Zamboanga del Norte

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Zamboanga Del Norte: The Twin-City Province

Zamboanga del Norte, or simply known as ZANORTE, is a province of the Philippines located in the Zamboanga Peninsula region in Mindanao. Its capital is Dipolog City and the province borders Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay to the south and Misamis Occidental to the east. The Sulu Sea lies to the northwest of Zamboanga del Norte. Zamboanga del Norte is the largest province of the Zamboanga Peninsula in terms of land area.

Dubbed as the Twin-City Province, Zamboanga del Norte has been made famous by the beauty and charm of the Orchid City of Dipolog and the historic, rustic quaintness of the Shrine City of Dapitan.

Decrying Spanish authority over his beloved country, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Philippine National Hero, lived in exile in faraway Dapitan City, then only a sleepy town in Mindanao. Here, he spent fruitfully his last four years in exile, from 1892 to 1896, to practice medicine, pursue scientific studies, keep with his artistic and literary endeavors, and widen his knowledge of languages. In Dapitan, Dr. Rizal found a school and a hospital, and became a farmer to prove to the people that farming is as good a profession as medicine.

The original estate of Dr. Rizal in Dapitan has been declared a national shrine and is being administered by the National Historical Institute. Hence, the city monicker, Shrine City of the Philippines. By the year 2020, Dapitan is poised to become the Dr. Jose Rizal Heritage Center of the Philippines, owing to the wealth of Rizal memorabilia and memorable places associated with the country beloved hero.

Zamboanga del Norte today is equally famous for Dakak Park and Beach Resort, the province's foremost natural attraction. The very popular Dakak Beach is most known for its beautifully shaped cove and powdery white sand, and as a diving mecca in Mindanao. Pristine blue waters, excellent dive sites with an abundance of coral reefs, and a magnificent sunset horizon characterizes this tropical Eden. Dakak Park and Beach Resort boasts 15 hectares of wooded land, a natural reservoir for native plants and animals, and a 750-meter private white-sand beach.

 

Economy

About half of the province's land area is devoted to agriculture. Corn, coconut, and rice are the major crops. The province being rich in marine and mineral sources, its fish production has accelerated through the development of fishponds. Commercial fishing has likewise steadily increased through the years, with the yellow fin tuna as the primary species.

Zamboanga del Norte is subdivided into 25 municipalities and 2 cities. These are further subdivided into 691 barangays, and clustered into 3 congressional districts.

 

Physical Features

Zamboanga del Norte comprises the northern portion of the Zamboanga Peninsula. It is bounded on the north and west by the Sulu Sea, on the east by Misamis Occidental, and on the south by Zamboanga del Sur.

The province occupies a total land area of 6,618 square kilometers. It has an average elevation of 243.8 meters, with Mt. Dabiak in Katipunan as the highest peak at 2,600 meters. Other parts, near the coastlines, are plains. The province's irregular coastline runs 400 kilometers from north to south.

Zamboanga del Norte has a mild and moderate climate due to evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year. Its southern portion has a longer dry season.

 

Brief History

The early history of Zamboanga del Norte is shared with that of Zamboanga City, which had been the center of the entire Mindanao area, most notably during the American era. When Zamboanga City became a chartered city on October 12, 1936, it encompassed the southern tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula and the island of Basilan, making it the largest city in the world in terms of land area.

This all changed in 1948 when Basilan was made into a separate chartered city, and further, when Republic Act No. 711, issued on June 6, 1952, created two more provinces out of Zamboanga City. One of these provinces was Zamboanga del Norte.

 

Tourist Attractions

Dakak Park and Beach Resort

A timeless experience.  Imagine strolling on a pristine powdery white sand beach, looking across a beautifully shaped island cove stretching out to deeper blue waters. Picture gazing a sunset horizon while lying on a hammock set under lush native trees, hearing the waves clash quietly against the shore.  The beautiful Dakak Park Beach Resort boasts of 15 hectares of wooded land, a natural reservoir for native plants and animals, providing the ideal setting for a 750-meter private beach blanketed with powdery white sand. Natural spring water and tumbling waterfalls feed our resort's two pools, whilst providing the ultimate hideaway at a private open air Jacuzzi where you can relax in the sauna and whirlpool amidst an atmosphere of blissful solitary refinement. Spend your days on a neon sailboard weaving skillfully among the masts, waterski on calm turquoise seas or discover vibrant marine life in crystal clear waters. The resort's Aqua Sports Centre becomes a mecca for watersports enthusiasts and for divers, the ultimate diving experience awaits as you explore Dakak's many nearby coral reefs. Entertainment and culinary treats abound as well. Dine on freshly grilled seafood, sample exotic Filipino dishes, continental cuisine and feast on an array of fresh fruits. Be treated to a cultural show or party the night away at Dakak Pirates bar or Fusion Disco. Get the family involved in a group sport, whether it be bowling, billiards, tennis, basketball or golf.

The Rizal Shrine

This is the major historical landmark of the city. It is the original estate of national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal which he acquired by purchase during his exile in Dapitan from 1892 to 1896. The Rizal Shrine is approximately two kilometers from the Dapitan City Hall. Its land area has been considerably restored to its original size of 16 hectares with the reclamation of 10,974 square meters.

Casa Residencia

A preserved structure of the main house which served as Rizal’s residence with his mother, sisters, close relatives and neighbors in Laguna in Dapitan. It is a one-room house encircled with a veranda, which is Japanese inspired. It is situated at precisely the best spot feng sui would dictate: standing in a slightly hgier ground than the flat lawn, open to the sea view in front but fully protected by the hill behind. A simple comfort room connected by wooden planks is found at the rear.

Casa Redonda

This is an octagonal dwelling which served as quarters for Rizal's pupils. It was later converted to a clinic and it was here where George Tauter, the foster father of Josephine Bracken, was operated on his eye.

Casa Redonda Pequena

A hexagonal structure situated at the right side of the main house which served as a chicken house.

Casitas Hospitales

There are two of these structures which were originally intended as tea houses which Rizal converted into clinics to accommodate patients from far-flung municipalities.

Casa Quadrada

Rizal built this hut as a dormitory to accommodate the growing number of pupils in Talisay School. The area underneath served as a workshop for the pupils.

Casitas de Salud

Originally, these were teahouses. When his fame as a physician spread to the entire Philippines and other countries, these were converted into wards to accommodate his patients from far-flung places.

The Rizaliana

A modern concrete building constructed in 1972 which houses all Rizaliana books, periodicals, and other historical exhibits. Part of it also serves as the office of the Rizal Shrine curator.

Mi Retiro Rock

In the old Dapitan history, this shaped rock was known as “Batong Lumayag” (sailing stone) for it appeared to be floating or sailing during high tide. Officially, this is called Mi Retiro Rock for it was here where Rizal wrote his longest poem, “Mi Retiro”, which was composed of 24 stanzas. Presently, it is within an artificial lagoon.

The Aqueduct

Rizal’s pupils and some other laborers built this aqueduct system or dam about 110 meters long and inclined walls of about 2.5 meters deep. A bamboo piping leads straight to the main haouse and kitchen. A forest and watershed in a higher-up steep hill ensure the supply of water to the dam.  The original dam still exists today.

The Amphitheater

An open-air auditorium with a seating capacity of 500 which was constructed beyond the Mi Retiro Rock.

Gloria de Dapitan

Aside from the enchanting Dakak Park and Beach Resort and the historic Rizal Shrine, which are among country’s favorite tourist destinations, Dapitan City can now boast of a world-class commercial center. Gloria de Dapitan, which is situated at Sunset Boulevard, is a one-of-its kind three hectare commercial complex.

Right at the very heart of Gloria de Dapitan is Gallera de Dapitan, which architects Fernando Mirasol designed. It has a deluxe cockpit which may also be used for live entertainment shows, boxing matches and other crowd-drawing competitions. There is fully-airconditioned Exodus Bowling Center, which is the first of its kind in northwestern Mindanao, and could be at par with best bowling lanes in Metro Manila. It has eight lanes and setting the pins are computer-aided. Those who enjoy boxing, aerobics and belly dancing, there are state-of-the-art fitness equipment at Powerhouse Gym-the biggest gym in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Fantasyland (Gloria de Dapitan)

The 200 million-peso amusement park in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte. Called Gloria’s Fantasyland, the amusement park promises children fun and excitement. It is the first and only amusement park in Visayas and Mindanao. Composed of 20 major rides, like the choco-cup ride, the midi-flume ride, the carousel, the swinger, the Apollo, the minitrain, a giant roller coaster, and interactive rides. The amusement park was inaugurated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last Ma 29, 2009. One of the attractions during the opening was the live 2-hour telecast of EAT BULAGA inside the Fantasyland grounds.

Relief Map of Mindanao

Across St. James Church is a giant map of Mindanao on a total area of roughly 900-square meters done by Dr. Jose Rizal with the help of Fr. Francisco de Paula Sanchez, S.J. Intended as a device for teaching history and geography to townsfolk, it also contributed to the beautification of the town plaza.

It is of great interest to recall that Fr. Sanchez was Rizal's favorite teacher in Greek and Latin classics in the Ateneo. Sanchez arrived in Dapitan in August 1892 upon instructions from Spanish church authorities to convince Rizal to return to the Catholic faith. Rizal refused, but he and Fr. Sanchez remained good friends until his execution at Bagumbayan Field.

Ilihan Hill

To protect settlements from foreign invaders, the Spaniards constructed military fortresses, among them, Fort de Dapitan in 1762. The fort was strategically placed atop Ilihan Hill in the poblacion overlooking Dapitan Bay.

A stone wall was built along Ilihan's slopes and the fort mounted cannons to command the area. Relics of Fort de Dapitan are still visible. Two of its cannons have been installed at the Plaza across the Dapitan City Hall.

Aliguay & Silinog Islands

These are island barangays located roughly 10 to 14 kilometers, respectively from Tag-olo Point. Both islands have white sand beaches and rich aquatic resources. Both are accessible by pumpboats.

Sta. Cruz Beach

Two significant dates in history claim this beach as the point of debarkation. When Fr. Pascual Acufia, S.J., arrived in Dapitan in 1607 and baptized the natives, he brought with him the Cross, the symbol of Christianity, and first touched land at Sta. Cruz Beach. It was on the same spot centuries later where Dr. Jose Rizal disembarked from the S.S. Cebu as an exile destined to spend about four fruitful and productive years in a place which now is a shrine to his martyrdom.

Saint James Church

A lasting heritage and symbol of Christianization of the region and locality, Saint James Church and the Catholic Rectory are two edifices that have with stood the test of time and the elements. It is also a place where Rizal hear mass every sunday during his exile. Over the years, the old Spanish masonry and architecture are still recognizable. The facades and materials of these buildings are living evidence of their cultural and historical significance.

Our Lourdes Grotto - rocky hillock located almost at the Southwest foot of Ilihan Hill.

Rizal’s Landing Site       

The site where Rizal disembarked from the steamer “S.S. Cebu” located at Santa Cruz Beach. In 1565 with the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, a 20-foot cross was erected to symbolize the propagation of Christianity in the area. Dr. Jose P. Rizal landed 7:00 o’clock P.M. on July 17, 1892 to begin the life of an exile in Dapitan. With Captain Delgras and three artillery men, they walked through Sta. Cruz Street with a “Farol de Combate” to the Casa Real where he was presented to Don Ricardo Carnicero, Spanish Military Governor of the District.

Dapitan City Hall

The old “municipio” in 1890s, its structural and architectural features were patterned after those of the Casa Real.  Its interior had undergone several changes but the exterior remained through the years thus, adding antique ambiance to the city plaza.

Dapitan City Plaza

The plaza which was designed, developed and beautified by Dr. Jose P. Rizal with the assistance of Governandor Ricardo Carnicero during his stay in Dapitan. He planned to make it comparable with the one he saw during his journey to Europe. Rizal provided the lighting system around the area (tree trunks with coconut oil lamps). The development was placed in September 1892.

Acacia Trees

Dr. Jose P. Rizal used to plant acacia trees to add beautification to the plaza of poblacion during his stay in Dapitan. Some of these acacia trees are still standing in the plaza of the city.

Dapitan Bay

A stretch of clean beach on the northern section of the poblacion, with sunsets more beautiful than the fabled ones at Manila Bay. Perfectly safe for swimming (water depth is gradual with no undertow).

Barangay Daro

From here, one gets a breathtaking view of the Sulu Sea north and east of the city stretching as far as the municipality of Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte and Balingao in Misamis Occidental.

Holy Rosary Cathedral

Erected by the Spanish friars sometime in 1895, records show that the original altar was designed by Dr. Jose Rlzal, the sketch of the altar was patterned after that of San Ignacio Church in Manila.

Sta. Cruz Marker

Spot where migrating Boholanos from the Visayas landed on and planted the cross for Christianity on May 3, 1905.

City Hall Building

The same edifice which was erected and inaugurated by then Governor General of Mindanao John J. Pershing on July 1, 1913 wherein Dipolog was formerly declared as a municipality.

Tulwanan Village (Old Town Site of Dipolog)

Sitio Tulwanan in Barangay Lugdungan is the original settlement of Dipolog's early inhabitants, the Subanons. About 6 kilometers from the city proper and along the Dipolog River which the Subanons used to transport their products to trading posts and markets in the early days. To preserve its historical significance and for the younger generation to see and reflect on their cultural history, the City Government constructed replicas of Subanen houses in the site.

3003 Steps to Linabo Peak

Concrete steps winding along tunnel of verdant trees lead to a panoramic vista of sky, plains, and sea and a spectacular view of the twin cities of Dipolog and Dapitan, This is Dipolog's highest elevation point - 486 meters above sea level. The 14 Stations of the Cross punctuate the way up. At the peak is a community chapel for prayer and contemplation.

Magsaysay Park

A landscaped park providing an oasis of greenery right in the center of Dipolog City. It is a converging point for many people from all walks of life for simple strolling and relaxing. The hectare-sized lot just beside the City Hall and fronting the Holy Rosary Cathedral is an ideal place for small outdoor meetings in a natural setting.

OlSCA Pamansalan Forest Park

These 64 hectares of lush forests, flora and fauna give trekkers an unforgettable experience with nature at its best, and is a showcase of nature conservation and ecological balance.  It is home to exotic birds as a declared bird sanctuary.

Dipolog Beaches

A velvet stretch of fine gray sand, exquisite solitude as the fiery sun dies in the horizon to the onset of twilight, broken only by the distant cries of fishermen returning to shore with the day's catch.

Sungkilaw Falls - This splendid gift of nature gives one a wonderful view of the clear foamy water that gushes down from a seemingly dry formation of huge pockmarked rocks.

ZN Eco Park & Plant Tissue Culture

An ecological mini-park and Plant Tissue laboratory managed by the provincial government of Zamboanga del Norte located at Upper Turno, Dipolog City.

COGON ECOTOURISM COMPLEX

Dipolog City's premier ecological destination and a favorite site of visiting local and foreign nature enthusiasts.

Cogon EcoTourism Park

So named after its entrance location in the hinterlands of Barangay Cogon, this environmental rest area park and forest preserve stretches into the neighboring Municipality of Polanco and covers a total land area of 344 hectares.

An upshot of massive tree-planting activities regularly undertaken since its establishment as a reforestation area way back 1958, the area now hosts a range of mature planted trees and other important floral varieties. Within the park's vast expanse also lies a 40-hectare natural forest that is home to at least ten documented rare fauna species such as the Philippine monkey, the Pigeon Dove, the Philippine Turtle Dove, the Monitor Lizard and fruit bats, among others.

Just a few meters from the park's entrance is located the Aviary, where visitors can catch a glimpse of exotic birds endemic to the area.

Further ahead is an exact replica of a typical Subanen Village where real Subanen tribesmen actually livie within the buffer zone of the project area in their colorful native costume and perform traditional Subanen dances and rituals for the benefit of interested visiting groups. This is also where visitors can witness Subanen women as they demonstrate the art of weaving baskets and other novelty items mainly from Nito vines.

In nearby Barangay, another natural wonder awaits visitors with the cool, cascading waters of Sungkilaw Falls.

Where nature is at its best, the Cogon EcoTourism Complex (Cogon EcoTourism Park and Sungkilaw Falls) offer such exciting outdoor sports and adventures as camping, trail trekking, bush waiting, rappelling, canoneering, swimming and Tyrolean traverse.

Alluring Aliguay Island – explore the mysterious yet fascinating coral reefs surrounding Aliguay Island and be astounded by the rich underwater habitat. The perfect hideaway from the city’s busy life. Enjoy the cool sand under the sun.

Tantalizing Piñahon Island – a haven of natural beauty where you can truly relax and enjoy, then bask under the sun and enjoy the white sand beach of Piñahon Island.

Overhwelming Cave Conquest – have that once-in-a-lifetime adventure inside the Libuton Caves and discover complete cave formations. Visit the bats in their natural hideout and get a pleasant surprise with the amazing skylight at the end of the tunnel. Feast your eyes on the grandiose formation of the stalactites and stalagmites.

Towering Situbo Falls – one of the many still unspoiled waterfalls in the Philippines, resplendent, mighty, and powerful as it thunders down to a refreshing cool pool, waiting to be discovered.

River Trekking to Sungkilaw Falls - for a nature lover who wishes to experience outdoor adventure as an alternative to caving, discover river trekking. Whether for a serious or just a leisurely outing, river trekking is an escape to another amazing world of adventure. Glide beneath overhanging trees with the rustle of animals moving about, the call of birds, and look out for creatures below the surface. Be rewarded with scenic hill views or spectacular limestone formations on the way and end the trek at a waterside stop for a meal amidst another splendor of nature, Sungkilaw Falls.

Dapitan City Heritage - get up close and personal with the past.  Know more about the Philippines’ national hero – his life, works and passion. Visit Dapitan’s century-old houses and church , the aged fire trees and the 200-year-old baluno tree, and the indigenous teaching aid carabao-grass–made map of Mindanao by Jose P. Rizal.

Dipolog City - experience that quiet and scenic place in the South with the unique blend of the traditional and the contemporary, bargain for fresh tropical fruits such as lanzones, mangosteen, rambutan, marang, manga, and caimito. Bring home famous local products like bottled sardines, uyap, ginamos, home madew corned beef, and Spanish Chorizo, gift your friends with delicacies as tinagaktak, bakya and lintoy. Or just shop around for Muslim clothing such as the malong and the batik.

 

List of Accommodations

  • Jardin de La Vina Hotel - 149 Governor Alvarez Avenue, Dipolog / Zamboanga
  • GV Hotel Dipolog City - Quezon Avenue, Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Sur, Dipolog / Zamboanga
  • Top Plaza Hotel - Echavez St.Corner Quezon Avenue, Dipolog / Zamboanga
  • Adasa Beach Resort - Sunset Boulevard, Dapitan City
  • Aplaya Vida Lodge - Sunset Boulevard, Dapitan City
  • Dapitan City Homestay Association - Sangguniang Panlungsod, Dapitan City
  • Dapitan City Resort Hotel - Sunset Boulevard, Dapitan City
  • Elizabeth Hotel - C.P Garcia St, Dipolog City
  • Casa Jose Pension House - Bonifacio St, Estaka, Dipolog City
  • CL Inn - Rizal Ave.,Dipolog City

Getting There

Visitors can reach the province of Zamboanga Del Norte via Dipolog City:

  • By Air: From Manila, Cebu Pacific Air offers daily flights to Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga Del Norte. Traveling by air takes approximately an hour.
  • By sea: There are ferries that offer transportation from Manila to Dipolog City. These ferries often take the Port of Pulauan in Dapitan City and from there one can take public transportations to get to the neighboring cities. The Strong Republic Nautical Highway (RORO) could also be taken. It takes less than 48 hours to get to Dipolog City.
  • By land: Busses of the Rural Transit and the Evergood Trans Industries, Inc. travel to Dipolog City.
  • From Dipolog Airport, go to the Dipolog Bus terminal. Travel time: 15-20 minutes.