Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte, is located in the southernmost island of Mindanao of the Philippines. I was just going along with some relatives who planned the trip so I had no expectations at all. I just knew there’d be a beach and a resort.
As soon as we stepped off the plane into Dipolog Airport, the very accommodating staff of Dakak Park and Beach Resort (where we were staying) assisted us and collected all of our luggage. They also had an airport transfer which brought us to our first stop, lunch at Inato Lang! where we met the rest of the gang. The Filipino restaurant is located in Dampa, a dining destination along the Liboran River. It’s in a bahay kubo style (native hut) that featured an acoustic singer and guitarist to really create the perfect ambience while you enjoy your meal.
Our group availed of a city tour from Fantasyland Travel and Tours that took us to some of the main cultural sites along with a tour guide (useful for taking all your photos! oh and of course, provide us with information haha). One of the stops we made was at the landmark where Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, disembarked off the steamer, ‘Cebu’. Jose Rizal is Dapitan’s pride and joy as back in 1892, it was in Dapitan where he was exiled while under the Spanish rule. He taught, built a school, a hospital and established the city’s water supply system.
Our next stop was at Rizal’s Mindanao Relief Map. A beautification project for the city and a geographical guide that Rizal built for his students. Grassy forms represented land while blue paint acted as the seas. So interesting to see how teaching was back then while accessing a map can literally be done at the click of a button today. In front of this landmark was the St. James Church of Dapitan. An old church built honouring the Patron Saint of Dapitan, St. James the Greater, back in the late 1800s.
We then headed to Rizal Shrine, Jose Rizal’s estate where he spent his years in exile. It’s located in Barangay Talisay featuring rebuilt houses made of bamboo – in other words, your typical bahay kubo. Different structures made up the estate – Rizal’s main house, his students’ dormitory, health houses (today’s equivalent to medical clinics) and the dam which was part of the water system that Rizal built. During our visit, the Rizaliana Museum was closed down for renovation work so we didn’t get to see it, but know that it features photos, artifacts and other pieces that once belonged to Rizal.
The following day, we went to Gloria’s Fantasyland in the evening. Dapitan City’s own version of Disneyland haha. It was…interesting to say the very least. Almost gave an abandoned theme park vibe to it but I made it out alive so maybe looks are just deceiving? Quite a number of rides were closed down too! I’d assume it could be due to the lack of maintenance. And barely anyone was really at the park. Sketchy.
But the park did offer some “fun” parts to it like the Grand Night Parade: Festival of Colors (haha questionable on the “grand” part though). There was an amazing acrobatic performance to start the show off, followed by a fire show by GMA7’s Bet ng Bayan finalist Jomar Abjelina. One word: wow. Best part of the night show. It was then followed by a Parade of Cultures. Nothing amazing really haha but I guess it’s exciting for the little ones. The show then supposedly ends with a fireworks display. Unfortunately due to rain that evening, it was cancelled.
Our last stop at the park was the Horror House. I was never a fan of haunted houses or anything scary in general. But the group convinced me so I went for it. Despite the disappointing rest of the evening, this definitely topped it off! So much fun. Highly recommend it.
Overall, Fantasyland was…well…no Disneyland. I’d say good enough of a theme park for one in the province but definitely don’t expect too much. If you have kids, go for it. If its an all-adults group, skip it.
The rest of our Dipolog trip was spent at Dakak Park and Beach Resort, where we stayed the three days we were there. Stay tuned for my next post on that!