My friend, how’s your summer? I hope you have maximize this season to worship the sun more and explore our beautiful Philippines. Have you even gone to one of your dream destination? I hope you do.
Of all the major islands in the Philippines, Mindanao intrigues me most for I have not been to that place. Though I almost booked a flight there, but I kept on holding back due to news of their unstable peace and order. But last year in December, I took advantage of Philippine Airlines’ promotion on their flights going to Mindanao. After trying my luck, discounted fares to Dipolog City was still available. So I grabbed the chance and booked for 2 for me and B’s getaway for April 2014. I grabbed this once because of the commercial I just watched on one of the popular noontime shows in our country where they show a beach that reminds me of my childhood. When I was still a kid and fond of watching Eat Bulaga, I kept on seeing Dakak Beach Resort’s commercial. I recall that all of my sibling, including me, were amazed by its beauty and told ourselves that we will go there once we grow up.
Zamboanga Del Norte or ZaNorte is the largest province of Zamboanga Peninsula in terms of land area. Tagged as the Gateway to Mindanao, this province is better known for its city named Dapitan – where our national hero was put on exile.
(NOTE: Dr. Jose Rizal is the Philippines’ National Hero. For more information about him, please click on here)
We first planned of hiring a tour guide since B and I were unfamiliar with the place. We are also concern about our safety because of the impression that we have that Mindanao is not a safe place. But we were wrong. Dipolog and Dapitan City are so walkable, accessible and peaceful!
Though the airport is in Dipolog City, the city of Dapitan has more to offer. That is why we choose a place at Dapitan. For us, we highly recommend Home Sweet Home by the Bay Pension House.
The place is at the famous Sunset Boulevard facing the sea. The building itself seems to be a big bungalow turned into a Pension House by Mr. and Mrs. Hamoy. We arranged for an airport pick-up and it was the owner, Mrs. Linda Hamoy, who picked us up with her new Fortuner.
Inside the house, you will feel that it was once a lovely home full of decorative plates of places in Asia and Europe. It turns out that the Hamoy couple were once envoys of the Philippines to other countries! Since B and I were both devoted Catholics, we highly appreciate the Marian image we saw. I love the garden and the lanai outside were you can sit and appreciate the instant view of the sea and its sunset.
We chose the blue room which only cost us 1000 per night, including breakfast. It was huge with a working aircon and our own clean bathroom with hot & cold shower. Truly this place is a home away from home. Mrs. Hamoy was so caring that we feel like she’s our aunt or our mother during our stay. The place and the warmth of their owner really deserves its sweet name.
RIZAL IN DAPITAN
Touring the city is very easy. Their common mode of transportation is the tricycle with a minimum rate of 7 pesos. But the very first place we visit was just a few walks away from our hotel and that is the Punta de Desembarco de Rizal.
It is said that this was the landing place of Rizal when he was sent by the Spaniards for his exile. They chose this place due to the presence of Jesuits.
After waiting and riding a tricycle, we went to Rizal Shrine.
This is place that Rizal bought with the money he won from the lottery. He built his clinic, house and water system here. Our guide (we forgot his name) was very knowledgeable and friendly. Though we learned a lot from him, the place needs to be taken care of more especially their building which houses their museum. It seems that the Department of Tourism and its local Government left this place out.
Next was to go to the City Plaza to see the Mindanao Map made by Rizal. When we went to that place, we can only see the grass map but the tags were no longer visible. Again, another evidence of a forgotten heritage. After this, we just turn around and visited St. James Cathedral.
This was the place where Rizal stands in one corner and hear Mass every Sunday. I love old churches! I love the place even more when we saw a friendly beagle roaming at the altar. She approached us when B called him!
After saying our thanksgiving prayer, we roamed around to see Casa Real which is at the side of the church. We thought we can go inside but it turns out that it was close and now being used as a Government office.
Our next agenda is to buy pasalubong. Based on some blogs we read, Spanish Sardines are the best at ZaNorte. Montaño’s Sardines is a popular one but it is located in Dipolog. When we asked tricycle drivers to take us there, they asked for a huge price. When we asked Mrs. Linda for it, she volunteered to take us there for free! She said she will also go to that city so it’s not a hassle. AWW!!! She was so sweet!
DIPOLOG CITY’S SARDINES
Mrs. Linda Hamoy dropped us at where we can buy the famous Spanish Sardines. Prices here varies depending on the kind of sardines you will buy. If you buy in bulk, they will provide a box for you so it can be easily checked in at the airport without the worry of breaking the glass bottle.
After buying one box each, we took a bus to go back to Home Sweet Home and call it a day.
Dapitan is a very safe city. The place is laid back that you will be relaxed with its serenity. The people were charming and helpful that the negative impression that I have with the island of Mindanao disappeared in an instant. Thanks to the warmth of the Bisayas in Zamboanga most especially to Mrs. Linda Hamoy.
This is just the first part of our Dapitan tour. Wait for my next post about our beach getaway. Again, I am more than willing to answer your questions about our experience in Dapitan City.