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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Would you like to be exiled to Dapitan?

Figure it out: What was it like to be deported and exiled 115 years ago, when there were no telephone, malls, family, friends and just going there would take you days? And your only link to the world was through a snail mail, which perhaps you could not even depend upon because you fear that, perhaps, the Spaniards were prying into your letters to Josephine Bracken or Ferdinand Blumentritt.

Being deported and exiled to Dapitan (which is even within the Philippines) at that time was, perhaps, an already mind-boggling experience. I would also surmise that it was already a brutal and severe punishment to anybody who would be filibustering against Spain. More than a punishment, the Spanish friars isolated Rizal in that remote town in Mindanao and tried to nip the bud, thinking that he would keep his mum and not be able to lift a finger on the burgeoning rebellion of Filipinos against Spain.

But Rizal must have been laughing at the Spanish friars then. I myself would do the same. The people are nice. The place is clean. The environment is just loveable--even up to this day, 115 years after. Rizal was just so clever that instead of sulking in his nipa hut and wallow in misery for his deportation, he kept himself occupied with so many things to use up his supposedly idle time.

For an urbanized person like him, he would surely find himself having a difficulty adjusting. But reading historical notes about his exile, and having experienced Dapitan myself for a number of times, Rizal never had a hard time communing with the Dapitanons.

Perhaps, one of the reasons why Rizal [supposedly] enjoyed his exile in Dapitan, (aside from the fact that he busied himself in community development--was he also a development worker like me?), is the fact that Dapitan is a beautiful place. Aside from the beautiful landscape, lush vegetation, fresh and mouth-watering seafoods, and warm and amiable people, one of the best things about Dapitan is its sunset.

In one of my trips to Dapitan, and after enduring an equally delightful boat ride to and from Selinog Island (or Dapitanons say Sulinog) we took some refreshment in one of the restaurants along the beach where we also held a short meeting about our recent trip on how we could further develop the community in the island. In the middle of the meeting, I was in awe with what I saw—the sunset was so colorful and beautiful that I ended up calling for a break just to record the scenery in my camera.

Rizal’s favorite spot in Dapitan was the Mi Retiro rock. And just like Rizal, I could imagine myself every afternoon, sitting on the Retiro Rock and waiting for the sunset.

I consider Dapitan to be one of the most livable cities in the country and if I have my way, I would definitely live there longer than Rizal did for four years.

Photo I took in the middle of a meeting at a seaside resto in Dapitan

Playing dogs at dusk

Rizal's House in Dapitan

Backtrack: In July 1892, Rizal was deported to Dapitan due to his implication in the nascent rebellion againt Mother Spain. His exile, however, was not put to naught by keeping himself busy building a school, a hospital, water supply system, engaged in farming and horticulture. He also taught science to his pupils.

On July 31, 1896, Rizal left Dapitan with a heavy heart. As aptly puts it:

As the steamer pushed out into the sea, Rizal gazed for the last time on Dapitan waving in farewell salute to its kind and hospitable folks and with a crying heart filled with tears of nostalgic memories. When he could no longer see the dim shoreline, he sadly went to his cabin and wrote in his diary: "I have been in that district four years, thirteen days, and a few hours".

This month of July marks the 115th anniversary of Rizal's exile in Dapitan.

This blog entry is also posted at: PinoyBlogoSphere and Mindanao Bloggers

7 people have commented. Leave your comments too!:

thanks for this very timely reminder! i often just think of rizal as The Hero- but fail to recognize his work in the realm of social development, beyond rhetoric and fisticuffs- intellectual and otherwise.

mabuhay ang lahat ng mga kasamang nagsisikap para sa pagbabagong panlipunan, tumutulong sa pag-angat ng bansa- bagaman paisa-isang pamayanan lang sa ngayon =]

Doc Ian,

Thanks for dropping by. I never realized Rizal was a development worker like me, until I wrote about Dapitan as one of the most beautiful places that I like. If in the development arena, there are people at the far end of the spectrum, Rizal was in the middle, who prefers to commune and tried to solve the problems right at the community level. In a way, he preached what he taught (unlike the present advocates now who would rather yap in the streets, but have never really made an impact in teh lives of the poor.

A little appropriate trivia, this letter from Rizal during his stay in Dapitan:

One of the 14 boys (students of his) mentioned in the letter was Marcial Borromeo, who was the maternal grandfather of one of my first cousins.

Lolo Marcial used to come to our place and regale us with stories about his teacher, Rizal, during his stay in Dapitan, Zamboanga. Now, how I wish I had written some of the narratives that he so longingly related to us!

Amadeo-Thanks for dropping by! Well, aren't you honored about that? Please do write about it! I am sure many of your readers will be delighted to read about them.

I am the grandson of Marcial Borromeo and would like to get in touch with "Amadeo", who wrote "One of the 14 boys (students of his) mentioned in the letter was Marcial Borromeo, who was the maternal grandfather of one of my first cousins." I can be reached via email at Thank you.

@ Mr. Borromeo, you can get in touch with Amadeo via his blog. I hope you can find each other.

My apologies for the very late reply.



Of course, I know Rene, brother to Gemma. But he knows me by my nickname, Tatoy.

We both used to live in California. Now I believe he has moved to another Western state.

Rene, you can click on my name here and it will bring you to my blog.

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