My life has been greatly influenced by the life, works and writings of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. I started reading with great enthusiasm the comics version of his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in my elementary days and read the full version of such novels and other Rizal writings in high school. Modesty aside, I got an excellent mark in the college-day Rizal subject for fully digesting that the 64-chapters Noli is a romantic novel, a work of the heart, a book of feeling as it has freshness, color, humor, lightness, and wit while the 38-chapters Fili is a political novel, a work of the head and a book of the thought which contains bitterness, hatred, pain, violence, and sorrow. Nowadays, I hold the record of holding a number of volumes of Rizaliana books in our island town of Socorro in Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte, Philippines.
When I was still a child, I dreamed of joining in heritage tours and visit the places prominently mentioned in the diaries of Rizal. It was only in 1998 that I was able to accomplish the first leg of my heritage tours by visiting the Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila where he was incarcerated by the Spaniards before being shot to death on December 30, 1896 at the Bagumbayan Field, now the Luneta Park in Manila. In the year 1999, I made the second leg of my heritage tours by travelling to the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna where the Philippine national hero was born. The next heritage tours destination was supposed to be the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City where he was banished for a period of four years due to his subversive views against the abusive Spanish government officials and hypocritical friars and for being critical to the more than 300 years of Spanish rule of the Philippines.
Due to my hectic schedules, my heritage tours to the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan was relegated to the background. It was only when I learned from Ivan Henares that Rizal and Travel was chosen as theme for the June 2011 Blog Carnival to honor Dr. Jose Rizal on his 150th Birth Anniversary come June 19 that my interest to pursue with my unfinished heritage tours was resurrected. Ecstatic to submit my maiden entry to the blog carnival as I became a member of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers only recently, I decided to visit Dapitan.
From Surigao City, Philippines, I chose to travel by land all the way to Mukas Port in Kolambogan, Lanao del Norte, took the barge for Ozamiz City, travelled again by land to Barangay Lorenzo Tan, Tangub City, Misamis Occidental and chose to stay overnight at the head office of Lorenzo Tan Multi-Pupose Cooperative (LTMPC), one of the largest cooperatives operating in Mindano Island, Philippines under the abbotship of my good friend Ben Canama. From Tangub City, I travelled by private car for more than three hours making short stops at various tourist destinations of the province until I reached Dapitan, a small but progressive city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, northwestern part of Mindanao Island, Philippines.
While traversing the national highway adjacent to the shorelines of Dapitan City, I signalled the driver to stop as my eyes were glued at this attraction . . .
While standing still in front of the bronze statues, a pretty lady named Jenylen Hontiveros approached me and introduced herself as the tour guide assigned by the city government to entertain heritage tours visitors making a stop in such a national historical landmark. Jen had provided me substantial bits of information which reinforced my knowledge about Rizal’s travel in Dapitan.
After exchanging pleasantries with the tour giuide, I travelled on foot tracing the route of Rizal and company until I reached this place . . .
The Casa Real was the official residence and administration building of Don Ricardo Carnicero, the Politico-Military Governor of the District whereJose Rizal lived as an exile from July 17, 1892 to March, 1893.
I felt excited upon seeing the entry point leading to the Map of Mindanao built by Rizal with its corresponding marker. . .
Truly, I felt nostalgic when I saw the marker inside the St. James Parish Church where Rizal used to stand while attending church mass to evade from the watchful eyes of the priest who always delivered invective sermons against him for his thoughts on religious freedom. Moreover, I found interest in taking a close-up photo of the Rizal monument at the heart of the Dapitan Plaza as it resembles that of the monument of the national hero in my island town of Socorro . . .
I then told the driver to proceed to our next heritage tours destination- the Rizal Shrine in Barangay Talisay. After an approximately two kilometres ride, we reached the 16 hectares estate of Dr. Jose P. Rizal which he purchased out of a portion of his winnings of the Manila Lottery. The gate signage and the Rizal Museum were the first sights captured by my keen eyes in the shrine. . .
Being an avid collector of Rizaliana items, savoring the exhibits inside the Rizaliana Museum is for me, more than hitting a gold mine. Candidly, there was an unexplainable feeling deep inside me while looking at Rizal’s original clothing carefully preserved in glass caskets, the blackboard and desk he used in his boys’ school, reproduction of his sculptures (Triumph of Science Over Death, A Dapitan Girl and Prometeus Bound), paintings, and select manuscripts (Himno A Talisay, Mi Retiro – A Mi Madre and A Josefina).
Afterwards, I proceeded to the next heritage tours destination- the Casa Residencia, replica of the house of Rizal…
Pushed by curiosity, I strolled around the shrine and took pictures of the Water System and the Casa Cuadrada. . .
And also the Rizal Kitchen and Casa Redonda . . .
As I strolled further in other parts of the Rizal Shrine, I was attracted by a a rock which occupied a prominent space in the shrine only to know that it was the Mi Retiro Rock prominently mentioned in Rizal’s memoirs . . .
Heritage Tours – Final Thoughts
My heritage tours to the historic Dapitan to savor and experience Rizal Shrine, which is a national shrine and national historical landmark, and observe the diligent lifestyle led by the Philippine National Hero through the rebuilt structures of his nipa hut residence, dam and waterworks, hospital and dormitory was worth the money, time and efforts. Keeping an eye on, and having first hand information of, the fruits of Rizal’s four productive years in the field of medicine, agriculture, entrepreneurship, education, science, engineering, architecture, poetry and arts in that frontier town done to ease his solitude and improve the Dapitanon’s lives while in exile are priceless pursuits that a history buff and heritage tours aficionado like you should not miss doing yourself in the near future.
This Heritage Tours blog post is my maiden entry to the Blog Carnival of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers in honor of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s 150th Birthday with the theme Rizal and Travel hosted by Ivan Henares of Ivan About Town.