Zamboanga Postcards from the Future

Zamboanga Hermosa, used to be the city of flowers, will again blossom as a beautiful world class city which deeply values heritage, an Asian Latin City, multi-cultural, inclusive, and inter-faith, and one of the capital trading centers in the Southern Philippines. It will no longer be just a backdoor, but a frontdoor of development. It will be a gateway to the BIMP-EAGA region, Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. There are high hopes for the city and for the people of Zamboanga, andwe at Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture are excited for her future.

Zamboanga city alone is twice the size of Singapore, but the whole Peninsula has the area as big as 24 Singapore and 16 Hong Kong. To imagine the vastness of Zamboanga, with all her geographic splendors, one cannot but feel elated on the many possibilities that Zamboanga could become. Currently the population of the city is around 800,000. With the design adapting smart, safe, and sustainable approach, it can comfortable accommodate up to 12 million people in Zamboanga City, and millions more in the rest of the Peninsula.


Urban Regeneration

In the plan that we presented to the people of Zamboanga, under the leadership of Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, we emphasized that we will not make the same mistakes of Metro Manila. Development should be balanced throughout the city, not only at the center. Urban growth should be established in the East, West, North, South, and the 25 islands so that the seven proposed urban centers will act as counter-magnets and creating a more balanced urban/rural development. Quality education, quality healthcare, good infrastructure, and job opportunities should be accessible throughout the city and the rest of the Peninsula. Development should spread out evenly like butter on a piece of bread.

The current development pattern is heavily situated in a 7km radius, and as early as now we should address it. The traffic congestion, housing shortage, as well as the disparity in access to quality education, healthcare, and job opportunities should also be addressed.

On a general overview, Zamboanga is designed to become a mix of an Agropolis (the farm and the city) and an Aerotropolis (airport-driven urban development), with utilizing three major sea ports. It is also envisioned that the Mindanao Rail Development from the North, will be extended all the way to the central city. This will give access and strengthen intermodal transport connectivity and linkages to the rest of Mindanao.

We call this concept Rurban. It is developing central business districts that are integrated with agro-industries so that food security, airport, sea ports, transport, and others concerns are addressed. On the other hand, it is a smart city design that properly pin point which areas will become Urban growth centers and development corridors and influence the directions of urban growth and development.


Seven Development Clusters

We identified seven development planned units (7 DPUs). Each DPU is planned to be self-reliant communities but inter-dependent to the needs of others. While it is independent, its plan is made to be integrated with other communities so that transportation and other services will become seamless.

DPU 1 & DPU 2– the Tumaga Central Business District and the Mercedes CBD expansion. This will become the tandem aerotropolis with the proposed Mercedes Airport. The Aerotropolis concept, such that of Dubai, Singapore, Atlanta, Amsterdam, and Dallas-Fort Worth are integrated multi-model transportation hubs which are strategically connected with central business districts and warehousing industries.

The two DPU’s are also envisioned to become a transportation hub that will have a strong emphasis on heritage tourism, and the development of a University Town.

DPU 3-  Is envisioned to become the agro-industrial complex. Crops and industries such as coconut, mango, and sardine production may thrive in this complex. Same as DPU 5 – In the Sangali area, where an integrated fish and sea port complex is envisioned. The Sangali sea port complex should be fully utilized for both fishing and agro-industrial use. With its utilization, it can provide a lot of jobs and opportunities for the people of Zamboanga. Like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai sea port services are significant to their economy.

 DPU 4- The Labunan area is imagined to become a Mixed-use development economic center with the development of a intra/inter urban transport. This community center can also become a place for residential and hotel development.

DPU 6 & 7 -  The Curuan and Vitali area is imagined to become an agro-industrial and agro-tourism area. In Curuan, the culturing of high valued crops is seen as a potential. As well as to become a site for community relocation development that will move people away from hazard areas. On the other hand the Vitali area is proposed to develop a sea port as well.


Zamboanga, among other cities around the country, has potential to become one of the best cities in the world, although there is still so much to be done. We at Palafox Associates and Palafox Architecture are finalizing the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Zoning. In addition, we have included transportation/mobility, tourism, security by design, disaster preparedness plan and urban design with conceptual architectural perspectives we presented as “Postcards from the Future”. With strong political will, visionary leadership, good planning, good design, and good governance, the city will be able to realize its high development potential.