Muslim Mosque on stilts in Rio Hondo
I have been mentioning a lot about the scenic stilt houses down in Zamboanga Peninsula, and now it’s time to get deep inside one of these villages and take a glimpse of their life here. Enter Rio Hondo. Rio meaning ‘river’ Hondo meaning ‘deep’, is a deep river Muslim village on stilts of the coast of Zamboanga City. I heard Jessica Soho Reports featured this village a few weeks back, but I wasn’t able to catch it. I hope you’ll enjoy my feature on this scenic village on stilts as well.
Girl pulling some bottles of water
The Rio Hondo village is only a short drive from one of Zamboanga City’s major landmark, Fort Pilar. In fact Jeepneys go directly or end their routes in this village. We arrived at a bridge entrance to the so called village and we were hesitant to go in. Rio Hondo isn’t really a tourist spot, in fact it looks more like a slum at first sight and the scene of poverty is apparent. We are not one who’ll just walk in some unknown place like this not knowing what we would see inside.
Barangay Mariki’s elementary school
While at the bridge entrance, where a lot of kids and passers by whose attention we seemed to have attracted, we were able to talk to some locals on what we could find inside and if they could accompany us as well. Fortunately, we bumped into a nice guy named Mandangan (not sure if I got this right) who turns out to be the brother of a Baranggay Tanod in the area and was gracious enough to tour us around the place.
Walking through a labyrinth of Paths
Upon entering on what may seem a slum area isn’t very much really inside. Not all are makeshift houses using galvanized iron sheets really some are actually well made using concrete. At first we passed by on what seemed to be their market place with fresh fish, meats and vegetables are sold. Believe it or not, even pirated DVDs and CDs already made it here as well. There are billiard halls and videoke centers as well. But things really get interesting once we set foot on the wooden stilt foot paths inside the village.
Parked boats by the stilt houses
These wooden stilt foot paths are just really amusing and it was great that we have a guide who can show us around as it’s a labyrinth in here. One can easily get lost in this complex maze of wooden walkways and corridor of houses. At first I was really careful on pointing or taking shot of my camera, so while walking I was discreetly taking pictures from my camera phone. Of course I was being cautious as I don’t know if people here are okay being taken pictures with. But soon I learned that the community here are very welcoming of visitors and the aren’t very mindful of a picture or two. hat really put me at ease.
Hair cut anyone?
The village is very picturesque, those long stilt foundations reflecting over the waters, the parked boats, especially the geometric shapes of the paths along the houses and of course, the everyday life of the people of these village. We learned that there are actually a combination of Muslims and Badjao’s in the area. How to differentiate them, I have no idea, but it seems they themselves know hot tell one from the other. Like most of the people living close to the sea, most of their revenues come from fishing.
Scenic mosque among mangroves
It’s really amusing to see how people just hang out here and go on with their lives. Most of the children playing by the waters, some elders hanging out by their windows watching people pass by on their idle time. Mandangan also showed us this new section of the village facing the sea where we could clearly see the Great Santa Cruz Island on the horizon. He said the village is planning to build another section of houses in this area. Interesting. Too bad I never got to ask whether they got to pay some land taxes or water property taxes living in these areas.
Scenes among the wooden paths
Some of the interesting and scenic structures I’ve seen in this village is their Mosque found among the mangroves. There are actually 2 mosque here, one which you can find at the entrance and this one which I find really scenic. The structure seems to reflect the village’s identity as well, being made with sheets of galvanized irons as well. Honestly it looks very fragile and can seem to collapse at any moment. Seems to be leaning on one side as well. Another interesting structure is the school in Baranggay Mariki.
Muslim families in their houses
A visit to this stilt village of Rio Hondo is culturally rewarding. I know, it’s not everyone’s taste visiting places like these which seems like a venerated slum area to some people but this is how these people live and this is their culture. And I find these places quite interesting.
Laying the foundation while waving goodbye to us. (Great Santa Cruz Island at the background)
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.