Dapitan + Dipolog: your guide to exploring the twin city

Sardines bottling
Sardines bottling

On Valentine's Day 2014, I first stepped foot in Dapitan and Dipolog, the twin cities of Zamboanga del Norte. Unlike Jose Rizal, who was exiled in Dapitan in July 1892, it was a short (but sweet) stay for me. But perhaps like Rizal, I saw there was so much to love about the place. Before leaving, I said “Ta ama yo contigo Zamboanga! I bid you not with an “ultimo adios” but with a “hasta la vista.”

Promise fulfilled. Eight years later, I entered the “Gateway to Western Mindanao” again, this time to re-experience its heritage, culture and arts, and see what’s new after eight years since the first visit.

If you haven’t been to Dipolog and Dapitan, here are 15 reasons why it should be on your travel bucket list.

Dipolog, the "Gateway to Western Mindanao.” is also known for its wild orchids and a lucrative sardine industry that earned the city the title of "Bottled Sardines Capital of the Philippines.”

1. Dipolog Sunset Boulevard is a perfect place to be at Golden Hour—any spot along the 7.6-kilometer esplanade offers a good point of view for the setting sun. Stay towards the evening and watch the parallel property turn into the city’s most happening spot attracting locals and tourists. Grab a bite and enjoy the entertainment! It's the site of the annual P'gsalubok Festival and other major events in the city. The latest addition to the stretch? The “Explore Dipolog” landmark, erected in 2019.

Address: Spanning from Ranillo Street, Bgy. Central (North end) to Dipolog City Port, Barangay. Galas (South end), Dipolog City

2. The oldest landmark in Dipolog city is the 1905-built Santa Cruz Marker. A towering cross was erected on the spot where the arriving migrants from Bohol safely landed. They settled close to the mouth of Dipolog River.

Address: Rizal Avenue and Martinez Street intersection, Dipolog City

3. Old churches are always fascinating and Dipolog has one, the 1894-built Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, aka Dipolog Cathedral. It has seen several renovations with the 2009 facelift as the most recent. Points of interest are its hardwood ceiling with the basrelief of the four Evangelists and the altar, a replica of Dr. Jose Rizal’s original retablo design.

Address: P. Ramon Street, Dipolog City

4. Right across the church is the Plaza Magsaysay, where the Orchid Pavilion stands. The pavilion’s design is inspired by the local orchid, Pangadlaw, a symbol of Dipolog.

Address: Bordered by P. Ramon, Bonifacio and Herrera Streets, Dipolog City

5. Across Plaza Magsaysay is the monument of Three Prominent Dipolognons. It pays tribute to the people that shaped the city: Pascual Tan Martinez, the first appointed Mayor of Dipolog; Rev. Fr. Nicasio Yebes Patangan, the first Filipino Diocesan Priest of Mindanao; and Eugenio Redulla Margate, a farmer for 25 years who introduced the Margate System of Planting Rice.

Address: Rizal Avenue corner Herrera Street, Dipolog City

6. What’s new? The Museo Dipolog shares the property with the Three Prominent Dipolognons monument. It occupies the former 1913-completed Dipolog City Hall, once the seat of the local government. The building houses a museum, the public library, art gallery and function halls. One of the prominent artworks on display in the replica of the P’gsalabuk Circle Fountain of Blessings, the next item on this list.

Address: Rizal Avenue corner Herrera Street, Dipolog City

7. There’s another trio at the P’gsalubok Circle (P’gsalabuk means “togetherness" in Subanen). The “Fountain of Blessings” has three statues lifting a cauldron. The figures represent the three cultures prevailing in Dipolog, Subanen, Muslims and Christians, raising an offering to the heavens as a thanksgiving gesture for the blessings, bountiful harvest and peace and prosperity.

Address: Dipolog-Polanco-Oroquieta Road and General Luna Street junction, Dipolog City

8. Casa Bernedo is a century-old house owned by the Bernedo family that was converted into a small museum. In 2012, the house was developed into the Center for Culture and the Arts. Today, it also houses the Dipolog Tourism Office.

Address: Arellano corner Ranillo streets, Dipolog City

9. The Spanish Style Sardines Processing Center at the Dipolog School of Fisheries Food Products and the Demo Farm of the Department of Agriculture are both interesting stops as well. It can give a peek into the famous bottled sardines industry of Dipolog and the emerging vegetable enterprise of the city.

Address: Olingan, Dipolog City

Dapitan, the “Shrine capital of the Philippines,” was where the Philippines’ National Hero spent four years of his life in exile. Rizal made sure his time and many skills—as physician, educator, engineer, artist, etc.— were put to good use. Today, the city’s vibe is still pulsing with everything Rizal, and where the hero left his mark, a landmark stands.

10. Punto Del Desembarco de Rizal en Dapitan, the 10-foot shrine, marks the spot where Dr. Jose Rizal first set foot in Dapitan on July 17, 1892.

Address: Sunset Boulevard, Barangay Dawo, Dapitan City

11. St. James the Greater Church was where Rizal heard mass every Sunday during his exile. A marker by the entrance shows where Rizal stood during the service. It is said that as excommunicado by the Catholic Church, he is “excluded from the sacraments of the church,” and perhaps he wasn’t permitted to be part of the seated congregation, too. The original structure had galvanized iron walls and wooden floors. The present day Church is a product of several facelifts and reconstructions, with the swirling design of the orange and white-tiled dome ceiling as the building’s most notable feature.

Address: Corner F. Sanchez and Gov. R. Camicero streets, Dapitan City

12. Fronting the St. James Church, within the Dapitan City Plaza, is the 900-sqm Relief Map of Mindanao designed by Rizal. It was created to beautify the town plaza and serve as a teaching tool in history and geography. According to the descendants of a Dapitanon with close relations to Rizal, he may have envisioned making the relief of a complete Philippine map, but tasks run aplenty in an active mind like Rizal’s.

Address: Dapitan City Plaza, Corner F. Sanchez and Gov. R. Camicero streets, Dapitan City

13. The 16-hectare Rizal Park and Shrine, the major historical landmark in Dapitan, stands on a property Rizal bought with money he won in a lottery. The property holds a museum (detailing his life and works), the replicas of his home, medical clinic, pupil’s dormitory and workshop, Rizal and Josephine Bracken’s heart-shaped Mi Retiro love rock, an aqueduct he and his pupils constructed, an amphitheater and the now-century old tree he planted.

Address: Barangay Talisay, Dapitan City

14. Balay Hamoy Museum is the most recent addition to Dapitan’s attractions. The 1893-built Balay Hamoy was a gift to Dapitanon newlyweds Don Mariano Balsamo Hamoy and Doña Maria Pilar Acaylar Sagario. Dr. Jose Rizal was a good friend of Don Mariano and a frequent guest in his house.

Restored to its original state in 2020 preserving the 90% of the original wooden structure that used Narra, Tugas and Molave, it was opened to the public on July 25, 2022. The upper floor functions as a museum containing artifacts and memorabilia of the former residents while the lower level, which was once a garage, is now an elegant dining hall that accommodates special dinner arrangements with a menu that contains Dr. Jose Rizal’s favorite local dishes.

Address: 143 Mi Retiro Street, Dapitan City

15. Glorious Fantasyland was "Fantasyland in Gloria de Dapitan" in the past. Along with name change, Dapitan’s famous theme park (Think: Universal Studios) has expanded its attractions to include the Parade of Lights, Lakbay Pinas (local version of “It’s a Small World” that features Philippines sites) and Snow World, among others. It’s more “gloriously” exciting!

Address: Sunset Boulevard, Barangay Dawo, Dapitan City

Foor more travel stories, visit www.jeepneyjinggoy.com

For lifestyle stories, visit www.dduriandialy.com

Follow The Commuter on Instagram & Facebook.


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.