Why Dapitan should be on your travel bucket list

Cheryl Baldicantos

Posted at Jul 29 2017 12:15 PM

DAPITAN CITY - Dapitan has already made its mark in history. 

This isle of abundant green in the northeastern wing of Mindanao was where national hero Dr. Jose Rizal was once exiled. This is where he furthered his medical career by operating on his mother’s eyes, and where he built a relationship with his common-law wife, the Irish woman Josephine Bracken.

More than a century later, Dapitan is now a bustling city, where residents can enjoy urban pleasures such as going to the mall, watching movies and eating at restaurants at Gloria de Dapitan, which also has a theme park named Fantasyland that features a roller coaster, a horror house and a walking dinosaur!

Another must-visit place here is Dakak Park and Beach Resort. For a long time now, busloads of tourists have been coming here to spend a few nights or even just a day. Here, a white sand beach in a hidden cove serves as a quick respite from city life. 

But those longing for an island feel of white sand and blue waters should go beyond Dakak and onto the Selinog and Aliguay islands. Imagine Boracay without the foot traffic.

The area's rich underwater life has also been a come-on for both local and foreign tourists. In fact, the city recently joined the Dive Resort and Travel Show in Beijing. 

According to tourism officer Apple Marie Agolong, Dapitan City had around 1.17 million visitors in 2016. But tourist arrivals have gone down since martial law took effect in the whole island of Mindanao after clashes erupted between state troops and terrorists in Marawi City more than two months ago.

This hasn't stopped Dapitan City from celebrating its annual feast to honor Señor Santiago or St. James the Greater. Ongoing until July 31 are religious, cultural and sports events. 

In this city where almost everything could be viewed from a nearby hilltop, the peace that Rizal once found still remains. 

Jose Rizal's home in Dapitan is a top tourist destination. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

Punto del Desembarco is a historical marker placed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to indicate the spot where Jose P. Rizal disembarked to begin his life in exile. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

The swimming pool at Dakak Park and Beach Resort. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

The white sand beach of Dakak Park and Beach Resort. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

The white sand beach of Dakak Park and Beach Resort. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

The white sand beach of Dakak Park and Beach Resort. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

Aliguay Island. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

Lechon. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

Seafood aplenty. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

Fruits at a local market. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos

Fantasyland. Photo by Cheryl Baldicantos