Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula

Tripoto
21st May 2014

The Subanen

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Churros and hot chocolate at Tablea

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Suman and hot chocolate at Tablea

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Chocolate mousse at Tablea

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Near the entrance of the park

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

The house in the canopy

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

View from the treehouse

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

You know you're there when you see this

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

My sisters reading the menu of Esquina

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Follow the grey brick road at Cogon

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

One of the Subanen dancers

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

The Subanen woman who said thank you

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Dakak

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Roasted Banana w/ ice cream

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

The tables at Inato Lang

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

The barge of Inato Lang

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Crispy kangkong in the foreground

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

Food at Inato Lang

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

An indian mango vendor

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

People selling from their truck

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

A calamari vendor at the Boulevard

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

An owl at the aviary of Cogon

Photo of Discovering the Zamboanga Peninsula by Rowhe Rodriguez

An hour-long flight from Metro Manila's airport, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people of Dipolog smiled easily and served the best food at really low prices. Fresh seafood was abundant and I ate indian mangoes to my heart's content. This place wasn't too much on the side of roughing it, but it still retained the feeling of being away from a busy metropolis. 

We hired a shuttle for a day and the driver took us to all the places he thought we'd like to see, so when you do go, look for a shuttle, but don't get one at the airport – they're two times more expensive.  Also keep in mind that because it isn't a major city, people move at a much more relaxed pace, so coordination with anyone can take a bit of time.

Everyone is willing to have a conversation but a lot of the time they'll assume you can speak Bisaya. Most of the people can speak English or Tagalog though. 

Ever tried water buffalo jerky? No? How about crispy sardines with french fries? I enjoyed Esquina because they added a twist to everything I thought I was already familiar with. Practically everything served was produced in-house and their food had that unique home cooked taste. It was a very small place, serving a maximum of about 15 people at any one time, and the owners often came out to ask us how we were doing. Because of the rotational black outs in the region, their lights went out soon after we arrived. However, instead of this dampening our experience, I think we even benefitted from it. They brought out candles and we had a romantically lit dinner under a clear star filled sky. Definitely worth it.
Photo of Esquina Deli, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Esquina Deli, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
I'm a nature lover by default. This place has trees that you know have been there for years, maybe centuries. I enjoyed walking through the densely populated forest (jungle?) and was delighted to have the chance to climb up to a tree house in the canopy. The view from up there was a breathtaking. They also had a small aviary with different sorts of birds (one even growled like a dog) and a traditional dance performed by the indigenous tribe, the Subanen, of the area. At the end of their performance one of the performance was sweet enough to thank us for coming. She spoke to us in their native language and our guide translated.
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Cogon EcoTourism Park, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
You pay about $10 for entrance, but with that you gain access to a pristine, practically unpopulated beach with calm water and a free meal at their Italian restaurant. The beach was very well maintained and had white sand that my feet were thankful for (no hot iron filings here!). There were a lot of trees and a lot of wildlife. My sister found a hermit crab and I found an emerald green lizard. In my bag.
Photo of Dakak Beach Resort, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
The food choices here had the run of the mill Filipino dishes like kinilaw (raw fish cooked in vinegar), but it also had interesting choices like crispy kangkong (water spinach breaded and deep fried like tempura) and roasted banana with ice cream and caramel. We ate so much, but spent comparatively less to what we would've spent for a similar meal in Metro Manila. I especially enjoyed the ambience of the restaurant. While we did miss the chance to dine on a barge, the less mobile part of the restaurant overlooked the point where a freshwater river meets the saltwater from the sea. If you looked into the water, you'd see schools of fish swimming close by.
Photo of Inato Lang, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Inato Lang, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Inato Lang, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Inato Lang, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Inato Lang, Dapitan City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Yes, the sunset was beautiful, and yes, the weather was nice and cool, but the food, oh the food! My mother raised my sisters and me to enjoy street food. Something about eating things on flimsy paper plates just does it for us. Not to mention street food is a gateway to the culture of any one society. At night this boulevard teems with local street food vendors. You get things like fresh coconut juice and calamari all at prices less than Php20 (less than $ 0.50). Some people even sell fresh fruit straight from the trunks of their cars.
Photo of Dipolog Sunset Boulevard, Dipolog, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Dipolog Sunset Boulevard, Dipolog, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Dipolog Sunset Boulevard, Dipolog, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
This is a great place if you enjoy hot chocolate. They source their beans from all over the Philippines and serve it in several different ways. They have cocoa beans covered in dark chocolate (sinful, I know), chocolate mousse, and flavoured hot chocolates. I asked for a bit of mint in my hot chocolate and my sister asked for a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and a dash of cinnamon.
Photo of Tabléa Chocolate Café, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Tabléa Chocolate Café, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
Photo of Tabléa Chocolate Café, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines by Rowhe Rodriguez
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