DAPITAN CITY -- Dapitan will always be a special place, taking into account its historicity, evidences of which we try to preserve and conserve for posterity; lest future generations will be robbed of very important and notable proofs of its beauty, eccentricity, arcadia and grandeur such as the markers, heritage houses, furniture, clothing, books, manuscripts, pictures, paintings, and the huge and mighty trees that still stand proud and erect, surviving the tests and challenges of nature for more than 150 years.
Like the trees, Dapitan itself is an awe to be discovered. It is so beautiful with its long stretch of shoreline of black sand in some areas and pinkish white sand on others. It has wide navigable rivers rich with edible and delicious products, waterfalls, caves, rapids, two islands which triangulate with the mainland and serves as a haven for whales and dolphins to name a few.
I believe these inherent qualities and conduciveness for good living prompted the Subanen tribe, known as the earliest settlers, to form settlements at Dapitan’s coastlines. They engaged in commercial trade with people from neighboring islands including those coming from parts of Asia and some parts of Europe. Prompted mostly by atrocities committed on them by moro pirates, they decided to venture upriver and into the hinterlands which did not fail them as fruit bearing trees and other agricultural products abound.
In 1563, a large group of Boholanos led by Datu Pagbuaya arrived in Dapitan. They instantly liked Dapitan’s environs and felt at home. They decided to make their settlement and called it Dapitan, a place where they felt invited to stay. In 1565, Legaspi and his expeditionary group came to Dapitan. They were received hospitably by Datu Pagbuaya and his people.
This encounter culminated with a “Treaty of Friendship” between Pagbuaya and Legaspi and marked the beginning of the Dapitanons defense of the Spanish crown and faithful adherence to the Catholic faith, to the extent of giving free assistance to Spain’s pacification of Mindanao, Visayas, and Luzon. Thus, the era and rule of Datu Pagbuaya and his descendants in Dapitan gained popularity not just in Mindanao but also in the Visayas and Luzon. Their strength, bravery and success in warfare gained them the trademark as “the Brave and Noble Nation of Dapitan”.
Dapitan was already in the Philippine map as early as the 1500s. Dapitanons should be very proud.
The Spanish Philippine conquest and rule brought forth in Dapitan another notable Filipino, the greatest man the Malayan race has ever produced, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. He spent four fruitful years of exile in Dapitan showing the versatile person that he was, very much ahead of his time. He was a teacher, a poet, a writer, a painter, a sculptor, an engineer, a surgeon and ophthalmologist, a scientist, a sports enthusiast! A farmer and a leader to the community. He was well loved not just by the locals of Dapitan but by his friends from around the world as well. Dapitan is so blessed to have sheltered Rizal and his greatness. Everything that is reminiscent of Dr. Jose Rizal may be found at the Rizal Shrine, in Dapitan’s barangay Talisay. Hence, Dapitan got the descriptive title, "the Shrine City of the Philippines.”
Local leaders took turns in leading the administration of Dapitan but for a longer span of time, nothing much had been done about the Rizal Shrine, no representations made to the national government until Dapitan lost its name in history. It doesn't ring a bell anymore, it lost its importance...Such a pity considering the fact that Dapitan is the only place which no other place could replicate, unless they can produce another Rizal.
With all the wonders possessed by Dapitan, the same failed to supply the needs of its constituents. Dapitanons then needed to travel and apply elsewhere to have a salaried and stable job. The main product before was copra when the price in the market was still competitive. Another was fish and other agricultural products. It can feed the family but still no room for advancement except for the landlords.
The vision for the revival of the glory of Dapitan came to being in 2001. It was during the administration of Mayor Rodolfo H. Carreon, Jr. that most if not all the streets in the poblacion were cemented as part of the preparation for a Tourism Masterplan. The aim was to make Dapitan a competitive tourist city offering historical tourism, eco tourism and manmade tourist facilities. When the Tourism Plan was laid down, it seemed impossible considering the garagantuan amount of money needed to finance everything in the plan. It was also during the time of Mayor Rodol that commenced the planning of the construction of the New Government Center.
Mayor Dominador G. Jalosjos' three term administration produced the imposing unique and respectable structure of the New Government Center! It saw the sprouting of tourist facilities such us the delineation of Dapitan Poblacion into two zones namely the Old Dapitan and the New Dapitan! Farol de Kumbate proudly adorned the lamp posts of old Dapitan while the erection of the Global lights silently magnifies the new Dapitan Zone.
Handuraw Festival in honor of Rizal was also added to the major yearly activities. Participation from the private sector was greatly encouraged with marketing and promotions and tax holiday support from the local government. Hence, a number of well meaning Dapitanons took the challenge and came up with hotels and pension houses business; Dapitan's ultimate entertainment venue , the Gloria de Dapitan; and of course, the only theme park in Visayas and Mindanao, the Fantasyland. It also has travel and tours operation with a fleet of big buses transporting domestic tourists from different points in Mindanao.
Dakak Park and Beach Resort had been renovating their resort for more than four years already. Adding up the best facilities which may be found in other posh resorts and surpassing them. To date, Dakak now has the longest zipline in Asia at 1.3 kilometers.
Dapitan City received a lot of help through the construction of infrastructure projects from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Governor Rolando E. Yebes, Governor Rommel Jalosjos, Congressman Cesar Jalosjos, Congresswoman Cecilia J. Carreon, Congressman Bullet Jalosjos, from the Senators and Congressmen friends. Their contributions produced the Punto de Desembarco de Rizal en Dapitan, Palarong Pambansa 2011 facilities, widening of the Rizal's Trail, Facelifting of the City Square, 1.2 billion continuing road project from the Rizal Shrine to the municipality of Rizal and a lot more.
Mayor Rosalina G. Jalosjos' present administration pushed for the continuance of the effective tourism programs of her predecessor and added programs and events that would give our city a new name, the City of Festivals.
Kagang Festival was launched in February in the coastal barangays and Ulang Festival for the barangays along the riverbanks.
Entertainment and Services are being offered to the barangay folks to let them feel the same level of importance as those living in the poblacion.
Again, the private sector is also very active in coming up with different kind of interesting and enjoyable events through the constant courting of the mayor.
Dapitan was the proud host the most expensive motorbikes in the world during the 3rd International Motorbike Conference, three years after we successfully hosted the Palarong Pambansa 2011.
National offices held their conferences here almost every month. While skydivers and motocross riders found their home in our beautiful city.
Soon we will be holding the World Arts Camp Olympiad courtesy from the able and active participation of the frontliners from the private sector.
We will soon be visited by international golfers in less than three years when the Greg Norman Signature Golf Course will be completed. National Geographic enthusiasts will have their eyes on us as we extract the sunken galleon.
Russians will become a natural sight in the next years to come as they already forged a sisterhood with our neighbor city, yet Dapitan has everything the Russian market wants.
We are eyeing not just domestic tourists as clients but the only international community. Just recently, groups from Mainland China, Hongkong, Taiwan and Singapore took turns in their arrival and immersion here in Dapitan since January for our magnificent and awesome offering of Fly and Dive Package within the Dapitan Sea Triangle.
All these activities were being backed up by a consistent marketing and promotions team from the tri-media making sure that our activities will always make it in the news locally as well as in regional and national television news. Participation in various Trade and Industry Expositions both local and international also played a very big part in the success of our tourism activities and missions.
Historian Florentino Cad described Dapitan in the 1500s as the capital of Mindanao. "If Manila stood as the pride of Luzon and Cebu to Visayas, Dapitan was considered the pride and strength of Mindanao."
Dapitan today is making a raging comeback redeeming its glory days. We just need to do our share and do away with our negative behaviors which will take a toll in Dapitan's consistent advancement.
Meanwhile, the 36th National Folkdance Workshop which was held here for five days made its culmination yesterday through the voluntary presentations of what the 1,200 participants from all over the country learned during the 5-day workshop.
It was the centerpiece of our Heritage Month celebration vis-a-vis the Santacruzan 2016 which is a mirror of our religious opulence from the time of our forefathers up to the present.
Hence I am inviting everyone to witness the traditional Santacruzan next week on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 and make a trip down the lane of Dapitan's historic, proud and preserved past.
The City of Festivals and events is just one among the many additional brandings of Dapitan because it doesn’t seem to rest from holding, hosting and participating in different kinds of activities and enjoyment here and abroad.
June ushers not just the Charter Day Celebration of Dapitan's cityhood and our participation in the Dive Resort and Travel Show Taiwan but most importantly the Inauguration of the victorious APP Political Party which made another historic landslide in the recently concluded national and local elections.
Choose Philippines, Choose Dapitan!
(The author, Apple Marie Agolong is the City Tourism Officer of Dapitan City)Apple Marie Agolong