Friday, July 01, 2011

The Rizal Challenge

Our national hero plus a chance to explore our country? Like!

To celebrate his 150th year, the Department of Tourism, the Heritage Conservation Society, the Intramuros Administration, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Parks Development Committee came up with the Rizal @ 150 Heritage Trail Project.  

Basically, you are asked to be a "Rizal pilgrim" and follow his trail, by getting a  passport and having it stamped in the chosen places that proved significant to our national hero (27 stamps). Prizes are available, once you've completed and it's been verified, within a year. 

We've decided to take the challenge. Now, whether we'll be able to finish this in a year, I don't know but I intend to have my passport with all the stamps displayed on the wall some day.

It was a stroke of luck that in one of my  stalk-Cebu-Pacific-website-for-promo-tickets moment last August, I managed to book my husband and I,  less than P700 round trip tickets for two to Dipolog. Scheduled for June 22 till 25 it was the perfect way to start our Rizal Heritage trail challenge.

Unable to get Rizal passports at the Fort Santiago during the 150th year festivities (they ran out by the time we got there), I called up the Office of Product Research & Development of the Department of Tourism (523-1930, 526-7545 and 524-2254) and was informed that I could get passports from the Dipolog Tourism Board. And we did! We got there just as they were having their lunch break but they were nice enough to entertain us. We got our first stamp downstairs for the Dipolog Cathedral. (Tricycle fare is P7, fyi)

Stamp # 1: Dipolog Cathedral: Rizal is said to have designed the church altas of the Dipolog Cathedral. Athough the faced has been extremely renovated, the interior remains relatively intact. (Captions from Rizal Passport)

For Stamp # 2 - we asked the tricyle driver to take us to the terminal so we could get a ride to Katipunan. (Jeepneys and buses ply the routes outside of the city.) Our super islaw trike driver drove sloooowly but surely and once he found out where we were headed, stopped the jeepney going to Kalayaan (kasi daw if we went inside the terminal it would take us another 30 minutes of waiting) and forced (ay, encouraged pala) the passengers to play rigodon so we could squeeze in. Jeepney fare to Katipunan is around P26 ata. (Sorry, I pocketed the change without counting it). Once we got to the Katipunan plaza, we had our passport stamped at the Tourism site and then proceeded to the farm that was the site of Rizal's presence there.  (Distance of Katipunan from Dipolog, 20 minutes. To get from Kalayaan town proper to farm, you need to ride a single, around 5 minutes away)
Rizal Farm - Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte
The farm was acquired by Rizal from Calixto Carreon, a blind patient who offered it for free out of gratitude for his successful treatment. Rizal refused and paid him P200 for the land. He cultivated it every weekend with his pupils.
Stamp # 3 - Left Dipolog early morning to catch a Everlast bus at the terminal bound for Dapitan (fare P25., travel time, 30 minutes, change in bus conductors, around 4) and headed straight to the Rizal Shrine.
Rizal Shrine and Waterworks of Rizal - Barangay Talisay, Dapitan City
Rizal's estate in Dapitan houses replicas of structures he built there for himself, his family, pupils and patients. Rizal purchased the property with his winnings from the Manila lottery. 

Stamp # 4 - From the Rizal shrine we had lunch beside the Gloria de Dapitan, facing the beachfront and then proceeded to the Santa Cruz Beach which has a monument depicting Rizal's arrival in Dapitan. 
Punto del Disembarko de Rizal en Dapitan, Sunset Boulevard, Dapitan City.
Rizal landed on Santa Cruz beach at 7pm, July 17, 1892, with Captain Delgras and three arillery men. They walked through Santa Cruz Street with a farol de combate to the Casa Real where he was presented to Don Ricardo Carnicero, the Spanish military governor of the area.

Stamps #5, 6, 7 and 8 - A tricycle ride from the beach brought us to the Dapitan plaza which the nice local tourist guide (free) told us that Rizal planted the acasia trees there and designed the plaza patterned after the ones he'd seen in Europe. Rizal was one busy, busy man while in Dapitan. Aside from the designing the plaza and making a relief map of Mindanao, he also farmed, taught, built a water dam, healed, wrote and goodness knows what more.  Walking distance from the church and the plaza is the Sangguniang Panglungsod Building where we got our four other stamps. 

Site of the Casa Real
The official residence and administration building of the politico-military governor of the district. Rizal lived there from July 17, 1892 to March 1893 when he was transferred to Talisay, now the Rizal Dapitan Shrine. The original building was demiolished in the 1920s.

Dapitan Church
Built in 1883, St James Church of Dapitan has a historical marker which can be found in the exact sport where  Rizal stood every Sunday during his exile from 1892 to 1896.

 Relief Map of Mindanao -
A National Cultural Treasure, Rizal creaed this map as an aid in teaching history and geography to the locals.

Dapitan Plaza
Planned and beautified by Rizal durng his exile.
Four more stamps!

Region 9  - done! Six more regions to go :)
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