Dapitan City is rich in historical treasure, Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero spent four years in exile in this city which established the city’s identity as a unique and historical place in the Philippines. The relief Map of Mindanao laid out by Rizal in front of Saint James Church, the nipa replica of his residence, the octagonal structure and other clinics where he treated his patients still exists and it is well preserved at the Jose Rizal Shrine.
After arriving at the Santa Cruz beach on July 17, 1892, Rizal then proceeded to the Casa Real where he was presented to Don Ricardo Carnicero, the Spanish Military Governor of Dapitan at that time. It was then the official residence and administration building of the politico-military general of the district. The Casa Real was almost similar to the Old City Hall, except that the Casa Real had three balconies: one in front, one each on the left and right side.
Rizal lived there until his transfer to Talisay, the present Rizal Shrine in March 1893. It was demolished in the 1920’s to give way for the construction of a medical personnel dormitory of the old Rizal Memorial Hospital by the Americans. At present, the Dapitan City Public Attorney’s Office occupies the site.
Dapitan City Plaza (“Liwasan ng Dapitan”) also known as the Town Square is the plaza which Dr. Jose P. Rizal beautified and developed during his exile. With the assistance of Spanish Politico-Military Governor of Dapitan, Gov. Ricardo Carnicero, Rizal made the Dapitan City Plazacomparable to the ones he saw in Europe.
Dapitan City Plaza has an estimated land area of 1 hectare and it is laid out in the tradition rectilinear Spanish colonial manner. The plaza already existed when Dr. Jose P. Rizal arrived in Dapitan on July 17, 1892. Oil lamps were hung on tress and cut tree trunks were placed around the plaza as part of Carnicero’s project. Rizal planted white santans, red gumamelas and acacia trees.
Before Dr. Jose P. Rizal became the Philippines‘ national hero, the kiosk was in the middle area of the plaza. The kiosk was moved to the northwest side to give way to the monument in honor of Rizal. The Dapitan City Plaza has maintained its original design except for its elevated border which was constructed in 1996.
In Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s monument, there is a snippet from one of his letters in 1893 written in Spanish which states: “Yo estoy dispuesto a hacer todo lo que pueda en obsequio de este pueblo. No tengo inconveniente ninguno en quedarme para siempre en este distrito”. Which is translated in English as: “I’m willing to do everything I can for the sake of the people. I have no problem to stay forever in this district”.