If there was destination I would not mind visiting again soon, It will be Dapitan City. Sure, it is not as bustling as Cebu nor cosmopolitan like Davao. But what sets Dapitan City for me is its simple allure, a laid back charm strengthened by the memories of one great man named Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the Philippines’ National Hero.
It was our first full day in this sleepy city after spending a day in Dipolog. I recall that I still wanted to bury myself under the sheets but the unpredictable weather served as a warning for me. Reluctantly, I got up, took a bath and prepared for the long day ahead.
Visiting Rizal Shrine was the highlight of our day. But I told my friend that we will drop by the church first. I eagerly relayed to her what Dr. Rizal has greatly contributed to what she was seeing. I didn’t know if she was really interested in the facts I was reciting. But I was glad my friend still came with me.St. James Church, Liwasan and the Surrounding Old Houses
It was around seven in the morning and I observed that life in the province start out late unlike in Manila where you have to be out and about before 5 AM if you want to avoid the horrendous traffic jam.
As I worried about the weather earlier, the sky was a bit overcast when we went out. I silently prayed that the rains be held off for a couple more days or until we were safe back home. We entered the church premises just as the city center reluctantly came to life, each person readying themselves for whatever activities they had for that day.
I thought back in our inn that the church might be closed at such an early hour. But I suppressed a grin when I saw the large church doors wide open, seeming to call us to enter its premises right away.
There was no one in sight. And I welcomed the idea of being alone in this house of worship for a few moments. I tried to imagine what it appeared in the late 1800s. I asked myself, where did Dr. Rizal stand? Did he walk where I did? Did he like touching the walls like I do? If the church could hear me, I bet it would scold me and will tell me to keep quiet.I read somewhere that Dr. Rizal was the one who designed the church’s altar. So I walked further until I was near enough the retablado but was still far enough to avoid being apprehended in case a church personnel saw me and forbid me from getting near it.
Before proceeding to the park, I saw this historical landmark on one of the church’s interior posts, near the church doors. Reading what it said definitely gave me goosebumps! It was said to be where he used to stand during mass. Dr. Rizal really breathed and lived in this place. You could say I was sort of awestruck just at the thought of being where he used to.
After admiring the church, we circled the park fronting the church and saw this older house at the side. Since the house we saw didn’t appear to be from the Spanish times, I guessed that this was the spot where the original structure stood, the house Rizal resided in upon his arrival in Dapitan before being transferred to the bay area.
Having lived in crowded Manila, I find joy in big, wide open spaces. I liked the fact that there was a spacious park we can enjoy. And even here, Dr. Rizal’s legacy is still evident as he was the one who designed the park’s layout. The marker also read that he also planted Acacia trees. I wonder though, if those trees were the very same ones we saw still standing there.
To my delight, there were still well-preserved structures from the early days surrounding the park. We spent a moment admiring each.
After taking photos of the other old structures, my friend and I went to Sunset Blvd to look for a place to eat. It was still early at past 7 AM. Luckily, we found a 24/7 carinderia (eatery) serving Silog meals. I ordered a Sisig meal while my friend craved for Tapsilog. At 50 per meal, it was quite a steal.
We decided to walk towards the souvenir shop we saw the day before and checked out their goods. I was able to buy a yellow beach hat while my friend grabbed a couple of shirts. I wanted to buy more but I had to save it for my next visit. My wallet was already complaining!
After getting a quick rest back in our inn, it was finally time to visit Rizal Shrine. I was expecting to pay a minimal fee at the entrance but it turns out to be free. I was glad that there were not much tourists at the time of our visit.
The area where Rizal lived in exile for four years was very large. There was a newly-built museum specifically dedicated to this part of his life. I can say that I learned a lot from this visit. My school days were refreshed and scenes in my Rizal subject back in college dominated my thoughts that afternoon.Museum Interiors
But my most favorite place inside Rizal Shrine was Dr. Rizal’s main house. It was only a replica of course but I still found myself wandering around it and wondering about it. His kitchen was separated from the main house where I found various forms of pottery and to my delight, there was a even a tapayan and banguerrahan!
The house was pretty bare inside sans the number of native furniture on display. There was a life-size statue of Josephine Bracken too. A touch screen computer was also available for visitors to use. Here one can learn in details what Jose and Josephine’s life were like back then.
I can easily say that I can stay in a place like for a long time. But while the place was surrounded by nature, I felt bored at times. So when I learned that Dr. Rizal too felt tired of being in exile, I knew exactly how he felt back then.My admiration for him has grown deeper. And I also found out that our national hero has a good sense of humor. And that he was also just a human who gets sad. I was amazed at how his family was able to visit him given the remoteness of its location.
Our whole afternoon was slow, relaxed and most of all educational. I was glad that I was finally able to tick this off my travel list.
Itinerary and Expenses
Click here to check out how much I spent for this trip.