Dapitan, located in Zamboanga del Norte, is the Shrine City of the Philippines. It is known as the place of exile of Dr. Jose Rizal. A lot of historical sites can be explored in a day since most of the spots are just walking distances apart.
From Dipolog City airport, you can ride a tricycle going to the terminal. Fare is Php50 each and one trip can accommodate 5-6 pax. Upon arriving at the terminal, look for Evergood bus bound to Dapitan. It is a 45-minute trip and the fare is only Php20. You may opt to ride habal-habal from the airport to Dapitan. Fare is around Php150 depending on your haggling skill. Tell the driver to drop you at Dapitan City Plaza. And from there, you may start your tour around the city.
•Dapitan City Plaza – a statue of Rizal is placed at the center of the plaza, giving tribute to his contributions to the place. You can also find a relief map of Mindanao, which was the Rizal’s idea and design.
•St. James Church – located just beside the Plaza. Rizal attended mass here during his exile in Dapitan, he had to stand outside the church as he was excommunicated during that time.
•Ilihan Hill – behind the church is a hill top, giving you a view of Dapitan City. It is around 200 steps before you reach the top, bring water as it is very hot in the trail.
•Rizal’s Landing Site – still a walking distance from the Plaza, but if you’re already tired you can ride a tricycle for Php8 each. It is located along Sunset Boulevard, where Rizal’s ship docked when they arrived in Dapitan.
•Historic Houses – there are lots of preserved historical houses around the city. The most prominent is the pink house called Corazon de Dapitan. They now sell cakes and pastries and has “Duterte’s Kitchen” inside.
•Rizal Shrine – a day in Dapitan would not be complete if you didn’t visit the Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape. Ride a tricycle from the Plaza, fare is Php8.
Admission is free, and it feels like going back to our history. You may opt to have a tour guide and just pay them a tip or you can explore the place on your own.
Near the entrance is the two-storey museum, a review of Rizal’s life and the story during his exile in Dapitan.
There are also nipa huts around, and the most picturesque is the octagonal house – the Casa Redonda. It is the first house you can see from the gate.
Near the boulevard is a large rock, in which Rizal wrote his famous poem “Mi Retiro“. The place is not that huge and you can spend an hour or two to explore it.
•Napo Beach Resort – instead of having a day tour in Dakak, which is Php1,000, why not try to visit the white beach resort in Brgy. Napo. Tell the tricycle driver to drop you at the habal-habal terminal in fish port. Habal-habal driver will bring you to the Napo beach, it’s up to you on how much will you pay them. For this trip, I paid Php200 for round trip service.
It is a 30-minute ride before you reach the beach. Entrance fee is Php10 for adult while children are free to enjoy the place. There are also cottages ranging from Php300 to Php500 depending on the size of the group, or you can just rent a table for Php100 since there are trees to protect you from the sun. I opted not to rent a cottage and just walk around the resort.
•Gloria’s Fantasyland – you may also want to experience a magical night in Dapitan. Ride a tricycle from the Plaza, fare is Php10. For those who booked an overnight package in Dakak, unlimited rides is already included.
Gate opens at 4:00 PM and will be closing by 12:00 AM, rides start at 6:00 PM and the show starts at around 9:00 PM. Fireworks display is the highlight of Fantasyland experience. That night is like a festival, so much fun and excitement, a great way to end a day in Dapitan.
For overnight stay, below are recommended accommodations:
GV Hotels, Dipolog – tel no. 908-06-84, aircon room starts at Php500
Monina’s, Dapitan – tel no. 213-68-67, aircon room starts at Php500
“We are not makers of history, we are made by history.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.