Historical commission closes Rizal National Shrine in Dapitan due to virus scare

Gualberto Laput
Historical commission closes Rizal National Shrine in Dapitan due to virus scare
Dipolog bishop calls for calm amid virus pandemic

DIPOLOG CITY – The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has closed to the public indefinitely the Rizal National Shrine, the biggest tourist drawer in nearby Dapitan City.

Dapitan’s economy is largely driven by tourism, but local officials are implementing the preemptive measure despite the heavy financial costs as a preemptive measure to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Right now, Dapitan has no COVID-19 infection. we are implementing precautionary measures anyway,” said City Information Officer Randy Cabasag.

COVID-19, the sickness caused by the novel coronavirus, was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. 

Meanwhile, Bishop Severo Caermare of the Diocese of Dipolog  called for “calm, prayers” but be “cautious” as the entire diocese joined in the fight against the onslaught of the novel virus.

The Diocese of Dipolog has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

There is no confirmed COVID-19 infection in Zamboanga del Norte, but restrictions and precautions against the disease have been strictly implemented.


In neighboring Dipolog, the 15 teachers, learners and a supervisor who visited South Korea last February ended their 14-day self-quarantine March 12 with no symptoms of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan is hardest hit by the pandemic scare as its number of guests have declined sharply. There have been no foreign tourists arriving in over a month,

“We are now relying on local tourists. Anyway the sun is one of the best shield against COVID-19 than night life,” says Chembeelyn Alpeche-Balucan, Dakak corporate lawyer. “But we have to reduce work days per week and those in the management have salary cuts.”

As the residents brace to prevent COVID-19 from entering the province, Bishop Caermare through a pastoral letter released March 13 also announced steps to be implemented, including the draining off of holy water in founts at church entrances.

During mass, refrain from holding of hands while singing The Lord’s Prayer; to bow instead of shaking hands during the “kiss of peace”; to receive communion through their hands ,and those who are ill are advised to hear mass on television or radio.

If mass goers have to cough, the bishop said they have to cover their mouth with handkerchief or with their arms.

The traditionally popular kissing, touching or wiping of handkerchief on images are also discouraged.

The bishop is yet to issue guidelines on how to observe the coming Holy Week, which traditionally draws huge crowds in processions and masses. – Rappler.com

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