PROFILE OF REGION 9
Region 9, also known as the Zamboanga Peninsula Region lies at the Southernmost portion of the Philippine archipelago. Located at the western tip of the island of Mindanao, Zamboanga Peninsula is strategically situated in close proximity to Sabah, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia. Thus, its appellation as the Philippines’ gateway to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA.
Composition and Land Area
Region 9 occupies a land area of 17,046.64 sq. km and is composed of three provinces – Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga del Sur; and five cities – Dapitan, Dipolog, Pagadian, Zamboanga, and Isabela. It has 8 congressional districts and 67 municipalities.
Zamboanga City is the industrial and commercial center of the region while Pagadian City is now the acknowledged regional center following the transfer of most government regional offices there from Zamboanga City. The region prides itself as one of the centers of trade and commerce in Mindanao.
Region 9’s population as of 2010 stood at 3,407,353 with an average annual population growth rate of 1.87%. Zamboanga del Sur has the largest population with 959, 685 persons, followed by Zamboanga del Norte with 957,997 persons, Zamboanga City with 807,129, Zamboanga Sibugay with 584,685, and City of Isabela with 97,857.
Region 9 has a relatively young population, the bulk of whom are 15 years old and below. Men also slightly outnumber women.
About a third of the region’s population is composed of ethnic people. These groups, usually erroneously classified under the general heading of “Muslims”, are actually culturally distinct from each other. They are generally divided into the Tausugs, Yakans, Badjaos, Samals, and the Subanens of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.
The first settlers of Zamboanga Peninsula are the Subanens (People of the River), occupying it long before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Filipino, English and Chinese are the predominant languages spoken in the region. Visayan-Cebuano, spoken by about two-thirds of the population is the predominant dialect. Chavacano on the other hand is the main dialect spoken in the City of Zamboanga.
Roman Catholicism is the major religion practiced in the region. The other major religions are Islam, and Born-Again Christianity.
Climate and Topography
The region’s topography is relatively rugged. Roughly 51% of its area are hilly; some having steeped slopes and within the elevation range of 100 to more than 1,000 meters above sea level. In terms of land classification, about 51 per cent is considered alienable and disposable and the remaining 49 per cent is classified as forest land. Almost 60,000 hectares of land that can be developed for planting crops still remain idle, while around 310,000 hectares of coconut land can be utilized for multi-cropping and pasture purposes.
The region’s climate is generally classified as type 3 and 4. It has no pronounced rainy seasons, but has relatively dry season from December to May. There is a relatively uniform rainfall distribution throughout the year. The annual average rainfall is 2,372 millimeters which is highly suitable for agricultural production.
Zamboanga Peninsula’s economy is basically rooted in agriculture with farming and fishing as the main economic activities of families.
As measured by the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP), the region’s economy in 2008 stood at PhP 35.806 billion (at constant 1985 prices), growing at an average of 2.2% for the period 2007-2008.
By industrial origin, the Agriculture/Fishery/Forestry Sector contributes about 50% of the GRDP, followed by the Services Sector at 35%. The Industry Sector meanwhile, contributes the remaining 15% of the regional economy.
The industry sector of Region 9 is characterized by a proliferation of micro, small and medium-scale companies. Most manufacturing activities are based in the cities of Zamboanga, Dipolog, and Pagadian.
The region has vast forest resources. Logs, lumber, veneer and plywood are once among its major export products. It is also richly endowed with mineral deposits both metallic and non-metallic. Metallic reserves include gold, silver, copper, chromite, iron, lead, and manganese ore. The non-metallic minerals consist of coal, clay, asbestos, limestone, quartz, silica, phosphate rock and marble.
Situated outside the typhoon belt and surrounded by five of the Philippines’ richest fishing grounds, the region enjoys several distinct advantages:
It is the no. 1 commercial marine fish producing region in the country, contributing 16.48% of the national fish production and 37% of Mindanao’s total production (BAS 2004 data). The whole industry employs approximately 35,000 workers not counting those employed in the allied industries such as shipping, stevedoring, cold storage, etc. It has also extensive areas developed as aqua farms for brackish water and freshwater fishes.
It supplies 70% of the Philippine domestic requirements for dried fish. There are to date a total of 104 big dried fish processors in the region.
It supplies 75% of the country’s total domestic requirements for canned sardines. Hence, its appellation as the Sardines Capital of the Philippines. To date, there are eight major canning factories based in Zamboanga City.
Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte, meanwhile, is renowned for pioneering the production of in-glass or bottled sardines in the country. With concerted support from DTI, DOST, DOLE, TESDA and other government agencies, this budding industry has rapidly grown over the years and is now making inroads into the export market. As of last count, there are now 34 bottled sardines processors based in the region.
Region 9 ranks third in terms of seaweeds production contributing roughly 12% of the total national output. It produces and exports dried seaweeds and semi-refined and refined carageenan. Carageenan, derived from seaweeds is a major ingredient in the cosmetics and food processing industries.
Coconut is one other crop extensively grown in the region. Coco-based products such as coco-oil, pellets and others remain the region’s biggest traditional export. It is also a major producer of VCO and edible oil for the domestic market. In 2006, 363,530 hectares of coconut farms produced 1,723,659 metric tons of harvest.
Zamboanga Peninsula is Mindanao’s second biggest producer of mango next to Southern Mindanao. In 2006, 16,091 hectares were planted to mango in the region producing 53,932 metric tons of harvest.
Its huge deposits of precious minerals include gold, silver, copper, chromite, iron, lead, manganese, coal, clay, asbestos, limestone, quartz, silica, phosphate rock and marble.
It is home to ZAMBOECOZONE, the only economic zone and freeport in all Visayas and Mindanao. On top of generous incentives granted to investors and locators, ZAMBOECOZONE also guarantees free flow, entry and movement of machineries and other good tax free within its jurisdiction.
It has state of the art banking and communications facilities; modern educational and healthcare services; world class hotel and convention centers; abundant water; and stable power supply.
Nature also endowed it with so much natural attractions such as white sand beaches, spectacular waterfalls, dive spots, caves for spelunking, marine sanctuaries and awesome coral formations, among others.
Above all, much of Zamboanga Peninsula’s strength lies on its people – hospitable, warm and proud of their rich cultural heritage. Its workforce – highly educated, skilled and multi-lingual.
Isabela City in the province of Basilan was named after a former Queen of Spain. Once the premier municipality of Basilan, her status changed on March 5, 2001 when Republic Act No. 9023 “An Act Converting the Municipality of Isabela, Province of Basilan into a component city to be known as the City of Isabela” was signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. On April 25, 2001 Isabeleños ratified the new status of Isabela.
Sailing into the channel that leads to Isabela gives the visitor the first glimpse of the beauty of the city. Mangrove areas giving way to houses on stilts on the waters itself, the sight of an old mosque at Kaun Purna, sailboats in the distance silhouetted against the morning or afternoon sun – all combine to give a preview of what is come.
Isabela’s Malamawi Island is truly spectacular for its beach, sunsets, and the wild ducks that give the place a special flavor of its own. Sumagdang Beach on the mainland has its own charms. And the rubber plantations with row upon row of trees providing a canopy of green over the land are a pleasure to behold.
The wealth of the sea can be seen at the Isabela public market where. Exotic species of food fish can be had at the fraction of the process they command in some other places. Isabela is an island city worth visiting, along with Yakan natives whose woven cloth has made a name in the world.
City of Flowers, Asia’s Latin City, Preciosa Perlita Orgullo de Mindanao, These are Zamboanga of the many names in legend and song. Beaches, mountains, gardens, culture, people – all are part of Zamboanga’s beautiful face to the world. Named by early Malay settlers as Jambangan for the flowers that bloomed in profusion, Zamboanga’s history is rich and the envy of many. As early as the 13th and 14th centuries, she was already a known trading center for the Malay, Chinese and natives.
Spain came to her shores in 1593 and on June 24 1635, the most enduring landmark of Spanish heritage was built –Fort Pilar. Today, it still stands as a shrine to the Lady of the Pilar. The largest and most exuberant fiesta of the City centers on the Lady – October 12, Fiesta Pilar – around which the annual Zamboanga Hermosa Festival revolves. The legacy of Spain is also the city’s unique language – Chavacano – a Spanish patois that is kept vibrant by locals today.
From 1903 to 1913 of the American era, Zamboanga was the center of the whole of Mindanao, capital of the Moro province. As such, it was once the largest city in the world.
Zamboanga today continues to be the center of trade, commerce, transportation, communication, education, technology, tourism, and religion in the Zamboanga peninsula. She is simply living up to tradition. As alluring as ever, Zamboanga City shines out … as she has always done
Zamboanga del Norte
Zamboanga del Norte shared Zamboanga del Sur’s birth but ever before the province existed separately; its Shrine City of Dapitan was already renowned as the home of the country’s most famous exile, national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal just before his martyrdom. Today, Dapitan retains much of the old world ambiance and charm, succeeding in retaining the delicate balance the progress of the times and the heritage of a city with a special niche in Philippine history. Its rustic character blooming with the reminders of an age long gone makes it a must for every visitor. Dapitan also hosts a world-class and the region’s leading resort – Dakak Beach Resort.
Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, and known as the Orchid City has a charm all its own, tracing roots from a Spanish settlement in 1634. While it is the urban and commercial center of Zamboanga del Norte, it has also managed to preserve the air of a countryside village that endears it too many seeking the conveniences of modern life with the ease and peace of countryside living.
Zamboanga del Norte also abounds with natural beauty – lush forest parks and falls, scenic beaches and coves plus historical landmarks that take the visitor on many nostalgic trips to the past.
Zamboanga del Sur
Zamboanga del Sur came into her came into her own on June 6, 1952, becoming a separate province carved out of Zamboanga City along with sister province Zamboanga del Norte.
Once the Zamboanga Peninsula’s largest and most populous province, she in turn gave way in 2001 when her southern end become the new province of Zamboanga Sibugay.
With Pagadian City as her capital and now the regional government center of the peninsula, Zamboanga del Sur’s beauty and bounty are undeniable. The four bays of Sibuguey, Dumanguilas, Maligay, and Pagadian are perfect foils to the coastal plains and verdant mountain hinterlands of the province.
Numerous waterfalls dot the provincial landscape and lakes such as Lakewood and Dasay provide oasis experiences. Add to them caves, beaches, and scenic mountains that make for a hard-to-beat nature package. Get a preview by standing at high point in Pagadian City and take in the sweeping vista down to where the wharf is. It is easy to see why Pagadian is called the Little Hongkong of the South.
Add in the native color and mystery of the Subanens, the dominant tribe in the province. The attraction of Zamboanga del Sur is undeniable indeed.
Zamboanga Sibugay is the peninsula’s newest province. There had been many attempts to carve up the large province of Zamboanga del Sur as far back as the ‘60s.
In 1993, businessman turned politician Jose Cabaral Tiu, started the Zamboanga Occidental Movement. This created a wave of political consciousness in the then 3rd District of Zamboanga del Sur that swelled until the momentum for a separate province become inexorable.
During the May 1997 barangay elections, a People’s Initiative on the issue of a separate province was conducted. The result was an overwhelming majority of voters coming out in favor of the new province.
The process for Zamboanga Sibugay’s birth began with House Bill No. 1311 authored by Congressman George T. Hofer, which was approved in November 2000, and culminated with the issuance and signing into law of Republic Act 8973 by the President Joseph E. Estrada. In February 2001, the province of Zamboanga Sibugay came into existence with Ipil leading 15 other towns in composing the Zamboanga Peninsula’s newest province. Zamboanga Sibugay is beautiful. One only has to see sites such as Looc Labuan Beach in Tungawan, Litayon Island, Baluran Falls in Imelda, the Moalboal Caves, and the intriquing sea snakes in Olutanga among others to realize that it is a gem of a province.
- Fish and Fish Products