You might say this is crazy but I really did went to Zamboanga with only 2,000 pesos in my pocket! It was a suicidal attempt. But I survived!
Robert informed me he was bringing me to Zamboanga because his friend could not make it. I agreed without analyzing my financial capacities. I could not believe I only had that much during my travel.
The return plane tickets were given by my sis, thanks to Cebu Pacific. This practice of CebPac management to give free round trip tickets to parents and siblings of their employees is a worthy cause. It saved me. But the terminal fee at Mactan International Airport (at P200) did not.
My habit of eating once or twice a day also saved me. I mostly relied on coffee and lots of coffee. It was a blessing because Zamboanga has lots of donuts shops you can rely on. Almost every block there is a Dunkin Donuts or a Mister Donuts.
But going to where the real flavor is (and much cheaper than going to McDonald’s or KFC), we went to carenderias near malls (more safe and clean) so we could taste what the regular guys were eating (prices for a complete meal with drinks ranges from P40 to P80). We even searched for halal restos but seeing the food is not inviting for me. Tintin from UniSpa suggested we try the tiulah itum (pronounced chu’lah), a beef stew topped with burnt coconut shreds. I did not take her suggestion.
We walked around Zamboanga not due to the fact that I was really on a very very tight budget, but we loved feeling and immersing the place. When you walk, you see the real essence of the place. And it was a good exercise, too. (Tricycle fare from airport to hotel is P50 to P60. To Café Sacco at Pasonanca Park is P60 during evenings. Pasonanca Park during the day is P50. Fare to the Yakan village is P10 using the Ayala jeep route.)
A good massage at UniSpa during our last night was heaven. It took a good chunk of my budget plus tip but it was worth it. (Full body massage is P280. Tip is P100 since the masseur was good.)
Robert shouldered our accommodation at Hermosa Hotel along Jaldon Street. (Overnight stay for 2 is from P700 to P750, that’s a room with T&B, A/C and cable TV.)
The terminal fee at Zamboanga International Airport is only at P40. I could not agree more since the airport, despite the fancy name, is not really that good. Just like any government infrastructure.
I arrived in Cebu with only P200 left for the taxi. The driver was kind enough to return P10 for emergency cases.
My only regret on that trip? I haven't seen any vinta in Zamboanga as they advertised. The only semblance of a vinta I saw was strapped in the lamp posts around the city and at the trees in Pasonanca Park.