Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte – The 40-hectare property that once served as a farm of National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal in this town continues to draw hundreds of visitors.
According to Region 9 office of the Department of Tourism (DOT-9) Director Mary June Bugante, said the farm still serves as an important heritage of every Filipino.
Every month, groups of students and tourists – both local and foreign – visit the place to reminisce how Rizal developed the area into a farm.
At present, the place is planted to coconut, mango, and other fruit trees, which is now owned by the Eguia family.
The family’s patriarch, 98-year-old Crisostomo Eguia Sr., still lives at the farm together with his children and grandchildren.
It was learned that when Rizal was deported by the Spanish government to Dapitan in Mindanao from 1892 to 1896, he was also engaged in medical practice, aside from being a teacher.
One of Rizal’s patients at that time was Calixto Carreon whose eye ailment was cured by the National Hero.
The story said that Calixto, as a form of payment, offered the 40-hectare land he owned to Rizal.
Dr. Jose Rizal accepted the offer, but he offered P200 as additional payment.
Eventually, Rizal designated one of his sisters, Trinidad, to manage the farm.
After several years, Trinidad designated Fernando Equia, one of the students of Rizal to manage the farm.
In the marker that was installed by the National Historical Institute (NHI) in the area, it was stated that Trinidad sold the land to Crisostomo Eguia Sr., son of Fernando.
As witnessed by the other siblings of Rizal, it was agreed that after the sale, the land would still continue to be registered under the name of Jose Rizal.
Today, Crisostomo Eguia Sr. continues to live at the farm, but its management and development is already under the care of his children.
Bugante said her office is currently in touch with the Eguia family to encourage them to develop the area into a full tourist destination.
At present, there are no facilities available that would cater to the needs of the visitors, especially those who would decide to stay for a night or two.
“We’ve been encouraging them to develop the area similar to other resort farms in the country,” Bugante said.
The family has yet to decide on the tourism office’s proposal, she added.
Bugante also said that other things belonging to Rizal, most are clothes, are still in the farm and being kept by the family of Equia.
Bugante said that during the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal, his belongings were displayed in Katipunan town for public viewing.
Meanwhile, the DOT-9 is intensifying its drive to market the tourism sites in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, among them is the heritage that Dr. Jose P. Rizal left in the area.