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.
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 Dapitan.com 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.