Jose Rizal finally left Dapitan after more than 4 years of exile exactly this day in July, 115 years ago. He was to serve as a temporary physician in Cuba during the revolution. He and his family left onboard the SS España which made many brief stopovers in the Visayas (Dumaguete, Cebu, Iloilo) and Romblon before arriving in Manila. This month long journey was indeed a pleasant lull before the many tumultuous events that Rizal would encounter during the later half of that year. He was arrested en route to Cuba and was sent back to Manila to be tried for rebellion, sedition and conspiracy. He was convicted on all these charges and was sentenced to death on December 30, 1896.
They arrived at the Cebu port on August 2, 1896. He visited an old acquaintance, performed various medical operations and paid a courtesy call to the military commander stationed at Fort San Pedro, a bastion which still stands to this day.
Rizal wrote on his diary that they saw three dolphins swimming along side their boat when they left for Iloilo the next day. I don’t recall seeing one during my few trips where we would navigate by the Mactan Channel. Perhaps the water quality that time was still conducive for these playful creatures or that these were probably hunted down over the years.
But it was not the presence of the dolphins that struck me the most in his account. Rizal also noted that they saw Mactan on their right, ‘an island famous for what happened to Magellan.’ He was able to see the island where the first few seeds of the Spanish regime were first planted or attempted in this case. What he did not live to see was the day when this rule which spanned more than 3 centuries, finally ended just 2 years after his death
The stamp site for the Lakbay Rizal @150 passport is at Fort San Pedro in downton Cebu. There is a Php30.00 fee that is collected which would also allow you entrance to the oldest tri-bastioned fort in the Philippines.
Fort San Pedro
Pier Area, Cebu City