To Dapitanons, the Rizal Park and Shrine is hallowed ground. Here in this very place is where our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was exiled from 1892 to 1896 after the Spanish colonial government suspected him of involvement in rebellion.
Originally measuring 16 hectares, a sizable part had been eaten away by the sea. To stem further erosion, a seawall was constructed fronting the shrine. Subsequent reclamation approximately restored the eroded part to its original size, including the spot where the langka (jackfruit) tree once stood. It was under this tree that Rizal and Dr. Pio Valenzuela argued about the Katipunan and the planned uprising.
Today, the shrine is administered by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. A two-story modern building has been put up to serve as the Museo ni Jose Rizal or the Jose Rizal Museum.
Rizal, in a letter to Austrian Professor Ferdinand Blumentritt with whom he developed a close friendship, described the property as a picturesque piece of land beside a river much like the one in his childhood home of Calamba.
It was at this complex now referred to as the shrine that Rizal lived and worked in Dapitan, and it has quite a story.
In August 1892, a Spaniard brought with him from Manila some lottery tickets to Dapitan. Rizal jointly bought one with Captain Ricardo Carcinero, the politico-governor of Dapitan at that time, and Francisco Equilior, a Spaniard living in Dipolog, that luckily won second prize. The winnings totaled P20,000. Rizal’s share was P6,200. Out of this share, he gave P2,000 to his father and P200 to Basa, his friend from Hong Kong.
Rizal invested his remaining winnings in business and bought lands and built houses in what is now this shrine in Barangay Talisay.
In March 1893, Rizal then transferred to Talisay. Later, his mother Dona Teodora Alonso, his sisters, and some relatives, and a neighbor from Calamba, Laguna came and lived with him in Talisay until 1896.
Here, Rizal epitomized the existence of a man with a mission, making the best of every moment. He spent his lonely but productive and altruistic four years in banishment working as a rural physician, farmer, merchant, inventor, painter, sculptor, archaeologist, linguist, grammarian, teacher, architect, poet, biologist, composer, surveyor, and environmentalist, aside from being a lover as well as a father and a brother to the Dapitanons.
The court martial that tried Rizal imposed on him not only capital punishment but also the “payment of indemnity to the state in the amount of P100,000, the obligation to pay such being transferable to the heirs of the accused.”
On January 15, 1897, Rizal’s property in Barangay Talisay was confiscated by the Spanish authorities and Don Cosme Borromeo was appointed custodian of the sequestered assets. In 1913, the property was converted into a park by the government in memory of Rizal. The park was reconstructed and, in 1940, President Manuel Quezon issued Proclamation No. 616 declaring the site as National Rizal Park.
Take time to explore the landmarks and pay homage to the remarkable legacy of Rizal, a man who exemplified dedication, vision, and compassion for his fellow Filipinos and humanity as a whole.