Romancing Dapitan City-A A +A
As I See It
Saturday, October 13, 2012
I WAS there and it is really beautiful. I go with Dr. Jose Rizal who lived there for four years. "It is located on a beautiful bay which looks towards the west, on a kind of island especially made for it as if to isolate it from the vulgar world."
The Rizal Shrine is the major historical landmark of Dapitan. Our hero was exiled there from 1892 up to 1896. He won in a lottery draw and he purchased a 16-hectare lot. He put up his main house, hospital aqueduct and other facilities. The local government has erected a Rizaliana, repository of books, historical exhibits, and other things related to Rizal-blackboard, sculptured pieces of art, even trousers.
The “Punto del Desembarco de Rizal” marks the spot where Rizal first set foot. It has an area of 1,500 square meters with five bronze ten-feet tall larger-than-life human statues and a boat. The figures are Dr. Rizal, Capt. Delgras and the three artillery men carrying 'farol de combate' to light their way up to Casa Real.
There was also the heritage house built in 1900's owned by Don Aniano Adasa. The St. James Cathedral is an edifice that has withstood the test of time and an example of Spanish colonial architecture. Rizal used to stand near the baptismal font while attending the mass. Dapitan has scenic mountain sides, rivers, caves, white beaches and bays.
In the heart of the city stands a modern leisure complex, Gloria de Dapitan, which houses the first theme park in the entire Visayas and Mindanao. We were there and all ATOP delegates were given free tickets for the rides. I preferred the 5D cinema and the fantasyland version of ‘Once Upon A Time.” It has the best Horror House in Asia. I did not go inside. I don't want to see the faces of my friends there.
The Silay group was the first to get inside the beautiful office of Mayor Patri Bajamunde-Chan. The new city hall is an example of new architecture. It is a head turner standing along the banks of Dapitan River. It has three domed edifice towers. The 3-story building with appurtenances and fixtures was built on a 160 million-peso budget from the city's coffer. Dapitan is rich!
We stayed for two days at Dakak. The powdery white sand and the clear, cool water reminded me of Boracay in 1970. Other attractions include dolphin and whale watching in Aliguay and Selinog Islands. Bird watching could be done at Liboran and Polo. Bayli-mango and Casang have a hundred hectare mangrove forest. Dapitan has 10 rich marine sanctuaries ideal for snorkeling and diving.
Your eyes could feast to a variety of rare macro invertebrates like mudibranch and other marine organisms. There is also a multitude of reef fishes from triggerfish to parrotfish or wrasses. Dapitan also boasts of its firefly watching attraction, 1364-meter long zipline (the longest in Asia), and the good food which I have yet to discover. The mayor's dogma for progress is "Mas Asenso Dapitan". Dapitan is gearing up for world class development. It is not just a Shrine City. It is a safe haven for naturalists.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 13, 2012.