Jose Rizal lives on

Today is June 19 and I am celebrating it with you, Dr. Jose Rizal. I count myself lucky to share your birthday for it always reminds me about the love you have shown for our country and how you dedicated yourself to the service of others.

I am devoting this page for you but in the meantime, I would like to greet you first a happy birthday! (Dear friends and readers: My promised post is below. Through this post, I am sharing with you my experiences in “Lakbay Jose Rizal” from 2011 to 2012. Thank you so much to all those who sent birthday greetings! )

Happy birthday to our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal!

Happy birthday to our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal!

Lakbay JOSE Rizal @150: Celebrating Rizal’s Life and Gifts to the World

The Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 campaign was launched by the Inter-Agency Working Group Committee led by the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DoT) in 2011, to commemorate the national hero’s 150th birthday.  While the competition part ended in 2012 already, one can still embark in this journey and visit the 27 Rizal shrines anytime. The website devoted to the campaign said that the stamps in the sites will still be available even after June 19, 2012 so I encourage you all to make this journey and reconnect with our national hero or simply pay respects to all our heroes and our flag.

His steps led to our awakening. [Photo taken through an HTC phone by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

His steps led to our awakening. [Photo taken through an HTC phone by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

How did the competition part work? It was something similar to “Amazing Race” in that one has to visit the 27 Rizal shrines and ensure that all the sites in the Rizal passport had been stamped before June 19, 2012. (Note that the passport requires 26 stamps, combining both the Rizal Monument and Park into one stamp.) The Rizal passport may be availed of from the DoT or  National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) offices. (Note: I am not sure if the passports are still available at this time but you may contact the  NHCP at TM Kalaw St., Manila. through tel. no. +63 2 5249952 or +63 2 5231019 or e-mail hsed@nhcp.gov.ph).

Here is how the passport looks like (folded):

The Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 Passport.

The Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 Passport.

We heard about the campaign a month after his birthday in June 2011. I think we were able to secure our Rizal passport sometime in July.  We had covered all of the sites in a span of about seven months–beginning the pilgrim in Intramuros on August 2, 2011–so I think that was a fairly good record given our busy schedules. (I will not yet reveal here if we were among the  first 100  pilgrims who made it so I can infuse a bit of excitement as you read this post! You will read about it at the end of this post.)

It was only apt that we made the “second leg” of our journey on December 30 (Rizal Day!). By then, we felt it was necessary to hurry up because we lost some six months already although we’re still quite hopeful that we would end up among the lucky 100 pilgrims, fully aware that it is indeed challenging to visit all the sites, which are located in 10 provinces (particularly in 10 cities and 2 municipalities).

I will share the actual chronology of our journey, hoping that it will help you plan your itinerary in case you want to follow how we covered the 10 provinces (counting both NCR and Antipolo) in just seven months. I will also be mentioning where we stayed (for those locations where we needed to stay overnight) and include notes/contact points on these “side trips.”

First leg: Intramuros and Paco Park, Manila (2 Aug. 2011) | Number of stamps: six (6)

I remember August 2 to be a very hot and humid day but we were very excited as this was our “official start” of Lakbay Jose Rizal @150. JR and I were joined by our good friend, Rory. Our first stop was in Fort Santiago where there are two Rizal historical sites: the first one is the Prison Cell & Rizal Shrine and the second, the Chapel Cell of Rizal. I did not yet own my second DSLR back then (having decided to sell my previous one several months earlier) so I had used the camera of an HTC phone only. Nevertheless, here is a picture of the prison cell, where he had stayed during his confinement in Fort Santiago from November 3 until his execution on December 30 of 1896.

In order for us to move forward as a nation, we need to look back and remember those who have given up their lives for us. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

In order for us to move forward as a nation, we need to look back and remember those who have given up their lives for us. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

We then proceeded to secure our second stamp, which  was for the chapel cell.  This place reminds us of Rizal’s faith, which he held on to steadfastly despite the darkness around him.

He dealt with darkness through his faith in God and love of country. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

He dealt with darkness through his faith in God and love of country. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

After our quiet moments inside Fort Santiago (and a quick drink in a small cafeteria before the exit gate), we then continued with our journey. The next three sites are located within Intramuros so it gave us a chance to walk again on some of the cobblestone streets of the walled city. I like Intramuros very much but I hope that the City of Manila will give it more care and attention to protect the integrity and history of the place.

We proceeded to the next landmark, the Trial of Rizal Site, which was the old Cuartel de Espana. (The place is now where the current Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila is located). The trial of Rizal began on December 26 and his death verdict was signed on December 28 (notice the 2-day trial period!).

A very good chronology of events during Rizal’s trial and execution had been captured in a blog post by Michael “Xiao” Chua. You can read it through this link. (Thank you, Sir Xiao for writing this timeline!) Meanwhile, here is our 3rd stamp, to allow you spend a moment in remembering Rizal’s trial.

Do not judge another being so easily; his pains could be much deeper than yours. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Do not judge another being so easily; his pains could be much deeper than yours. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Next in the journey is the old Ateneo Municipal de Manila Site (which is now the Ateneo de Manila University). Ateneo was established by the Jesuits in 1859 and had its first home in Intramuros. Rizal began his Ateneo education at age 11, staying there from 1872-1877, and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. (For more of Ateneo’s history, you may visit this link.) He was among the nine graduating students who were conferred with sobresaliente (“with distinction”) honors in a class of twelve. A summary of his stay in Ateneo had been captured in a slide presentation done by Honey Grace Santos and you can read it through this link. Here is a picture of what remains in the site in Intramuros.

Jose Rizal taught us to delight in our life-long education. It brings us to many places, enriches our mind, and empowers our being. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Jose Rizal taught us to delight in our life-long education. It brings us to many places, enriches our mind, and empowers our being. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal’s quest for learning and education is deeply inspiring. Many of us assume that Rizal had a relatively easy life as a student but the historical notes I had read as I wrote this blog reflected his challenges, such as when he was ridiculed by schoolmates because of his imperfect Spanish during his first months in Ateneo. These are humbling experiences, which many of us can relate to. These also remind us that we can surpass the difficulties that life is hurling upon us through faith, diligence, and hard work.

Moving on, we visited the old University of Santo Tomas (UST) Site, which was also previously located in Intramuros. (Apologies that I intentionally did not give specific directions to the sites so you can also enjoy and be challenged by the search as you also think back about Rizal and our rich history and heritage. You may consult Google for directions but that lessens the difficulties, right?) :-)

Established in 1611, UST was first called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario. You may read more about UST’s history through this link. Our national hero studied there from 1877 to 1882, taking a course in Philosophy and Letters for one year and then shifting to  medicine.  There had been historical notes about his ‘discrimation’ in both UST and Ateneo but a more objective narration had been discovered in the archives of UST. The notes had been summarized in an article published here.

Below is a picture of the historical marker at the old UST site. Note that the picture is somewhat lopsided and there’s a good reason for it–the site where the marker is located is enclosed in a steel fence and we were not able to go inside. I took this picture by climbing up a concrete slab (I cannot remember if it was a stone step), trying my best to avoid the steel fence that obstructs the marker.

Embrace every opportunity for education. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Embrace every opportunity for education. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

It was nearing sunset when we completed the sites in Intramuros so Rory had to go ahead. JR and I then decided to proceed to Paco Park. This place is relevant because it was said that the remains of Rizal were buried here (right after his execution), without letting his family and friends know. According to some historians, the Spanish authorities kept the burial ground a secret–the grave was left unmarked–to avoid the public outpouring of sentiments. They probably thought that making the grave known to all will likely encourage the public to congregate there. After a long search, his family eventually found the grave and had it marked with “R.P.J.” (the inverted initials of Rizal). His remains were eventually transferred to his mother’s house in Binondo in 1898 and to Rizal Park in 1912. Here is a marker on his first burial ground in Paco Park.

Jose Rizal was first buried here secretly.  [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Jose Rizal was first buried here secretly. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Second Leg: Rizal Park, Manila (30 Dec. 2011) | Number of stamps: three (3).

We thought it was a perfect day to remember the death of Jose Rizal. It was December 30 and as the country pays tribute to this great man, JR, I, and Badette agreed to make this day more special by continuing our “paglalakbay” (journey).

The first stop was in the Rizal Monument and Park. As a child, I remember being fascinated by the honor guards who are tasked to watch over his monument. I enjoyed watching them, imagining the difficulty of keeping their  stances. I admired them more as I found out today that these honor guards are expected to keep their two-and-a-half-hour shifts from 8:00 am up to 10:00 pm every day, rain or shine.  The guards assigned there are mostly corporals and sergeants from the Philippine Marine Security and Escort Group (MSEG). These soldiers are those who have already rendered at least one or two years of combat service. To appreciate the role that they play (and realize some of the difficulties and challenges of the job), you can read this article. I was able to take a picture of the monument with the Philippine flags at the left. I was so happy that it turned out well despite the cloudy skies.

Rizal lives on. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal lives on. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Rizal Park Monument is the hero’s final resting place. His remains were transferred here on December 30, 1912. The monument was eventually unveiled to the public on December 30, 1913. The monument was designed by Richard Kissling, a Swiss sculptor, who was not actually the first prize winner in the art competition organized for the design of the monument. If you are quite intrigued (as I had been!), you may read more about the story behind this monument through this article.

A few meters from the monument is the Rizal Execution Site. I was enveloped with a certain sadness as we reached the site but was also  pleased that the place had been improved, remembering its sad state the last time I went to Rizal Park.

The final moments of Rizal were captured through larger-than-life statues created by the renowned artist, Eduardo Castrillo. I would share here the sculptures depicting Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken, who is often referred to as the hero’s common-law wife. (Some historical notes suggest that they had been married in Catholic rites before Rizal’s execution.)

Sculptures of Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken at Rizal's Execution Site. [Sculptures by Eduardo Castrillo. Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Sculptures of Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken at Rizal’s Execution Site. [Sculptures by Eduardo Castrillo. Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

One will find many articles and blogs on the detailed accounts of the events that transpired on December 30. I especially liked this write-up and this one, which focused on the dog that appears in the photo of Rizal on the day of his execution.

Next in the trail is the Rizal Fountain. Many of you might wonder what is the significance of this fountain in the life of our hero. We must recall that Rizal traveled to Germany and spent some time in Wilhemsfeld, finishing his novel, Noli me Tangere, in 1886. While there, he stayed at the vicarage of Pastor Karl Ullmer, whose gardens featured a drinking fountain. This very same fountain was eventually donated by the German government to the Philippines in 1964. I was so pleased to know that it was restored in time for the celebration of Rizal’s 150th birthday. Here is a picture of me, relishing my moments with the Rizal Fountain:

This fountain carries the memories and 'spiritual imprints' of Rizal. [Photo by JR Suarin]

This fountain carries the memories and ‘spiritual imprints’ of Rizal. [Photo by JR Suarin]

Meanwhile, I would also like to share the picture of the “Kuya guard” who stamped our passports for this specific Rizal landmark. (Thanks, Kuya!)

Rizal Fountain stamped! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal Fountain stamped! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Stamp update: After these two legs, we were able to earn nine (9) stamps already!

Third Leg: Antipolo (12 Jan. 2012) | Number of stamp: one (1).

For our Antipolo journey, we (JR, I, and Badette) were joined again by Rory (who also brought her daughter, Faye, along). Antipolo is significant in Rizal’s life because  his father brought him to a pilgrimage of the Antipolo Church (also often referred to as “Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Shrine”  or the “Shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo”) on June 6, 1868. Historical notes say that the pilgrim was in fulfillment of a pledge of his mother who vowed to visit the Shrine should she and his son (Jose) survive the difficulty of his birth. Here are two pictures that capture the memories of our day in Antipolo:

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, Antipolo. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, Antipolo. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A day for prayers in loving memories of our saints and heroes. [Photo by JR Suarin.]

A day for prayers in loving memories of our saints and heroes. [Photo by JR Suarin.]

Antipolo has a very rich history and Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 made us appreciate the city’s heritage more. After our visit to the Shrine, we also enjoyed shopping for suman (rice cake) and casuy (cashew) nuts, at the stalls of local delicacies near the Shrine.

One can easily be enamored with the offerings of Antipolo. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

One can easily be enamored with the offerings of Antipolo. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

We also visited the Cristina Villas and the Seven Suites Hotel Observatory. The photos below were taken from a good vantage point at Cristina Villas and at the lobby of Seven Suites Hotel Observatory. (For those who are not yet aware of this, the Seven Suites Hotel is the only hotel-observatory in the Philippines. On the viewing deck, they have installed a powerful telescope, said to be the fourth largest in the country.)

From Cristina Villas, one can have a nice view of Metro Manila on a good day. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

From Cristina Villas, one can have a nice view of Metro Manila on a good day. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The lobby of Seven Suites Hotel Observatory [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The lobby of Seven Suites Hotel Observatory [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

It was indeed a very enjoyable day for all of us. Antipolo will always be special and I hope that you can include a visit here in your “travel bucket list,” not just to remember Jose Rizal but also to appreciate our very rich heritage…or even just to look at the stars!

Fourth Leg: Malolos, Bulacan and San Fernando, Pampanga (21 Jan. 2012) | Number of stamps: two (2)

In these two provinces, we reconnect once again with the memories and legacy of Jose Rizal. The Kamestisuhan District in Malolos, Bulacan, is significant to the life of Rizal because of his great admiration for the strength of character of the women of Malolos, who had built a night school for women, against the wishes of the town’s administrators. Note that Rizal wrote to them while he was in London in 1889. The full text of the famous letter, “To the Young Women of Malolos” may be read here. The Casa Real Shrine in Kamestisuhan District is the designated ‘keepers’ of the memories and archives of these brave women. Here is how Casa Real looks like from across the street:

The Casa Real Shrine, Malolos, Bulacan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Casa Real Shrine, Malolos, Bulacan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Inside, we were greeted by the guard who assisted us as we signed our names in the guestbook. Below is a picture of my husband, JR, as he signs on the guestbook.

Proud to sign our names in the guestbook of the Casa Real Shrine. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Proud to sign our names in the guestbook of the Casa Real Shrine. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Meanwhile, below is a wooden sculpture of Rizal with the Women of Malolos, displayed on one of the walls of the Casa Real Shrine. I hope I can discover who is the artist behind this work of art. I have tried searching for it through Google but to no avail. (Dear readers, please write to me if you have his/her name so we can properly acknowledge him/her here.)

In honor of the brave women of Malolos. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

In honor of the brave women of Malolos. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Our next stop was in the old Bautista House, where Rizal was said to have stayed as he recruited members for the La Liga Filipina. It had been designed in the 1850s neoclassical tradition and one can easily imagine the mysteries and conversations of the past as s/he goes through each room of the house. I gathered that it used to be the office of the Secretaria de Fomento (Ministry/Department of Interior Affairs) and home of Don Antonio Bautista, who served as  Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s Secretary of the Interior. Below are some of the pictures I had taken of and inside the house.

The old Bautista Mansion continues to stand quietly in the Kamestisuhan District. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Don Antonio Bautista Mansion continues to stand quietly in the Kamestisuhan District. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

 Memorabilia and antique furniture at the Jose Bautista House. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Memorabilia and antique furniture at the Jose Bautista House. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

 The beautiful details on the ceiling and walls of the Bautista House complement the rich history of the place. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The beautiful details on the ceiling and walls of the Bautista House complement the rich history of the place. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

I would like to express our deepest thanks to the current owner of the house (who is a descendant of the Bautistas), Mr. Dez Bautista, who toured us around the house even without prior notice! (Our apologies and deepest thanks, Sir Dez!) We did not really expect Mr. Bautista to be there but we were kindly allowed by his caretakers to take a quick peek and then, by a lucky twist of fate, Mr. Bautista arrived as we were being given a quick tour. We were sure he was surprised to see us there (who wouldn’t be?!) but was very kind enough to allow us stay a little bit longer. We are truly grateful. For  more detailed articles/notes on historical landmarks and mansions of Bulacan, you may go here and this link.

From Bulacan, we proceeded to Pampanga, where we would find the next Rizal site: the San Fernando Train Station. This station is part of the old Philippine National Railways’ northrail line. According to historians, Rizal disembarked at this station on June 27, 1892, to confer with some of the recruits of La Liga Filipina. I am pleased that the station has been carefully restored. Here are pictures of the station:

The San Fernando Train Station [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The San Fernando Train Station [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The San Fernando Train Station [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The San Fernando Train Station [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Enroute to Manila, we completed the Pampanga trip by having a hearty dinner at the famous Aling Lucing’s sisig restaurant.

By the end of our trips to Bulacan and Pampanga, we were happy to note that our Rizal passport had 12 stamps already and, more importantly, that we were getting to know Rizal really well!

Fifth Leg: Zamboanga del Norte, Mindanao (27 to 30 Jan. 2012) | Number of stamps: eight (8).

The province of Zamboanga del Norte, especially Dapitan, is very significant to the life of our national hero.  For this part of our Lakbay Jose Rizal, we were also joined by Badette. Our first stop upon arrival was at the Dipolog Cathedral (also called the “Cathedral of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary”), which was built in 1896 and restored over the years, beginning in the 1970s. The church is included in the Rizal heritage trail because it was the hero himself who designed its main altar. Below are pictures of the left side of the main entrance.

The Dipolog Cathedral [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Dipolog Cathedral [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Dipolog Cathedral [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Dipolog Cathedral [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

I am also including a closer shot of the Cathedral’s marker where the artistic contribution of Dr. Jose Rizal was mentioned:

Rizal's generosity of spirit can be gleaned from the many ways he contributed to our rich heritage. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal’s generosity of spirit can be gleaned from the many ways he contributed to our rich heritage. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

You can read more about and view some more pictures of the Cathedral through this link.

After saying our prayers inside the Cathedral and securing our stamp at the Dipolog City Hall, we then decided to proceed to Dapitan while the sun was still up. We were really looking forward to this trip because Rizal spent four years in exile there (from July 1892 to July 1896), doing a lot of good works and influencing a lot of people, particularly his young pupils. In Dapitan, he practiced medicine, pursued scientific, engineering, and environmental activities, farmed, taught, and engaged in commerce. For a more detailed discussion on the life of Rizal in Dapitan, you may go to this link. (Note: I cannot attest to the veracity of all the information stated in the links that I have included in this post so I encourage you to make your own research as well so that, together, we can derive more accurate accounts on the life of Rizal.)

Our first destination in Dapitan was the Rizal Shrine and Waterworks. Rizal resided in this part of Dapitan, where he also established a school, a small farm, a waterworks system, and a small hospital. The 16-hectare land was bought through his winning from a lottery.

The Shrine is a beauty to behold and quite peaceful. The huts (mostly replicas of the original structures) and grounds were well taken cared of by the government and volunteers. It is here where you can hug the trees planted by Rizal and or his students. I would not want to miss the chance to hug the tree that Rizal planted (and is believed to be the oldest tree there) so here is my moment with this beautiful tree. (Ahhhh, the encounter gave me a good and refreshing feeling!)

I just have to hug this tree! This Baluno tree was believed to have been planted by Jose Rizal himself. [Photo by JR Suarin]

I just have to hug this tree! This Baluno tree was believed to have been planted by Jose Rizal himself. [Photo by JR Suarin]

Below are some more pictures, which will, hopefully, encourage you to make a trip to Dapitan as well.

The waterworks system that Rizal developed in Talisay, Dapitan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The waterworks system that Rizal developed in Talisay, Dapitan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The "Mi Retiro Rock" (My Retreat Rock). The hero spent many beautiful afternoons here, watching the sunset. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The “Mi Retiro Rock” (My Retreat Rock). The hero spent many beautiful afternoons here, watching the sunset. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Some of the very old trees at the shrine. Rizal and his students planted many of them. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Some of the very old trees at the shrine. Rizal and his students planted many of them. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The poem of Rizal titled, Himno a Talisay (Hymn to Talisay), was beautifully etched on the grounds of the Shrine. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The poem of Rizal titled, Himno a Talisay (Hymn to Talisay), was beautifully etched on the grounds of the Shrine. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

From the edge of the Shrine, one can watch the sun as it sets toward the horizon of the Sulu Sea. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

From the edge of the Shrine, one can watch the sun as it sets toward the horizon of the Sulu Sea. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Sulu Sea as it waits for the sun to set. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Sulu Sea as it waits for the sun to set. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

If you want to know more about the hero’s stay in Dapitan, Dr. Floro Quibuyen, a UP professor, has written an analysis of Rizal’s Himno a Talisay.

The sun was already setting when we left the Shrine so darkness has descended by the time we reached Sta. Cruz Beach, where the Punto del Desembarco de Rizal (Rizal Landing Site) was built. (This site is going to be the 15th stamp in our passport. ) The monument depicts the arrival of Rizal and his captors in Dapitan on July 17, 1892. The figures were painted in what looks like a mixture of bronze and gold so it was probably a blessing-in-disguise that we reached the landmark at precisely the start of a  perfect night. The dark blue skies and the yellow lights provided a beautiful hue to the whole surroundings. (The Dapitan City website has indicated that the monument was designed by Antonio Tuviera and Nilo Ferraren, executed by sculptor Manuel Tolentino, and installed and bronzed by Ronel Roces.)

Rizal Landing Site at the Sta. Cruz Beach, Dapitan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal Landing Site at the Sta. Cruz Beach, Dapitan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Rizal Landing Site is located at the coast of Sta. Cruz Beach,  parallel with one side of Sunset Boulevard. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

From the steps of the Rizal Landing Site, one can marvel at the quiet beauty of Sunset Boulevard at night. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The next day, we went back to the beach and decided to take a brief walk. By then, I had understood why Rizal must have quietly ‘endured’ his exile here–Dapitan is simply a quiet refuge, embracing and comforting you.

Sta. Cruz Beach, Dapitan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Sta. Cruz Beach, Dapitan. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

We quickly saw the site of Casa Real the previous evening but were not able to linger because it was already quite dark. The Casa Real was the official residence and administration building of the politico-military governor of Dapitan during the Spanish Regime (Source: Dapitan City Tourism website). Rizal was said to have stayed here for about eight months or up to March 1893. Here is a portion of the marker to the site:

Marker to the Casa Real Site. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Marker to the Casa Real Site. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Also part of the Rizal landmark sites is the Relief Map of Mindanao, which was actually larger than I had first imagined it. It measures about 900 square meters and was said to have been made by Rizal and Francisco Paula de Sanchez, Rizal’s favorite teacher in Ateneo. (Source: Dapitan City Website). This map is a testament to the wisdom and eagerness of Rizal in improving his teaching methodologies. Historians say that the hero created this gigantic map as a tool in teaching his students history and geography. Below is a close-up picture of a portion of the map showing the coast of Dapitan and Dipolog:

A portion of the Map of Mindanao Site. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A portion of the Map of Mindanao Site. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

It is better to see an aerial shot of the map so you can better appreciate it. There are very few aerial shots of the relief map available online but a blogger was able to take this picture.

The Dapitan Church was just across the relief map so we also looked forward to visiting it. Below are pictures of the facade of the Church and the interiors, which show portions of the ceiling.

The St. James Parish Church (Dapitan Church). [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The St. James Parish Church (Dapitan Church). [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The interiors of St. James Parish Church (Dapitan Church). [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The interiors of St. James Parish Church (Dapitan Church). [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Church was built in 1871 in honor of St. James the Great. Rizal, during his exile, attended Sunday masses regularly there and stood in a particular spot so the National Historical Commission put up a marker there.

Several steps away from the Church is Dapitan Plaza. It was already there when Rizal arrived in Dapitan but he worked on its improvement and further beautification, with the assistance of the then Spanish Governor Ricardo Carcinero. Some of the acacia trees were actually planted by Rizal himself. (Source: Dapitan City Website) Below are pictures of the plaza and its marker.

Dapitan Plaza at sunset. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Dapitan Plaza at sunset. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The marker to the Dapitan Plaza [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The marker to the Dapitan Plaza [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Next in the itinerary is the Rizal Farm in Katipunan. The farm is located in Barangay Dr. Jose Rizal, Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte. Katipunan is about 20-30 minutes from Dipolog. Rizal, together with his pupils, tended to this farm mostly on weekends. It is rather unfortunate that many of the locals whom we met along the way did not know or ever heard of this farm. Luckily, we met a kind lady who knows the place and introduced us to Mrs. Ade Eguia (as far as I can recall, she was and may still be the Tourism Officer of Katipunan), wife of the Mayor, who is incidentally, the son of the owner of the farm now, Mr. Crisostomo Eguia Sr. (Mr. C. Eguia Sr. is a direct descendant of Fernando Eguia, one of the pupils of Rizal in Dapitan).

Rizal must be guiding us along the way, meeting these wonderful people! Ms. Eguia was so nice that she welcomed us to their home and shared many stories of Rizal and of how he and his students tended the farm! According to her, a patient of Rizal named Calixto Carreon, offered him the farm as payment and token of thanks for the successful treatment by Rizal of his blind eye. Being a good man, Rizal refused the payment and instead offered to pay him P200 for the land. Before Rizal’s execution, he designated his sister, Trinidad, to administer the land. Trinidad eventually designated Mr. Fernando Eguia, Rizals’ pupil as administrator. Eventually, Trinidad offered to sell the land to the son of Fernando, on one condition: that the farm will continue to carry the name of Rizal.

We were indeed blessed because we met Mrs. Eguia and a very nice lady–whom we met in the multicab that we took going to Katipunan–and who introduced us to the former.

Rizal and his pupils tended this farm on weekends. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal and his pupils tended this farm on weekends. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

It was an honor just to simply walk on the farm that Jose Rizal tended. [Photo by JR Suarin.]

It was an honor just to simply walk on the farm that Jose Rizal tended. [Photo by JR Suarin.]

During our last day in Zamboanga del Norte, we were able to visit Dakak Beach Resort and go around Dipolog City. In Dipolog, we were wonderfully surprised to experience the artistic ambience of GoodTimes Gallery & Cafe, which is, incidentally, owned by the uncle of my former photography mentor, Jimmy Domingo. Here is a picture of one of the seating areas in the gallery-cafe (you can view more pictures in the Gallery page soon):

GoodTimes Cafe-Gallery in Dipolog City [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

GoodTimes Cafe-Gallery in Dipolog City [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Of course, we cannot leave Dapitan without taking a river cruise, so here is among my favorite pictures of Dapitan River and the mountains behind it:

A visit to Dapitan is not complete without the river cruise. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A visit to Dapitan is not complete without the river cruise. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The river cruises usually begin and end in any of the restaurants along the Dapitan Aqua Marine Park (DAMPA). We arranged our cruise through the Inato Lang Restaurant. On our last evening in Dapitan, we also took leisurely walks inside the Gloria de Dapitan Complex (where the Fantasyland theme park is also located). It was not a very busy night when we went there but there are nice cafes/restaurants and we enjoyed our burgers at the joint called “Barracks”.

Stamp update: We had earned 20 stamps already by the time we completed this part of Lakbay Jose Rizal @150! (Note: The contact details of the B&B where we stayed in Dipolog are indicated at the end of this post.)

6th Leg: Laguna and Camarines Norte (10 to 12 February 2012) | Number of stamps: three (3)

We deemed it more practical to visit the Rizal sites in Calamba, Laguna and Daet, Camarines Norte in one leg/weekend as they are both in Southern Luzon. It was also more practical for us to return to Manila–after the trip to Calamba City–in the evening and then just simply travel to Daet the next day, staying there for a night. Of course, an alternative is to stay overnight in Laguna or Quezon, and then proceed to Daet.

The Rizal Shrine in Calamba City, Laguna showcases the home where Rizal was born and nurtured as a young boy. Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 to Francisco Rizal Mercado and Teodora Alonso, and christened José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. He has nine sisters and one brother. For more detailed accounts on his life, you may visit this and this site.

Meanwhile, below are some photos of the Rizal Shrine in Calamba City.

A reproduction of the Rizal house in Calamba. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A reproduction of the Rizal house in Calamba. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Remembering the birth of a hero, a great man. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Remembering the birth of a hero, a great man. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A reproduction of the Rizal Family's kitchen. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A reproduction of the Rizal Family’s kitchen. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal is often referred to as a great doctor, writer/novelist, and artist. However, he is also a naturalist/environmentalist. This poster at the Shrine serves as a reminder of his other great deeds. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal is often referred to as a great doctor, writer/novelist, and artist. However, he is also a naturalist/environmentalist. This poster at the Shrine serves as a reminder of his other great deeds. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

For more details about the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, please visit this link.

Jose Rizal was baptized in San Bautista Church in Calamba on June 22, 1861, by Fr. Rufino Collantes. The church was established by the Franciscan order sometime in 1779. Below are two pictures of the interiors of the Church.

The interiors of San Juan Bautista Church in Calamba City, Laguna. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The interiors of San Juan Bautista Church in Calamba City, Laguna. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The altar of San Juan Bautista Church in Calamba City, Laguna. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The altar and the floors of San Juan Bautista Church in Calamba City, Laguna. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Rizal Monument in Daet, Camarines Norte, is an important place because it is considered the oldest monument built for Rizal, built in 1898 or only two years after his death.The project undertaking was led by Lt. Cols. Antonio Sanz and Ildefonso Alegre of the Republican Army. It was also Sanz who designed the three-tiered structure. For more details about the monument, please read this article.

This trip was probably the most difficult part of our journey because it was raining when we reached Daet and secondly, it was on a Saturday, a weekend, when there is a great chance that no one will be available at the office where we can get the Rizal stamp.

True enough, the officer who holds the rubber stamp kit was not in the tourism office. It took a while and a lot of phone calls before we finally got hold of the person. It seemed that it was normally left with the guard-on-duty (in case some pilgrims will arrive on weekends and after office hours) but on that one particular weekend, a likely communication gap prevented someone from leaving the kit.

Nevertheless, we got hold of the lady and she was kind enough to go to us despite the rains that day! (Oh, we had to thank God and Rizal again for all the divine interventions!) Below are photos of the oldest Rizal monument.

We braved the rains that day and happily posed by the oldest Rizal Monument. Taken in Daet, Camarines Norte. [Photo by JR Suarin]

We braved the rains that day and happily posed by the oldest Rizal Monument. Taken in Daet, Camarines Norte. [Photo by JR Suarin]

The people of Camarines Norte have contributed toward the construction of this monument so it is truly a gift of the people of the province to the Filipino nation. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The people of Camarines Norte have contributed toward the construction of this monument so it is truly a gift of the people of the province to the Filipino nation. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The historical marker of the Rizal Monument in Daet, Camarines Norte. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The historical marker of the Rizal Monument in Daet, Camarines Norte. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Stamp update: By the time we completed this leg, we had earned 23 stamps already!

7th Leg: Visayas Region (18-20 February 2012) | Number of stamps: three (3)

This was particularly challenging, time-wise, because we needed to cover three provinces (and secure three stamps) but we only had the weekend (3 days/2 nights) to accomplish this. To be able to maximize our short stay, we flew in to Cebu (Day 1), traveled by land to Liloan in Santander, Southern Cebu (Day 2), took a ferry boat to Sibulan, Negros Oriental, and then rode a tricycle to Dumaguete. After visiting the Rizal Shrine in Dumaguete City and securing our stamp in Dumaguete, we then made the land travel to Bacolod where we stayed for the night (still Day 2). The next day (Day 3), we traveled to Iloilo City via another ferry ride to Dumangas port in Iloilo province, and then by bus to the city proper. We were back in Manila by the evening of Day 3. It was an exhausting trip but certainly all worth it!

Before I narrate the details of our Visayas leg, I would like to share a cute story as we arrived in the port of Dumaguete. It was a very hot day and as we walked along the port, we noticed a silver-and-gray striped fish that seems shivering on the ground. It was quite obvious that it was already dying. (Obviously, he was part of the day’s catch of a  fisherfolk as there were still bits of crushed ice near him.) In a sort of ‘panic’ mode, we didn’t want to waste any more time so JR picked up the fish and threw it upon the waters immediately. We were not sure if it will survive. See his/her picture below.

The fish that needed urgent help. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The fish that needed urgent help. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A few seconds after throwing him in, the fish remained motionless. Our hearts were beginning to be crushed…but then, lo and behold, after a few more seconds, the fish started moving, weakly at first, and then finally swimming more vigorously! JR and I laughed heartily, joyfully, knowing that we had just saved a fish! :-) Here is his picture as he began swimming away.

Now, a happy fish, swimming away! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Now, a happy fish, swimming away! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

It was a simple event in our life as a couple but it will always bring good memories and smiles on our faces every time we think about it.

Now back to our Rizal journey – first in the itinerary was Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. Historical records show that Rizal’s group, enroute to Manila (from Dapitan) via the steamship España, passed by Cebu in August 2, 1896. The fort is said to be the oldest and smallest triangular fort in the Philippines. Records are unclear but some notes say that it was built around 1565. (Source: DOT Central Visayas) Below are some pictures of Fort San Pedro.

The top facade of Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The top facade of Fort San Pedro in Cebu City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

An old structure inside Fort San Pedro, Cebu City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

An old structure inside Fort San Pedro, Cebu City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A mini-pond inside Fort San Pedro, Cebu City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A mini-pond inside Fort San Pedro, Cebu City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

After our overnight stay in Cebu City (where we also had a very relaxing and enjoyable evening with the family of JR, my husband), we proceeded to Dumaguete City, where Rizal’s group first stopped by while enroute to Manila. Rizal’s diary carried these notes:

“…The following day, Saturday, at dawn, we anchored at Dumaguete, capital of Oriental Negros. The steamer anchors quite near the shore because of the great depth of the water.  Dumaguete spreads out on the beach. There are big houses, some with galvanized iron roofing. The house of a lady, whose name I have forgotten, was outstanding. It is occupied by the government and another one, just begun with many ipil posts. I went ashore with my family and the C.P.M.* I told my family to see the town while the C.P.M. and I paid our respects to Governor Regal whom I met at Dapitan on the way to his destination.” (Note: The “CPM” means “Politico-military commander“. Source: JoseRizal.info)

Below are pictures of Rizal’s monument in Dumaguete City and its marker.

Rizal Monument in Dumaguete City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Rizal Monument in Dumaguete City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The historical marker to Rizal's Monument in Dumaguete City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The historical marker to Rizal’s Monument in Dumaguete City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

From Dumaguete, we took a Ceres bus that will take us to Bacolod, Negros Occidental, where we intended to stay overnight and recharge for another day of our Lakbay Jose Rizal @150. We were all getting excited because Iloilo is where we will secure our 26th stamp, completing our Rizal pilgrimage!

We stayed in a simple but nice tourist inn in Bacolod called Saltimboca. Below are pictures of the inn.

Saltimboca Inn, Bacolod City [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Saltimboca Inn, Bacolod City [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Saltimboca Inn Bacolod [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Saltimboca Inn Bacolod [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

I will post more pictures of this inn in the Gallery page so please visit meiLBOX again soon.

After recharging at this quaint hotel, we took the ferry that will bring us to the island-province of Iloilo, where we will secure the stamp for Molo Church.

The Church of St. Anne, also often called the Molo Church, was visited by Rizal in August 4, 1896, again, enroute to Manila (from Dapitan. The church was built in 1831, following the Gothic and Romanesque design traditions. (Source: ExploreIloilo.com) You can read more about the church through this blog post. Below are pictures of Molo Church.

The belfry of Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The belfry of Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The marker to the Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The marker to the Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Inside the Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by JR Suarin]

Inside the Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by JR Suarin]

Inside the Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by JR Suarin]

Inside the Molo Church, Iloilo City. [Photo by JR Suarin]

It is also interesting that the stamping kit for the Molo Church had been entrusted with the Panaderia de Molo, which is already part of the history of Iloilo, being the oldest food business there (founded sometime in the 1830s). It was said that in the 1800s, masons would use egg whites in cementing the bricks used to build churches. The women of Iloilo found this wasteful and started baking cookies from the egg yolks that remained. This could have led to the beginning of Panaderia de Molo. The panaderia, with three branches in Iloilo City, is famous for its galletas and bañadas. To read more about it, here is an article, which I had referred to for this post. Below is our picture by  the door of this famous Iloilo panaderia.

Happy to complete the 27 Rizal shrines! [Photo by Badette Tamayo]

Happy to complete the 27 Rizal shrines! [Photo by Badette Tamayo]

It was apt that we completed our Lakbay Jose Rizal @150 journey in Molo Church. It gave us a chance to pray and simply relish the beautiful journeys that we made, knowing Jose Rizal in a more profound way, making us richer and hopefully, wiser.

To close this post, I am sharing with you my Rizal passport, with all the 27 sites completely stamped! As promised at the start of this post, I am happy to share with you that JR, I, and Badette were among the first 100 pilgrims who had successfully completed this journey! We were given token gifts and official Kalakbay Jose Rizal certificates. Thank you to DoT, NHC, NHIP, and all those who made this project possible!

The Rizal Passport will always remind us of the life and sacrifices of a great man. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The Rizal Passport will always remind us of the life and sacrifices of a great man. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Thank you, Lord, and Dr. Jose Rizal for accompanying us in these journeys!

Note on references: I had consulted various sources as I had written this post. All of my sources are the ones I had indicated in the links. Thanks so much for all the historians, researchers, and writers who wrote (and continue to write) about Jose Rizal. Mabuhay kayo!

Mei_Watermark-4

 

 

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Contacts:

Cristina Villas Mountain Resort & Hotel | Taktak Road, Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Antipolo City | Tel. no. (02) 697-4521 | FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cristina-villas-mountain-resort-and-hotel/401192523268232

Seven Suites Hotel Observatory | Blk. 1 Lot 2, Hollywood Hills Subd., Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City | Tel. nos. (02) 682-0330/2076 Website   http://www.sevensuites.net

Aling Lucing Sisig Restaurant | Glaciano Valdez St., Angeles City, Pampanga | Tel. no. (045) 598-0317 | FB page https://tl-ph.facebook.com/lucingcunanan

Antonio’s Pension House | Gen. Luna cor. Martinez Streets, Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte | Cp # +63 908 815-6638 | FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Antonios-Pension-House/107598042603011

GoodTimes Cafe & Art Gallery (Galeria Indelecio) | C.P. Garcia cor. Lopez Jaena Sts., Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte (Sorry, the cp # is not advertised! This adds up to the excitement of visiting the place!)

Dakak Park & Beach Resort | Brgy. Taguilon, Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte | Tel. nos. (065) 213-6813/6647 Cp #s +63 918 803-8403 +63 915 318-5238 | FB Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dakak-Park-and-Beach-Resort/402670300139

Barracks Burger Joint-Hobby Shop-Internet Cafe | Gloria de Dapitan, Sunset Blvd., Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte | FB Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barracks/416866895125075

Inato Lang Restaurant | Dapitan Aqua Marine Park, Dapitan City | Tel. no. (065) 213-6474

Holiday Spa Hotel | Gov. M. Cuenco Ave., Banilad, Cebu City | Tel. no. (032) 236 5220 | Website http://www.holidayspahotelcebu.com/

Saltimboca Tourist Inn | 15th Street (near Lacson St.), Bacolod City, Negros Occidental | Tel. no. (034) 432-3617/ 433-3179 Cp # +63 932 877-9488

(Note on these contacts: The contact details listed above are current/working as I posted this, however, I cannot guarantee that they will always be correct. Please also note that the links are currently working–and seem secure or virus-free–but I also cannot guarantee the security of the links today or at any time in the future. Please take the necessary precaution and ensure your PCs are protected by the latest anti-virus software when visiting any websites/links.)

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This is not a paid blog. (I do not ask for any donation but I hope you can plant a tree on your birthday/s.)

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