Pagadian City | Getting to Know the “Little Hongkong of the South”


Pagadian City, the capital of the province of Zamboanga del Sur, is the regional center of Zamboanga Peninsula. Let’s get to know this city which is also dubbed as the “Little Hongkong” of the South.

Geographical Location

Pagadian is located at the central- northeastern side of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao. It is surrounded on its North-Northwest and North-Northeast by hills and mountains and at the South-Southeast & Southwest with the panoramic Illana Bay. It is bounded on the east-northeast by the Municipality of Labangan, on the North by the Municipality of Midsalip, on the Northwest, by the Municipality of Lakewood, and at the west-southwest, by the Municipalities of Dumalinao and Tigbao.

The City’s strategic location is one of Pagadian’s economic advantages. On the east-northeast, Pagadian City is accessible to and from the Cities of Tangub, Ozamis, Oroquieta, Dapitan & Dipolog, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro by bus via two separate routes, namely: the Pagadian-Molave-Osamis-Dipolog and Pagadian-Aurora-Illigan-Cagayan de Oro routes. On the west-northwest, the city is accessible to and from the City of Zamboanga and the Province of Zamboanga Sibugay, and on the southwest, to and from Zamboanga City via Margosatubig and Malangas.

Urban and Rural Areas

Pagadian City is composed of 54 barangays, 13 of which are categorized as urban and the remaining 41 are categorized as rural. The Urban Area comprises approximately 845.482 hectares or 2.206% of the total land area of the city, while the Rural Area has an approximate land area of 37,034.518 hectares, about 97.768% of the city’s total land area.

About 45% of the total city area is steeply sloping terrain of hills and mountains on the northwestern portion. Areas in the direct north as well as the central part, have gentle to moderate slopes, making up 47% of the total land area. The remaining 8% is level or nearly level, and makes up most of the eastern and the southern parts of the city.


Pagadian City is located within the tropics of the northern hemisphere which has pronounced dry season from January to March and rainy season from April to December. The region is generally not affected by storms and typhoons as it is located outside the Philippine Typhoon Belt.

Languages and Dialect

While the national language, Filipino (Tagalog) is widely understood in Pagadian City, majority of Pagadianons speak Cebuano. Iranum, Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug and Samal dialects are used by the Muslim community. The dialect of the indigenous Subanen people is in danger of being lost as younger generations prefer to use Cebuano instead.  As in the case with the rest of the Philippines, English is understood by virtually everyone and is used as the primary language for business and official purposes.

Origin of the name

The officially accepted origin of the city’s name are words taken from the Iranun dialect, “pagad” (wait) and “padian” (market), indicating that Pagadian had been a trading area in the past. Other theories suggest that it was named after a bird that the native inhabitants call “gagadian” or that the city’s name came from the word “pangadyi” (prayer), later to be known as “Pangadyian” (a place to pray or the land of prayers).

Lovette Jam is a founding member and blogger of Filipino Homes. She is a freelance digital media professional. With a Masters in Business Management degree and Hubspot certification on Inbound Marketing, she currently works as a social media manager, project manager, and digital consultant.

Lovette Jam is also the founder of Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. She authors the travel blog Travel Jams and lifestyle blog Lovette Jam.