ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – More than P100 million have been poured in development projects in Dapitan City in the southern Philippines, where the country’s national hero Dr Jose Rizal was exiled by the Spaniards in 1982.
Known as the «Shrine City of the Philippines,» Dapitan is now fast becoming a major tourist destination in the Philippines, a former Spanish colony.
Mayor Dominador Jalosjos Jr., said they are developing sites where Rizal had first landed and already spent more than P3 million for the project located along Sunset Boulevard. He said they still need P25 million more to complete the project.
While in exile, Rizal – who was implicated in a rebellion against the Spanish government in the Philippines — built a school, a hospital and a water supply system in Dapitan. Yellow Lingerie
Rizal spent his last four years in exile in Dapitan. His original estate in Dapitan has been declared a national shrine and is being administered by the National Historical Institute, hence, the city moniker, «Shrine City of the Philippines.»
By the year 2020, Dapitan is poised to become the Dr. Jose Rizal Heritage Center of the Philippines, owing to the wealth of Rizal memorabilia and memorable places associated with the hero.
“We are planning to conduct a unique and the one and only activity about Rizal’s life,” Jalosjos said, even as they have yet to decide whether to make the dates of Rizal’s arrival or departure significant with the foreseen completion date of the project.
Jalosjos said it would be followed by the development of the famous boulevard and construction of a 20-kilometer road connecting it to the major thoroughfares in the city.
Owners of the “Gloria de Dapitan,” which stood on a three-hectare lot along Sunset Boulevard, have earmarked another P100 million fresh investments for the expansion of the commercial and a leisure park.
The prime commercial complex of Dapitan City, “Gloria de Dapitan” was opened on December 3, 2005. “Gloria de Dapitan” houses various business establishments including sports and recreational amenities.
It features among others a full air-conditioned 8-lane bowling center, a gym computer arcade, internet café, billiards and dart halls, disco pub, coffee shop and bakery, a high-salon, boutique, souvenir shops, pharmacy, foreign exchange and various food outlets.
It also boasts of side attractions like the carousels, bump cars and a carnival, all within the fenced perimeter with parking area monitored by 24-hour security.
Maria Consuelo Locop, general manager of the “Gloria de Dapitan,” said part of the expansion is the construction of two 300-seater cinemas with a huge supermarket at the basement. Locop said they would also add 10 more lanes to the Exodus Bowlodrome to qualify for the hosting of the duckpin bowling national tournament.
Emilio Ubando Jr., local tourism officer, said pension houses have began expanding their establishments to accommodate more visitors.
Vice Mayor Patri Chan has laid down the annual plan for the series of activities for the Kinabayo and Handuraw Festivals. Chan said these activities, observed annually from July 19-25, will lure tourists to stay longer in the city.
«Whenever tourists come, we have tour packages ready for them and so they stay longer in Dapitan and enjoy the serene beauty of the beaches, the good food and friendly people. Our place is truly a paradise,” Chan said.
He said the Kinabayo Festival, a revelry that attracts thousands of Catholic devotees, tourists and Filipinos abroad back home, is the most awaited of all the festivities in Dapitan because of its religious past.
Councilor Apple Marie Agolong, chairperson of the City Council’s tourism committee, oversees major events of the annual celebration in an effort to promote the local tourism industry.
Agolong said locals and tourists flock Dapitan yearly because of famous Christian festival “Patnunob” at St. James Church followed by the “Sinug” procession that goes around the city.
Dapitan is a 2nd class city with a population of 68,178, according to the 2000 Census. The largely Catholic city is politically divided into 50 villages.(Allan Gail Carlos)