952 by virtue of Republic Act 711. As the 52nd province of the Philippines, it originally consisted of 11 towns, which were later expanded into 42 municipalities and 1 city with Pagadian as its capital.
The Megayon Festival is considered as the province’s official festival. The festival is a week-long gathering held in September to celebrate the unity and cultural diversity of the early settlers that contribute to the founding of Zamboanga del Sur. Cultural dances and traditional costumes as well as arts and crafts are proudly.
For a new food experience, try the local Tausug favorites of tiula itum. This ginger-and-turmeric-infused black soup is served hot and spicy. It’s made from either beef or chicken, but the meat that gives it its dark color is burned coconut meat. More traditional palates might prefer satti – small strips of sautéed meat on a stick.
Don’t miss the Magayen Festival in September, a week-long gathering, celebrating unity in diversity and good harvest. Here you can enjoy unique cultural dances from each ethnic group, learn about their traditional costumes, or buy showcased arts and crafts.
The original inhabitants of the Zamboanga peninsula were the Subanons, who settled along the riverbanks. The next group of settlers to arrive were Muslim migrants from the neighboring provinces. The Maguindanaoans and Kalibugans were farmers; the Tausugs, Samals, and Badjaos were fishermen; and the Maranaos were traders and artisans. The Muslim settlers also looked on mat weaving as its major occupation.
Then came an exodus of migrants from nearby provinces. Historians say that majority of them came from the Visayas, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, and Siquijor. Together with the original settlers, these pioneers helped develop Zamboanga del Sur into the abundant and culturally diverse province that it is.
Today the province comprises two congressional districts with 26 municipalities and one component city. Pagadian City, its capital, with a total of 681 barangays, has been declared as the new regional seat of Region IX.