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Full Circle

Day 97: General Santos City to Zamboanga

Michael Palin - Full CircleHow is it that Zamboanga, referred to in the Nagel Guide as the city of the Five 'Fs' - 'Flowers, Fruit, Friends, Femmes and Faith' - can be surrounded by so much controversy? My friend says the answer lies in the word Faith. Of the sixty-eight million people in the Philippines, three million (four and a half per cent) are Muslim. In Zamboanga twenty-seven per cent are Muslim. They have consistently fought for some degree of autonomy and religious liberty. The last twenty-five years have seen an intensification of this struggle and a cost of over 50,000 lives. Meanwhile the area stagnated. The fishing industry was so underdeveloped that it was said that in the waters of Basilan 'the fish die of old age'. A highway was said to have been completed seven times but in fact this was the number of times funds were allocated, only to end up in the pockets of corrupt officials. Now central government, anxious not to be left out of the Pacific Rim economic boom, wants a settlement. Potentially prosperous trading links with Indonesia and Malaysia could be threatened the violence continues. Compromise is in the air. President Ramos has even suggested incorporating the Muslim crescent moon into the Philippine flag.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 97
  • Country/sea: Philippines
  • Place: Zamboanga
  • Book page no: 139

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