Tracing Rizal's footsteps in Dapitan

Travel Bucket List
Rizal landing marker at Sta. Cruz beach, Dapitan

Text and photos by Jay Agoo

Dapitan City is dubbed the “Shrine City of the Philippines,” and not without good reason. The quaint town in Zamboanga del Norte is rich in history, being the place where beloved hero Jose Rizal lived in exile.

Dapitan is thus riddled with historical markers tracing Rizal’s years in the area, from his arrival at the shores of Santa Cruz to his residence in Barangay Talisay. But those are not the only reasons for you to visit.

Aside from its history, what makes Dapitan a perfect destination is the fact that it also has breathtaking natural beauty. Dakak Beach Resort, a popular destination for tourists, is in Barangay Taguilon in Dapitan.

The house where Rizal spent years in exile in Dapitan


Getting to know Rizal
As soon as you arrive in Dapitan, visit the Rizal Shrine where the hero spent the last four years of his life in exile. The reconstructed “cases” face a scenic shoreline, making it perfect for photos.

Rizal not only lived in the structure, which has been declared a national park. It was also where he saw his patients and taught pupils. A museum has been built in the shrine to showcase Rizal memorabilia.

Dapitan City Plaza

A leisurely stroll in the city streets, one of the cleanest roads I’ve seen, would allow you marvel at well-preserved heritage homes. Some of the streets have been named Maria Clara, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, still honoring Rizal and his works.

The wide City Plaza is lined with century-old trees while the adjacent Spanish-era church offers you a beautiful relaxing provincial scene. In time for sundown, take a tricycle to Sunset Boulevard and take in the beautiful view.

Other attractions and things to do in Dapitan:

1. Relief Map of Mindanao in front of St. James Church done by Rizal himself to motivate his pupils while teaching geography and history

2. The Old and New Municipal Buildings, whose contrasting architecture are reminders of the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines

View from Ilihan Hill in Dapitan City

3.  A short hike to Ilihan Hill (entrance at Barangay Potol) overlooking  the city

4.  Shop and Play at Gloria De Dapitan, a world class amusement park in Mindanao; at night, amusement park Fantasyland offers thrilling rides.

5.  Try the seafood at Sunset Boulevard sold at the seaside by some eateries and food establishments

Sunset Boulevard in Dapitan City

How to get there:

Dipolog City is the nearest airport going to Dapitan with flights coming from Manila and Cebu. From Dipolog, buses and jeepneys are available for a 30 to 40-minute ride. Boats also sail from Cebu and Dumaguete.  In Dapitan City, tricycles are the common transportation to get around.

Going to Dakak Beach Resort, if you booked a room, pick up can be arranged. For day tour, you can rent a habal-habal (motorbike) or tricycle going to the resort and back from the city proper.

Dakak Beach Resort

About the author:
Jay Agoo is an accountant who is now connected with a food manufacturing company.  He juggles his schedule by working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and traveling the Philippines on weekends and holidays.

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Dakak Beach Resort shoreline