by Alan S. Cajes
Jose P. Rizal said that he spent “four years, thirteen days, and a few hours” in Dapitan, now a third-class city in Zamboanga del Norte. The Spanish regime arrested and exiled the 31-year old surgeon to Dapitan from 17 July 1892 to 31 July 1896 for fear that he was sowing the seed of a movement towards independence.
In a letter to his friend, Fernando Blumentritt, on 5 April 1896, Rizal explained that Dapitan was “founded by Boholanos before or after the coming of the first Spaniards” and that “Dapitan means a place of rendezvous or meeting-place.” As a disclosure, let me state that I am a Boholano thus I was excited for the opportunity to visit the place during the holidays and gather data on Rizal’s ecological way of life in a home away from home. I have written elsewhere about the evacuation of some Boholanos to Dapitan. However, there is another narrative claiming that the evacuees were actually conquerors of the Boholanos and that they were forced out of their Mansasa-Dauis settlement as consequence of the raid by Ternate sometime in 1563. This article, however, has a simpler aim -- to piece together some of Rizal’s ideas and feelings during his banishment as embodied in his separate writings.
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