Some of the Dapitan City info: nicknames are Capital of Mindanao, Rizal City of the south and Shrine City of the Philippines. The last two nicknames come from Jose Rizal. A national hero in the Philippines. The place where Rizal was exiled by the Spaniards for revolutionary activities. Located in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, Dapitan is a small but growing city. The population as per 2019 is around 90.000. The size of the city is around 390 square km (150 sq mile) and that brings the density of the city on about 210/km2.
As a city or town should have, a local market area where you can buy items as fresh fish, fresh meat, household items and some clothes, but not in the size of tall people. The market could offer much more in variety to make it a valuable place for shopping. Beside the market there are Western Unions and health clinics that do not always provide what you’re looking for. Dipolog hospitals at 13 km distance might provide better or more help in both clinics as shopping malls.
Church & Bus Terminal
At the center of Dapitan you find a very peaceful area with a sort of park and bordering the park a big church. The name of this area is City Square Plaza. The name of the Church is St. James the Greater Church. This person is Dapitan’s patron saint. The church was built in 1871 and has original walls of 1 meter thick. Most of the rest of the church has undergone renovations. Inside is a historical spot where Jose Rizal the national hero stood each Sunday during the mass. Many local wedding ceremonies taking place too in the church.
The bus terminal might give a wrong impression in that name. It’s more of 3 or 4 parking places for small buses. This at a building where you might be able to buy tickets although you can buy the ticket inside the bus to Dipolog which has a 13 km distance for 25 peso ($0.50). The bus stops at any place you want to get out but the final stop when you come from Dipolog is at the edge of the market.
Dapitan City Square Plaza
The park in front of it has the name City Square Plaza which was developed by Jose Rizal during his exile. The size is about 1 hectare and he made it comparable to the ones he saw in Europe. When you stand in front of the church facing the park, you will have a small food plaza in the evenings straight ahead at the end of the park on the right side of the road.
The road you see at the left side of the park has the police station. The park is at anytime of the day a safe place to walk, sit or hangout and for kids to play. In the middle of the park you’ll find a statue of Jose Rizal. The road next to the police station leads you to the sea side where you can find the statues of Rizal and companions as place where he set foot on land in 1565 from the steamer Cebu. Also a moment that Dapitan got introduced to Christianity.
As mentioned, a national hero. Jose Rizal who was exiled to Dapitan City in 1892. Rizal and a Spanish Governor from Dipolog won a lotto bet that gave them the opportunity to buy this 10 hectares piece of land where now Rizal Shrine is located. You can visit the shrine named after him at the edge of town. Just over the bridge that also leads to Dakak beach resort. The place of the shrine looks at the left side of the entrance over the sea. It has a museum immediately after the entrance gate at the right hand side. Furthermore it has several wooden or bamboo lodges that resemble the houses of him, his mother and sister and for other purposes.
No entry fee has to be paid at the shrine as per June ’19, neither for the museum. The place was declared a national shrine in 1973. To visit this shrine at Dapitan can take you around 1-2 hr walk. As it is in a forest environment it can be quite humid to walk around. You walk from lodge to lodge, statue to statue and at the end you can choose to walk back partly over a wooden kind of bridge where you get to see more of the structure of water collection at the time. A tricycle will bring you to the shrine for max 12 peso ($0.25) from the city plaza.
Gloria is the name of what you could call an activity area. When you need an outing, a hangout with friends, restaurants of all sorts or a place for a beer, Gloria is the place to be. Any tricycle brings you for 8 peso ($0.16) which is a fixed rate per person for all tricycles with a destination within town. From the Square Plaza to the bus stop or Gloria. A tricycle is a motorbike taxi with three wheels whereby you sit next to the driver instead of behind him. It can take up to 4 passengers but they’re rather be small Asians than tall or obese people.
Gloria compound is free of entrance. With Beehive you have a place to drink and listen to a live band. You can go for the movies in a cinema for a ticket price of 250 peso ($5). With choice out of many restaurants with all kinds of food from cheap to somewhat more expensive, you have plenty of choice for a good evening. Colorful Fountain’s and activities for kids make it a great place to go for such a small city. Even people from Dipolog and other areas come to visit. Gloria as a whole is definitely a recommendable place to visit.
Fantasyland is an amusement park within the boundaries of Gloria but doesn’t belong to the free entry part of Gloria. The park is actually using some kind of fantasy prices. A 1000 peso ($20) is a lot of money for locals and many citizens of the Philippines. You hardly see any foreigners in the city or at Gloria. This is probably the reason why Fantasyland has hardly any visitors and you wonder how long such amusement park will exist this way. Lack of visitors give at some places discounts. The entry fee from 5 – 8 pm for example is only 250 peso but even then you only see a handful of visitors. Especially during midweek days.
Regarding the activities that are to be done or seen at Fantasyland. For some foreigners it will be somewhat disappointing. Most fall under the category below 16 years of age. Roller coasters that don’t have much height and the decoration of some duck/dragon doesn’t attract many people. Even for a discount price. The attractions are empty or are going with only one or two people in it. A space rocket is there. A small 5D movie hall. Throwing basketballs or darts at balloons whereby you can win a teddy bear but with a choice of just 3 different ones that look rather dirty or old and a price for 3 throws of $2 this isn’t attracting either. Swings with slow speed, trains for kids and much more attractions that aren’t attractive makes Fantasyland not really recommendable for 1000 peso, but could be for the 250 discount price though.