Pagadian City

Hey there, ever heard of a city that’s a little slice of paradise tucked away in the Philippines? No? Well, buckle up, because I’m taking you on a virtual trip to Pagadian City! Nestled in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, this place is a total gem. Not your typical, flashy tourist hotspot, but a quiet charmer that’ll steal your heart before you even know it.

You know, Pagadian City is like that unassuming book on a shelf that’s actually a bestseller! Its humble exterior hides a vibrant, colorful world that’s just waiting to be explored. Surrounded by rolling hills and offering a panoramic view of Illana Bay, this city is a feast for the eyes. And let’s not even get started on the locals. Ever met people so warm and welcoming, they make you feel right at home in no time? Yep, that’s the Pagadian folks for you!

Oh, and did you know that Pagadian City is also known as the “Little Hong Kong of the South” because of its hilly terrain? Now, that’s a cool trivia, right? But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Pack those bags and come see for yourself!

Musical Dancing Fountain in Plaza Luz, Pagadian City
By Razzmatazz143 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

History of Pagadian City

The city’s story begins in the early 19th century. Spanish missionaries first set foot in Pagadian in 1860. They found a thriving community led by Datu Akob, a Subanen chieftain. At that time, the Subanen people populated the area, living in peace and harmony.

In 1880, a significant shift occurred when the Spanish colonial government officially recognized Pagadian as a town. The name “Pagadian” came from the native word “pangadji-an,” meaning a place for prayers, reflecting the spiritual significance of the area.

As the 20th century dawned, Pagadian experienced a series of transformations. First, in 1937, under the Commonwealth Act No. 39, Pagadian became the capital of Zamboanga del Sur, replacing Zamboanga City. This development ushered in a new era of progress and expansion.

World War II

The next phase of Pagadian’s history unfolded during and after World War II. The city endured the hardships of the war, but soon after the conflict ended, it began to recover. With the Immigration Act of 1940, an influx of migrants from other parts of the country arrived, bringing diverse cultures and practices. This migration significantly contributed to the city’s growth.

In the 1960s, Pagadian took another leap forward. On June 21, 1969, the Republic Act No. 5478 officially declared Pagadian a chartered city. The city’s population and economy started to grow at a rapid pace, and it became known as the “Little Hong Kong of the South” due to its topography.

The following years saw Pagadian continue to progress. The city proved resilient and adaptable, navigating through various challenges, including the Moro conflict in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite these hurdles, Pagadian remained a place of unity and diversity, with a mix of Christian, Muslim, and Indigenous communities.

In the 21st century, Pagadian has been striving to balance modern development with its rich history and culture. It has become a bustling regional center, known for its unique tricycle design and the rotating plaza. Moreover, it has been making strides in tourism, commerce, and agriculture, while preserving its natural beauty and cultural heritage.

To sum it up, Pagadian City’s history is a testament to resilience, diversity, and continual growth. The city’s journey from a spiritual place of the Subanen people to a vibrant regional hub mirrors the broader narrative of the Philippines — a story of overcoming challenges, embracing change, and looking forward to the future.

Unveiling the Cultural Tapestry

Pagadian City boasts a diverse cultural tapestry, influenced by its indigenous Subanen roots and the fusion of Spanish and Filipino traditions. Experience the city’s vibrant festivals, such as the Pasalamat Festival, where locals celebrate bountiful harvests with colorful parades and traditional dances. Immerse yourself in the warm hospitality of the locals, known for their friendliness and welcoming nature.

Food Cuisine in Pagadian City

Beginning with breakfast, a typical day in Pagadian starts with “Puto Maya” and “Sikwate”. Puto Maya is a traditional Filipino rice cake delicately steamed and often served with ripe mangoes. Paired with it is Sikwate, a hot chocolate drink made from pure cacao beans, which adds a sweet and comforting start to the day.

As the day progresses, the lunchtime menu takes center stage. “Lechon Manok”, a local favorite, graces the tables of many Pagadian households and restaurants. This dish features a whole chicken marinated in a blend of spices and then roasted to perfection over charcoal. Its tantalizing aroma and succulent taste make it a must-try when you’re in the city.

Transitioning to the afternoon, the city showcases a variety of snacks, locally known as ‘merienda’. One of the classics is “Bibingka”, a type of rice cake made from ground rice, coconut milk, and eggs, baked in a clay pot lined with banana leaves. The banana leaves infuse a distinct aroma into the Bibingka, making it a unique treat.

As the sun sets, dinner options in Pagadian City truly shine. “Inihaw na Panga” or grilled tuna jaw is a popular choice. Slightly charred on the outside and tender on the inside, this dish is a testament to the city’s love for fresh seafood. To accompany this, “Ginataang Gulay” is often served. This vegetable dish, cooked in coconut milk and spices, provides a creamy and spicy contrast to the smoky flavor of the Inihaw na Panga.

Finally, ending the day on a sweet note, Pagadian offers “Durian Candy”. Made from the pulp of the controversial durian fruit, known for its potent smell and distinctive taste, these candies are a sweet delight that locals and tourists alike enjoy.

Tourist Spots in Pagadian City

Firstly, let’s set our sights on the Rotonda Park. This is a beautiful circular park that sits at the heart of the city. As you stroll along its well-manicured paths, you’ll be welcomed by the cool breeze, vibrant flowers, and a fascinating fountain at the center. Night-time adds a whole new dimension to the park’s charm as bright, colorful lights illuminate it, creating a magical atmosphere.

Transitioning from the bustling city center, our next stop is the Lison Valley Waterfall. Tucked away in the lush greenery, the waterfall is a sight to behold. The sound of water cascading down the rocks creates a calming environment, while the cool, clear water invites you to take a dip. Don’t forget to bring your swimming gear!

Moving on, we make our way to the Dao Dao Islands. These tiny islands, located about a kilometer away from the mainland, are a perfect getaway for beach lovers. You can rent a boat, sail across the clear blue waters, and spend the day exploring, snorkeling, or simply relaxing on the sandy shores.

Next on our list is Mount Palpalan. Known for its diverse flora and fauna, this mountain is a haven for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. As you ascend the trails, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Pagadian City and the surrounding Moro Gulf.

Finally, we can’t miss out on the Pagadian City Agora Market. This bustling marketplace is a treasure trove of local products. From fresh seafood and fruits to handcrafted souvenirs, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine.

Festivals and Events in Pagadian City

One of the most anticipated events is the Megayon Festival, celebrated every September. This week-long celebration pays homage to the unity and cooperation among the Subanen, Muslim, and Christian communities living in the city. Traditional dances, colorful costumes, and live music fill the streets, creating a spectacle of unity in diversity.

Transitioning into October, Pagadian City commemorates its founding anniversary with the Pasalamat Festival. Locals and tourists alike look forward to this event where vibrant parades, dance competitions, and agricultural product showcases take center stage. The highlight of the festival is the grand float parade, featuring intricately designed floats from various schools, businesses, and organizations.

As the year turns, February marks the celebration of the Pamulak Kadayawan. This event is a grand floral float parade that serves as a thanksgiving ritual for the year’s bountiful harvest. The floats, adorned with beautiful flowers and fruits, are a sight to behold.

In addition to these major festivals, Pagadian City also hosts several sporting events and cultural showcases throughout the year. The Palarong Pambansa, a national multi-sport event, often sees Pagadian City as a participant, displaying the athletic prowess of its youth. Additionally, the city frequently holds art exhibits and cultural performances that showcase the talents of local artists and performers.

Engaging Activities for Every Adventurer

a. Discovering Nature’s Masterpieces:
Embark on a thrilling adventure to the enchanting cascades of the Lourdes Grotto Waterfalls, where the cool, crystal-clear waters invite you to take a refreshing dip. Marvel at the captivating beauty of the Pulacan Falls, surrounded by lush greenery and offering a picturesque backdrop for memorable photographs.

b. Conquering the Pagadian Zipline:
Brace yourself for an adrenaline-pumping experience as you soar through the sky on the Pagadian Zipline, one of the longest and highest in Asia. Feel the rush of excitement as you glide across stunning landscapes, taking in panoramic views of the city below.

c. Exploring the Underground River:
Venture into the mystical depths of the Dao-Dao Cave, an underground river system that winds through limestone formations and awe-inspiring chambers. This unique experience allows you to witness nature’s wonders firsthand, as you navigate through the cave’s mesmerizing tunnels.

How to Get There

Arriving in Pagadian City is convenient, with several transportation options available.

a. By Air:
The nearest major airport is the Pagadian Airport, which serves domestic flights from Manila and Cebu City. From the airport, you can easily reach the city center via taxis or tricycles.

b. By Land:
If you prefer a scenic journey, you can opt for a bus ride from nearby cities such as Zamboanga or Davao. Several bus companies offer regular trips to Pagadian City, providing a comfortable and affordable travel option.

c. By Sea:
For those seeking a maritime adventure, you can also reach Pagadian City by ferry. The city’s port serves as a gateway for sea travel, connecting it to other destinations in the Philippines.

People Also Read: Tourist Spots in Palayan City


What a wild ride it’s been exploring Pagadian City, huh? We strolled through the bustling city streets, sampled the local cuisine, and soaked up some history. We’ve experienced the warmth of the locals and marveled at the city’s unique blend of urban and rural charm. It’s been quite the adventure, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

But like all good things, our virtual tour has to come to an end. I bet you’re left with a hankering for more, right? Well, that’s the beauty of Pagadian City. It leaves you wanting more, every single time. So, what’s stopping you from booking that ticket and diving headfirst into this wonderful, heartwarming city? Remember, the best adventures aren’t always the ones that are plastered all over travel magazines. Sometimes, they are tucked away in places like Pagadian City, waiting for you to stumble upon them. So, are you ready to take the plunge?

Like this article? Spread it! ✨
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top