Twilight at Taluksangay Zamboanga

Minaret of Taluksangay Mosque

When I went to Zamboanga, one of my top priority destination that I would like to see and experience was Barangay Taluksangay and its red Masjid (mosque). It’s in history and travel books, and even on postcards about Zamboanga City. That Sunday afternoon, John Marlowe, a friend of mine and a local of the city, took me to this historical place that is a known bastion of Islam in Mindanao. Some people said, “delikado doon! Wag ka nang pumunta doon” (It’s dangerous! Just don’t go there.)-I said, “then let’s go there!” without hesitation nor fear for the people.

The Taluksangay Mosque

Barangay Taluksangay is located some 20 kilometers east of Pueblo (downtown Zamboanga City). The community is located at the swampy coastline of the peninsula. Taluksangay proper itself lies separated from the mainland by an estuary. One would see the towering minarets from afar, welcoming guests who have come to Taluksangay.

Twilight at Taluksangay Slideshow: HabagatCentral.com’s trip from Cavite, Luzon, Philippines to Taluksangay (near Zamboanga, Mindanao) was created by TripAdvisor. See another Zamboanga slideshow. Create a free slideshow with music from your travel photos.

It was already dusk when we reached there…just in time for one of the Muslims’ five daily prayers (salah), the maghrib or dusk prayer. Unplanned, we were quite shy on asking permission to at least take photos of the mosque that has been both symbolic and historic in the phase of Islam in Mindanao. Yet we were given permission to do so, thanks to the community leaders.]

Sunset and the Crescent

Taluksangay Mosque is believed to be the first mosque or masjid in Zamboanga Peninsula (outside of Sulu Archipelago) and was established by Hadji Abdullah Nuño Ma-as in 1885. It was recognized by the foreign Islamic countries as the first place where Islam has spread in Zamboanga. One of which to recognize was the Sultan of Istanbul, in which he gave chandeliers and large frames with Arabic inscriptions written in golden calligraphy.

One of the Islamic artifacts inside the masjid

The Historical Commission plaque--inscribing Taluksangay Mosque's historical and cultural importance in Mindanao

The mosque itself has undergone some changes in order to adapt the growing number of followers. The old cemetery sits beside the mosque, and is still there. In 2008, the said mosque was expanded and can now accommodate more or less 3,000 worshipers in one single event.

Taluksangay Mosque and Community

The mosque may not look like as the centuries-old cathedrals and churches in Luzon and the Visayas, but the very site is where the original mosque stood…transforming bigger and bigger.

Taluksangay Mosque as seen from the port

Like Hadji Nuño Ma-as, majority of the Taluksangay residents have Sama Banguingui origin, people who once were feared by the Spanish colonizers as “pirates” of Sulu Sea. The Sama Banguingui’s main livelihood depends on the sea, on bartering goods within Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga.

Houses on stilts -- adapted to sea level rise!

It was already dusk. We went to the port where we can see Sacol Island and the Taluksangay residents doing their afternoon activities. The coastline itself is full of houses on stilts—as most traditional communities in Sulu Archipelago and Zamboanga such as those of the Tausug people and the Sama. They have boats, boats and more boats—I guess when sea levels rise, these people wouldn’t have any difficulty living in such conditions.

The sunsets at Taluksangay

Then, we heard the adhan or the call for prayer. It was already their dusk prayer or salat al magrib. Hearing the muezzin call gave me goosebumps in a positive way. As the five minute call resonated all over Taluksangay, the faithful came streaming in at the mosque, greeting us with either “Salam” or “Assalamou Alaikoum” with a smile and with hands on their chests. It was a polite yet warm welcome for us who went there, I guess they are quite used to visitors since Taluksangay itself often has visitors—scholars of Islam to local or foreign tourists.

Then I watched the worshipers gather around and do their prayers facing Mak’kah (Mecca). I was hesitant yet I like to speak with the Imam or the community leader when the electricity went off. No matter, the worshipers still continued to pray in the dark. For Marlowe and I, we have to leave Taluksangay for the city.

The faithful faces Mecca

Our visit was short and unplanned. I also heard from a native Zamboangueño that there is a place in Taluksangay where they make tinagtag or popularly known as Zambo-rolls. My visit was—bitin.

The Star and the Crescent

Taluksangay and its mosque, like the adhan resonates of Islamic and Sama culture of Mindanao. A bastion of faith, it holds a strong heritage and culture of the people that lives peacefully beside with other peoples of Mindanao. Those warm greetings of salam and asalamou alaykoum may only mean one thing—that in the near future, I would once again visit this bailiwick of faith and Mindanao culture-and without hesitation, without fear, just like going to Mindanao. Centuries of distrust and misunderstanding has already inscribed to the mindsets of both peoples not to trust each other. I guess in this day and age, it is time to conquer that fear, hesitation and even ignorance. Lets open up our minds, be rational, and the most important thing-RESPECT.

How to Get There:

There are jeepneys going to Taluksangay from Pueblo. But before that, it is advised that you visit the Tourism Office of Zamboanga City at NS Valderosa Street, just in front of Universidad de Zamboanga and a block away from the City Hall, for more information.


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