Jose Rizal

Dapitan remembers, reenacts exiled Rizal’s arrival 130 years ago

Gualberto Laput

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Dapitan remembers, reenacts exiled Rizal’s arrival 130 years ago

'EL DEPORTADO.' Actors reenact Dr. Jose Rizal's 10-minute walk from the shores of Dapitan to Politico-Military Commander Ricardo Carnicero’s house at the village center in Dapitan City on Sunday, July 17.

Gualberto Laput/Rappler

For the first time in over one century, Dapitan City reenacts and marks the July 17, 1892 arrival of Dr. Jose Rizal to remember four years of the national hero’s life while in exile

DAPITAN CITY, Philippines – At dusk on Sunday, July 17, Dapitan’s street lights were switched off and vehicles came to a halt from the Punto del Disembarco to the city’s main plaza as a group of Dapitanons in 1892 outfits calmly walked down a major street.

The actors from the group Teyatro Dasuliman reenacted national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s arrival in Dapitan where he was sent into exile by Spanish colonizers in the late 19th century.

For the first time in over one century, Dapitan, now a city in Zamboanga del Norte province, reenacted the arrival of Rizal 130 years ago to remember what local officials said were “the best four years” of the national hero’s life.

THE ARRIVAL. Actors from the Teyatro Dasuliman reenact Jose Rizal’s arrival from the Punto de Disembarco in Santa Cruz to the Casa Real of Spanish politico-military commander Ricardo Carnicero in downtown Dapitan City on Sunday, July 17. (Bert Laput/Rappler)

Dapitan Mayor Seth Frederick Jalosjos said the reenactment, dubbed Revisitamos Dapitan 1892 (Revisiting Dapitan in 1892), signaled the start of the local government’s efforts “to build the ideal community he (Rizal) wanted Dapitan to be,” and city hall’s campaign to give the city’s heritage tourism a boost.

“As I walked behind those who acted as Rizal, Captain Alejandro Delgras, and three Guardia Civil, my goosebumps were endless. It was dark, and I saw the silhouettes of Dapitanons lining up on the street from the landing site to the city plaza. It felt like I have reconciled with the spirit of Rizal,” Jalosjos said.

He said city hall would make the celebration of Rizal’s July 17, 1892 arrival yearly to stir public awareness of Dapitan’s rich history and the ideals and teachings of the national hero.

He said it saddened him that only a few Dapitanons know about Rizal’s specific works and teachings in Dapitan and that people who visit the city often leave without learning anything about details of the hero’s life while he was in exile.

“If you roam around Dapitan, you cannot see or feel any trace of Rizal – not a structure or anything to show that we learned something from him,” Jalosjos said.

He added, “What we all know about Dapitan is Dakak, the Glorious Fantasyland theme park, and now, the Snow World. I would rather that people know us because of Rizal, and as an offshoot, they would say, ‘Ah, you also have Snow World.’” 

Jalosjos said it was ironic that Rizal was recognized abroad, and that monuments were even built in honor of the Philippine hero in other countries.

“We, Dapitanons, should know the man by heart. It is shameful if we don’t. If we can do it, our next responsibility is to show the world the things Rizal did and taught us in Dapitan,” Jalosjos said.

Museu ni Jose Rizal-Dapitan guide Albert Vincent Barretto said the hero built a dam, designed the plaza, and introduced modern agriculture, and modern ways of fishing.

Rizal, he said, showed Dapitanons in the late 19th century that they can survive and improve their lives independently from the Spanish colonizers.

“He practiced medicine for free. He opened a school and organized a cooperative so Dapitanons may grow educated, developed, and know how to protect their rights and interests while taking care of each other,” Barretto said.

The challenge now, according to Barretto, is for leaders, academics, and adults to rekindle public interest in Rizal’s life, and the lessons he imparted in Dapitan.

“That’s why we have Revisitamos Dapitan 1892 for a start,” Jalosjos said. “And I intend to make heritage tourism our flagship effort to propel our city to the future.”

REVISIT. Revisitamos Dapitan 1892 actors help relive the first day of Dr. Jose Rizal’s exile in Dapitan City 130 years ago on Sunday, July 17. (courtesy of Museu ni Jose Rizal-Dapitan)

Father Patrick Dalangin, Saint James the Greater Parish priest in Dapitan, said the day Rizal arrived in Dapitan was just any other day.

“But now, it is no longer ordinary. He is already our national hero,” Dalangin said.

“There was no fanfare when Dr. Rizal made his appearance in Dapitan. I was 12 years old the first time I laid eyes on him,” recalled the late Jose Aseniero in his memoirs that were shared by his great-grandson George.

The elder Aseniero was one of Rizal’s students when he was in exile in Dapitan. The then young Dapitanon was Rizal’s faithful student and friend who saw him die before a firing squad in Bagumbayan (Luneta) on December 30, 1896.

Read part of Aseniero’s memoirs: “Little did I anticipate the effect the mysterious gentleman would have on me, my family, the citizens of Dapitan, and my nation’s history.

“It was July 17, 1892.” –

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