Dapitan's sights

- Marlinda Angbetic Tan () - March 17, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - NAITAS, a dynamic group of independent travel agencies, invited us recently on a tour of Dapitan City and Dakak Park Beach Resort in Zamboanga del Norte. Our PAL Express flight brought us to Dipolog Airport in 35 minutes and off we went to the next city of Dapitan (about forty minutes’ drive) for a leisurely cruise along the Dapitan and Liburan rivers. Another half an hour’s drive brought us to Dakak Resort (meaning: “dakung kakahoyan” or big forest) in Taguilon town, the gem of Dapitan City.

Other attractions of Dapitan City is the DAMPA (Dapitan Aqua Marine Park) where the river cruises usually end. Many interesting restaurants are found in DAMPA, one of which is Inato Lang where we had a lovely homestyle buffet dinner. One cruise not to be missed is the sunset cruise that starts from DAMPA through Dapitan Bay to Dakak Cove.

There are two city tours one can do in one go: the Dapitan City tour for culture and the Dipolog City tour for shopping – especially the famous Montaño sardines and other products like their equally famous longganisa, peanuts, pastries and other delicacies. Dapitan is known as the Shrine City since the national hero Jose P. Rizal spent some years here in exile. He arrived in July 1892 under Capitan Ricardo Carnicero, who later became the governor of the place. Carnicero developed a respectful friendship with his learned prisoner.

Rizal won in a lottery and bought a piece of land with his winnings. He built huts for his classrooms, clinic (patients came to him even from abroad, seeking his expertise in ophthalmology), his spacious residence with an adjoining outhouse and an equally spacious kitchen next door. All these huts are painstakingly reconstructed and maintained by white-clad women called Rizalistas in what is now known as Rizal Park. Restrooms at the park are airconditioned with state-of-the-art facilities. Impressive!

The facade of the Municipal Hall is older than the time of Rizal’s exile in the 1890s. Ilihan Hill, dominating the city, has remnants of a Spanish fort facing Dapitan Bay, while there is a burial ground from pre-Spanish era near the Lourdes Grotto at the foot of the hill. Charming antebellum houses are still extant in both cities.

Then, there is Gloria de Dapitan Complex, with the Fantasyland theme park. This is a gem of a family destination: mothers and older sisters can shop at the burgeoning outlets in the mini mall, while kiddies can have a ball among the rides in the theme park. Adult rides are also available, like the deceptive Galleon Ship or the definitely breath-taking rollercoaster. Not to mention the Horror House in which you will have a guaranteed scare of your life. Fathers and older brothers can chill out at any of the bars and ktv joints in the complex, then the family can get together for dinner at any of the eateries offering international cuisine. Dakak Resort offers a very enticing package called Fantasyland sa Dapitan good until the end of 2010: 3 days/2 nights tour package full board with free transfers and transpo during the stay. Good for 10 pax/group. This is really another gem you can cull in Dapitan!

Dakak Park Beach Resort offers island hopping to Aliguay Island with sightings of dolphins along the way. Management is now finalizing facilities at a cove in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental, as an alternate destination during windy days.

So, what are you waiting for? Book your reservations now through your travel agent!

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