Dapitan, a once sleepy town in Zamboanga Peninsula, is steadily becoming one of the booming travel destinations in the Philippines. Thanks to improvements in the tourism and public transport sectors, Dapitan City has made it to the list of premier tourist hotspots in most Philippine travel guides. The city lures foreign and local holidaymakers with its rich blend of natural and historical attractions. Dapitan, which welcomed around 300,000 tourists last year, is called the Shrine City of the Philippines.
Located some 650 kilometers from Manila, Dapitan served as the exile home of Dr. Jose Rizal from July 17, 1892 to July 31, 1896. It is no wonder, then, that practically all Dapitenos, both young and old, know more about the national hero than the average Filipino. Rizal Shrine is the primary tourist attraction in Dapitan. The 16-hectare estate in Barangay Talisay harbors numerous memorabilia of Rizal and replica of houses that he built for himself, his relatives, and his students. Getting to the Rizal Shrine is relatively cheap and easy. Just hail a tricycle and it will bring you to the historic landmark in about ten minutes. Some of the points of interest in the shrine are Casa Cuadrada, Casitas de Salud, and the Aqueduct.
After taking a trip down memory lane, relax and unwind at the famous Dakak Park Beach Resort. This world-class accommodation in Taguilon is located just 15 minutes from the Rizal Shrine. The privately owned is a favorite among foreign and local visitors like because of its white-sand beach that is perfect for swimming and diving. Various vacation packages are available at Dakak Park Beach Resort, which serves sumptuous meals all day long. Certainly, dining and staying at Dakak won't disappoint.
Dapitan is more than Rizal Shrine and Dakak Beach. It is not an ordinary city. Dapitan has also its share of colorful and exquisite events and festivals. To get a run for your money, travel to Dapitan in July when it celebrates the Kinabayo Festival. It is an exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars. The festival, which runs from July 16 to 25, coincides with the feast of St. James the Greater, the city's patron saint. Another equally entertaining event is the Handuraw Festival which honors the life and works of Rizal. This three-day event is held from December 28 to 30.
Recently, the local tourism sector received a major boost with the opening of the Gloria de Dapitan. This three-hectare commercial complex named after former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo houses a computer-operated bowling alley, a fitness gym, an arcade center, bars, and restaurants. Gloria de Dapitan is also the perfect place to unleash your decibel-breaking screams as it has a theme park with 31 fun rides to choose from.
Dapitan is also a haven for the hungry mouths, particularly seafood lovers. Indulge in a wide variety of dishes made from the freshest marine resources in the city. Aside from the posh hotels and resorts, there are ordinary restaurants offering eat-all-you-can seafood treats. There is so much more to discover in Dapitan. Tourists can also make golden memories by visiting the Cathedral of St. James the Greater, the Sta. Cruz Beach, the Ilihan Hill, and the Relief Map of Mindanao.
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Allan Leandro Merin has been writing for a living since 2008. After leaving a career at a daily electronic newspaper, he joined a web development outsourcing company and linked up with Local Philippines, the most comprehensive online directory of Philippine destinations, events, and attractions.