Dapitan City is a 2nd class city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 68,178 people in 13,560 households. It is historically significant as being the place where the national hero, Jose Rizal was exiled by the Spaniards.
Dapitan City is politically subdivided into 50 barangays.
Rizal in Dapitan
Rizal was implicated in the activities of the nascent rebellion and in July of 1892 was deported to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga (in Mindanao). There he built a school, a hospital and a water supply system. He taught and engaged in farming and horticulture. Abaca, known as Manila hemp, then the vital raw material for cordage, was a major product.
The boys' school, in which they learned English, a prescient if unusual subject then, was considered light years ahead of its time. It was much along the lines of Gordonstoun and wholly in tune with Baden Powell in its aims of inculcating a resourceful and self-sufficient character in young men. They would later enjoy successful lives as farmers and honest government officials. One, a Muslim, became a Datu, and another, Jose Aseniero, who was with Rizal through the life of the school, became Governor of Zamboanga.
In Dapitan, the Jesuits mounted a great effort to secure his return to the fold, led by Father Francisco de Paula Sanchez, his former professor, who failed in his mission. The task was resumed by Father Pablo Pastells, the most prominent member of the Order, in correspondence with the prisoner on profound philosophical questions. In what a theologian considers a magnificent, timeless and revealing letter, Rizal sails close to the ecumenism familiar to us today:
"We are entirely in accord in admitting the existence of God. How can I doubt his when I am convinced of mine. Whoso recognizes the effect recognizes the cause. To doubt God is to doubt one's own conscience, and in consequence, it would be to doubt everything; and then what is life for? Now then, my faith in God, if the result of a ratiocination may be called faith, is blind, blind in the sense of knowing nothing. I neither believe nor disbelieve the qualities which many attribute to him; before theologians' and philosophers' definitions and lucubrations of this ineffable and inscrutable being I find myself smiling. Faced with the conviction of seing myself confronting the supreme Problem, which confused voices seek to explain to me, I cannot but reply: 'It could be; but the God that I foreknow is far more grand, far more good: Plus Supra!...I believe in (revelation); but not in revelation or revelations which each religion or religions claim to possess. Examining them impartially, comparing them and scrutinizing them, one cannot avoid discerning the human 'fingernail' and the stamp of the time in which they were written... No, let us not make God in our image, poor inhabitants that we are of a distant planet lost in infinite space. However brilliant and sublime our intelligence may be, it is scarcely more than a small spark which shines and in an instant is extinguished, and it alone can give us no idea of that blaze, that conflagration, that ocean of light. I believe in revelation, but in that living revelation which surrounds us on every side, in that voice, mighty, eternal, unceasing, incorruptible, clear, distinct, universal as is the being from whom it proceeds, in that revelation which speaks to us and penetrates us from the moment we are born until we die. What books can better reveal to us the goodness of God, his love, his providence, his eternity, his glory, his wisdom? 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork'."
It was delicadeza in the sternest argument.
Ever his best friend, Blumentritt sustained him, keeping him in touch with European friends and fellow-scientists who wrote a steady stream of letters which arrived in Dutch, French, German and English and which baffled the censors no end, often delaying their transmittal. Those four years of his exile coincided with the development of the Philippine Revolution from inception and to its final breakout, which, from the viewpoint of the court which was to try him, suggested his complicity in it. He condemned the uprising, although all the members of the Katipunan made him honorary president and used his name as a war-cry. He was to face a court not of reason but one of emotion.
Near the end of his exile he met and courted the adopted daughter of a patient, an Asian-Irish woman named Josephine Bracken. He was unable to obtain an ecclesiastical marriage because he would not return to the religion of his youth and was not known to be clearly against revolution. He nonetheless considered Josephine to be his wife and the only person mentioned in the poem "Mi Ultimo Adios" (My Last Farewell) in the line: "Farewell, sweet stranger, my friend, my joy..."