It was a surprise that Ronald, one of our backpacking buddies, brought these Zamboanga goodies. A few hours before his flight to Cebu, I texted him to bring some Old Town, Cadbury Hot Chocolate and Maggi Kari packs. I did not get a reply afterwards so I just brushed it aside, thinking that my request came in a bit late already and that he’s not exactly a magnanimous philanthropist, or at least that’s how I knew him back in the day.
So I was a bit shocked when he handed these packs when we met up at Ayala. Maybe Zamboanga somehow changed our friend’s heart and made his pockets even deeper since he took an assignment there. I do not have the liberty to discuss his position and his company in this blog, but suffice to say that it is a legitimate job and like most of us, he pays taxes as well.
Although Ronald bought these goodies at another city in the Zamboanga Peninsula, these reminded me of Canelar, a popular shopping center for ‘traded’ items in Zamboanga City. I remember that it was one of the stopovers that I had to squeeze in the itinerary during a trip to Sulu a few years ago.
Except perhaps for the locally printed shirts, everything seems to be imported at Canelar – MaLing canned goods of all shapes and varieties, Vermicelli noodles, Apollo wafer bars and Betet ointments. These inexplicably became part of my happy childhood. There are also items that I just recently came across such as the Maggi Kari packs which I think is not being sold in retail elsewhere in the Philippines.
I wish I have blogged about Zamboanga City a lot sooner than this. Even if I spent only a few hours there and that the only chavacano that I know are some lines of Maldita’s Porque and some swear words that I picked up from my Zamboangueño friends, I can still say that it is a beautiful city, one that’s easy to love and hard to forget.
After the senseless siege that grappled the city last year, the Zamboanga that I came to know may not be the same anymore. I am not sure as to the extent of the damage that Alavar’s, Jimmy’s Satti House and Canelar, sustained during those trying times. If I should find myself again in Zamboanga City, here’s hoping that these favorite stops of mine would still be there and that more importantly, the entire city will be fully back on its feet.