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Zamboanga Del Norte

Capital: Dipolog

No. of towns: 24

Land area: 6,075 sq. kms.

Location. Lying at the northwestern portion of Mindanao, it is bounded on the north and west by the Sulu Sea, on the south by Zamboanga del Sur and on the east by Misamis Occidental.

Overview. Like its twin sister Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte has been endowed by Mother Nature with thickly forested mountains, fertile valleys and a sea bountiful in aquatic resources.

To appreciate Zamboanga del Norte, one must take a look at its two cities, Dapitan City and Dipolog City.

Dapitan City

Brief history. The etymology of the word "Dapital" is history itself. It tells of Datu Pagbuaya, who left his realm in the island of Panglao, Bohol, to escape the Ternatans in whose hands his brother Dailisan met a fateful end. With Pagbuaya were his followers numbering 800 families. Uncertain about their destination when asked about the exodus, the followeres would simply reply, "Didto sa Pagadapitan". "Dapit" in Visaya means "to invite".

They crossed the sea to Northern Mindanao or the so-called "Dakung Yuta" (literally "big land"), and after several days of travel, came upon a bay with a picturesque hill beyond and decided to settle here. Thus the historic settlement of Dapitan.

The permanent Dapitan mission was founded in 1629, headed by a Jesuit missionary, Pedro Gutierrez. The Spanish authorities adopted the local form of government that was already existing then, but the officials were under the absolute control of the Spanish government. The settlement came to be known as "pueblo", the Datu "Capitan" or "Cabesa" or Cabeza de Barangay".

Dapitan remained a part of the Zamboaga province until 1952 when it was divided into two provinces: Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga de Sur

Dapitan became a chartered city on June 22, 1963 by virtue of R.A. No. 3811, signed by President Diosdado Macapagal. Formally organized on November 12, 1963, Dapitan became the first chartered city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. It is officially called the "Shrine City of the Philippines". Dapitan City holds a special place in the history of our country today because it once sheltered our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, while in exile from July 17, 1892 to July 31, 1896.

Geography. Dapitan City lies on the northwestern coast of the island of Mindanao, with approximate geographical coordinates of 8 50' north latitude and 123 30' east longtitude. It is a double wedgeshaped mass of land bouded on the north by the Sulu Sea, and linked on the south by the municipalities of Mutia and La Libertad, on the east by the municipalities of Sibutad and Rizal, on the west by Dipolog City and the municipality of Polanco.

The city has a total land area of 29,521 hectares. It is 14 kms. away from Dipolog City.

Political Subdivisions. The fifty stars on the official seal of the city represents the 50 barangays under it.

Climate. The climate of Dapitan has been classified to be of the fourth type: rainfall more or less evenly distributed throughout the year. The Weather Bureau indicates the frequency of tropical cyclones in this part of the country to be rare 1%. Warm months are May and June, and the cold months are December, January and February.

Language / Dialect. 90% of the total population of Dapitan City speak Cebuano, while the remaining 10% speak Subanon, Bicol, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo and Chabacano.

Because of the relatively high rate of literacy, the local residents can speak English and Pilipino, while a few of the old folks can speak Spanish.

Major Industries. The absence of large manufacturing firms more than emphasizes the economy of Dapitan which is fundamentally agricultural. It is even safe to say that 80% of its constituents are involved in agriculture one way or another for their means of livelihood. The five leading agricultural crops are coconut, palay, corn and fruit trees such as bananas.

Points of Interest


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

Casa Cuadrada. This is the main house which served as our hero´s residence together with the members of his family who came to visit him very often. It has faithfully reconstructed in its original light native materials.

Casa Redonda. An octagonal dwelling which served as the pupils´quarters. It was later converted to a clinic and it was here where George Taufer, the foster father of Josephine Bracken, was operated on his eye.

Casa Rodonda Pequana. A hexagonal structure which served as a chicken house

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

Aqueduct. A reservoir which served as a good water system. Bamboo tubes used to connect the diversion canal to the kitchen and lavatory. The original dam still exists today.

Mi Retiro Rock. It is a natural heart-shaped rock so called because it was here where Dr. Rizal is known to have scribbled beautiful verses of his poem, "Mi Retiro" and "Himmne a Talisay". It is also known as "Batong Lumayag" as it appears to be afloat during high tide. Presently it is within an artificial lagoon.

Amphitheater. An open air auditorium with a seating capacity of 500 which was constructed beyond the Mi Retiro Rock; and,

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.

The Relief Map of Mindanao. Across St. James Church is a giant Map of Mindano on a total area of roughly 900 square meters done by Dr. Rizal with the assistance of Dr. Francisco de Paula Sanches, S.J. It was intended as motivating device for teaching history and geography to the townsfolk and at the same time contributed to the beautification efforts of the town plaza.

City Plaza. The present City Plaza is the very plaza which Dr. Rizal developed and beautified with the assistance of Gov. Ricardo Carnicero. His plan was to beautify it to make it comparable with one he saw in Europe.

Catholic Rectory and the St. James Church. A lasting heritage and a symbol of the christianization of the region and the locality, St. James and the Catholic Rectory are two edifices that have withstood the tests of time. While decades have lapsed into centuries and bigger and more permanent structures were constructed, the old Spanish masonry and architecture, however, were retained. The old facade and materials of these buildings are living evidences of their cultural and historical significance.

Marker at Sta. Cruz Beach. The spot where Priest Pascual Acuña, S.J. arrived in Dapitan in 1607 and baptized the natives, bringing with him the cross, the symbol of Christianity. It is also the same spot centuries later where Rizal embarked from the SS Cebu.


Ilihan Hill. To protect the thriving settlements from foreign invasions, the Spanish government constructed military fortresses. One of these was "Fort de Dapitan" which was established in 1762 at about the same time as Fort Pilar in Zamboanga City. "Fort de Dapitan" was strategically constructed on top of Ilihan Hill which is located in the poblacion overlooking Dapitan Bay. A stone wall was constructed along its slopes and a guard house with mounted cannons fortified it. Relics of this ancient military fortress, however, and have been installed at the City Plaza, just across the City Hall.

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

Aliguay and Silinog Island. These are island barangays located roughly 10 - 14 kms., respectively from Tag-olo Point. Both islands have white sand beaches and are rich in aquatic resources. Accessible by pumpboats.

Panoramic View of the Ridge at Barangay Daro. 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 Baliangao in Misamis Occidental. Accessible by pumpboats and land transportation.


"Sinulog" and "Kinabayo" (July 24-25). A 2-day celeration of the annual patronal feast of St. James. The "Sinulog", a dance procession and "KInabayo", an exotic and colorful pageant re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars, particularly the Battle of Covadonga where the Spanish forces under Gen. Pelagio took their last stand against the Saracens. They were able to reverse the tide of the war with the miraculous apparrition of St. James, the Apostle. The addition of local color and innovations has made this annual revelry a popular attraction which has brought thousands of visitors to the revelry to the city.

City Anniversary (November 12). The yearly celebration of the organization of the city usually includes a beauty contest and pageant, an agro-industrial fair which is the showcase of the finest products of the agro-industrial sector of the city.

City Charter day (June22). The charter of the city of Dapitan was signed by President Diosdado Macapagal on June22, 1963, hence is being observed as the charter anniversary.

Rizal´s Death Anniversary (December 30). Declared as a national holiday, this occasion in Dapitan is highlighted by the annual Rizal Day lecture by eminent and distinguished speakers invited by the National Historical Institute.

Dipolog City

Brief history / Origin of the Name. Dipolog started as a tribal settlement of the Subanons, the "river people", who were a part of the second wave of Malay migration to the Philippines. Its earliest recorded history, however, dates back as early as 1834, when civil government was organized by the Spanish Provincial Governor of Misamis, under whose jurisdiction it then belonged, with the appointment of a "Capitan" as town executive, "Teniente" and an "Aguacil" to maintain law and order.

Tradition says that in that year, a spanish Recollect missionary arrived in Tulawan and upon meeting a native who pointed to the west saying, "Di...Pag" meaning ("across the river"), proceeded to the said place. Upon raching the new townsite pointed to by the native, the "Padre" named the place "Dipag". Through the years this was corrupted by mispronunciations and the inter-mingling of Visayan and Subano words made it into what the place is named today - Dipolog.

Dipolog became a full-pledged city under the province of Zamboanga del Norte on February 1, 1970, after R A No. 5320 was signed into a law by then President Ferdinand Marcos on July 21, 1969.

Geography. Dipolog City , together with Dapitan City, make up the two major cities of the province of Zamboanga del Norte, which in turn makes it the second largest province in Region IX.

Dipolog alone has a land area of 13,628 hectares of mostly rolling country with wide lowlands long its western coast facing Sulu Sea. Situated at the tip of western Mindanao, it is nown as the "Gateway to Western Mindanao".

Political Subdivisions. Dipolog City has 15 rural barangay which are all connected with feeder roads to the city proper which in turn is composed of 5 districts. The lowland area of the city has some 3,000 hectares of fertile ricefields dotted with small of coconut groves stretching from Barangay Punta in the south to the Ducana of Sicayab in the north, some kms. in length.

Climate. The climate of Dipolog is generally favorable. The cool and fresh air from the eastern highlands mixes with the air of Sulu Sea. The city has distinct dry and wet season. The dry season is from February to April while the wet is from May to January.

Language / Dialect. Ceuano is the main dealect of the Dipolognons. Likewise, English is widely spoken, especially among students, teachers and learned townsfolk.

Major industries. Dipolog is basically an agricultural city. A few of its large agro-industrial establishments deal in rubber processing, feed mills, lumber, and the like.

A great majority of the small manufacturing establishments are also agro-industrial such as saw mills, rice and corn mills, bakeries as well as small and medium scale cottage industry, involve in metalcraft, woodcraft, rattancraft, ceramics, and food processing.

Points of Interest


Japanese Memorial Park. A historical landmark at Barangay Dicayas, the spot where the Japanese died during the war. It is accessible by land transportation en route to Dicayas.


Linabo Peak. Dipolog City´s highest mountain overlooking the city where from its height one can take a good look at the view of both cities - Dipolog and Dapitan, and neighboring towns below. It can be reached up to the foot of the hill by land transportation. The uphill climb on foot up the hill´s peak (about 460 meters above sea level) will be enjoyable for mountain climbing enthusiasts.

Sicayab Beach Resort. A public beach (grey sand) that stretches about 7 kms. It is 4 kms. away from the city and is accessible by motorcab.

Miputak Beach Resort. A public grey sand beach that lies just less than one kilometer from the city proper.


Araw ng Dipolog (city anniversaryf). July 1. It is celebrated with the holding of sports activities, cultural presentations at the town plaza, and other religious activities.

How to get there. Philippine Airlines flies to Zamboanga daily. By sea, ships that leave for Zamboanga depart Manila twice weekly, with the trip taking 23 hours.