Zamboanga always throbs with the colorful cultures, traditions, and lifestyles of people shaped by the confluence of native Subano, Malay, Islamic (Yakan, Samal, Tausug and Badjao), Spanish and American cultures that spanned the course of centuries. Of all these, the Spanish culture had the strongest impact – about 50% of Zamboangueño culture is anchored on España and its three centuries of presence.
Love of one’s heritage is typical value, which clearly manifests the extent of Hispanic culture, and influence among the Zamboangueños.
Despite the authenticity and distinctiveness of the Zamboangueños as a cultural group in the Zamboanga Peninsula, there is not much that can be identified as indigenous in terms of beliefs and practices.
All of these cultures, however, are fascinating and form the essence of Zamboanga’s cultural heritage, unique and the envy of many less fortunate cities and provinces who cannot lay claim to such a colorful past and history. The diversity of Zamboanga flows together in a single stream – the Christians and Muslims living in harmony for centuries, the Chinese and the Spanish or American mestizos transacting the daily business of life, and the women of all races giving Zamboanga the face of beauty the world has known for many years.
Zamboangueño customs and traditions are quaint and replete with old world courtesy. Modernity and western influences have somewhat modified them through the years. Among them: the role of the father as the family model quite strict, specially with daughters, and the mother as the light of the family whose kingdom was the home; or table manners that required a code of courtesy; the respect for elders and visitors that saw children relegated to their rooms until guests had left; or the Zamboangueño who was often called “un hombre de cojones.”
On the other side, though, there are also traits such as misplaced or excessive pride, vanity, jealousy, boastfulness, and snobbishness that detracted. But put them all together, this was the Zamboangueño package, like it or not.
The Zamboangueño courtship and traditions are elaborate and regulated by a long list of required social graces. An example is the fact that a suitor could not sit unless permitted to do so by the lady’s parents, or the heavy cross-examination of the suitor who had to answer satisfactorily all questions as to his lineage, credentials, and occupation, or the courtship curfew, the need to cultivate the goodwill of all the members of the lady’s family.
“Zamboangueño songs” also show much of culture. The songs of love show the need for the harana or the coutship serenade as well as the limits puts on the expression of love by the norms of culture and tradition. The Chabacano Song Festival, has produced numerous Chabacano pieces. The Chabacano Song Festival is one of the events of the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival.