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Reminiscing My 2013 Trip to Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines

Back in December 2013, I was invited to a familiarization trip for Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines. By that time, Dakak was embarking on a renewed aggressive marketing campaign to bring back its glory days from times past. I was with a group of Cebu-based travel agents from the group of the National Association of Independent Travel Agents (NAITAS). I was the only one who was not a travel agent in that group and I was invited because I managed Cebu Teambuilding Services (now Cebu Teambuilding Facilitators Network), a leading training services provider in Cebu and neighboring provinces. This post chronicles that memorable 2013 trip.

From Cebu City to Dapitan City

I boarded a ship of Cokaliong Shipping Lines on the night of 1 December 2013 and arrived at around noontime at the Pulauan Wharf in Dapitan City the next day. I met up with the group at the wharf. Apparently, we were on the same boat. Organizers of the familiarization trip also met us at the wharf. It was a little awkward for me at first as everyone already seemed to be acquainted with each other.

Dapitan City: A City With A Lot of Nicknames

Dapitan City is a third class chartered city on the northern part of Zamboanga del Norte in the Zamboanga Peninsula Region (Region 9 and formerly part of the Western Mindanao Region). Dapitan is a city with many distinctions leading to it to be a city of several nicknames. It is popularly known as the Shrine City of the Philippines mainly because of the Rizal Shrine located within its boundaries. Aside from that, it is also known as the Historic City of the South and the Rizal City of the South. It is also home to the first amusement park in Mindanao, the Gloria de Dapitan Fantasyland. That also earned it the nickname of Amusement Capital of the South.

First Order of the Day: Room Check-in 

Upon arrival at Pulauan Wharf, we were met by some officers of Dakak Park and Beach Resort and whisked off on a van to the resort after a quick arrival photo and some short pleasantries. We were asked to sign for check-in upon arrival at the resort before we settled down to our assigned rooms. We were assigned by pairs to either de luxe rooms or prime de luxe rooms. I was assigned with Swix Travel and Tours owner Lloyd Suico to a prime deluxe room.


Prime de luxe room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Prime de luxe room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines



Late Lunch at Le Bamboo Cafe 

After we settled down at our assigned rooms and a short siesta, we were then treated to a sumptuous lunch at Le Bamboo Cafe by the beach. It was a wonderful meal. We had chopsuey, grilled chicken, fresh lumpia, kinilaw na isda, macaroni salad, lechon kawali, sinigang na isda, and sweet and sour fish. But my personal favorites were the crabs and shrimp dishes they served us. For dessert, there was minatamis na saging, cake slices, and fresh fruits. The lunch was also my opportunity to get to know the others in the group who were already acquainted to each other even before the trip because they moved in the same industry.


Le Bamboo Cafe in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
We had a sumptuous lunch at Le Bamboo Cafe 


Sunset Cruise and Welcome Party at the Beach 

After a short unstructured time after lunch, we proceeded to Taguilon Port to board M/B River Eel 2, a catamaran pushed by a motorized outrigger from behind for the sunset cruise. Well, it wasn't exactly a sunset cruise since it had to end early so we could witness the welcome party they prepared for us at the beach. A large group of Subanen ethnic dancers greeted us at the beach along with a small group of tribal musicians.


MB River Eel 2 at Taguilon Port in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
MB River Eel 2 at Taguilon Port in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Welcome party at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Welcome party at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines

We haven't even digested our lunch, yet we were again treated to some heavy merienda consisting of tortilla wraps and pasta carbonara.


Tortilla wraps at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Tortilla wraps at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Pasta carbonara with toasted garlic bread at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Pasta carbonara with toasted garlic bread at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines



Dinner by the Beach 

How does dinner by the beach and under the stars sound? Wonderful! Right? We had just that at Dakak, a Filipino-inspired dinner with lechon baboy as star. And while we ate, a pop band played some live music in the background.

Cocktails at Pirates Bar 

The nightcap of Day 1 saw us sip some cocktails at Pirates Bar. Then some line dancing when we were all a bit tipsy.


Pirates Bar in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Pirates Bar in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines




Having fun with the gang at Pirates Bar in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Having fun with the gang at Pirates Bar in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Buffet Breakfast 

The first order of day 2 was buffet breakfast at the Le Bamboo Cafe. What a huge buffet it was with a varied selection of cuisines. There was an egg omelet section, a bread  and toasts section, breakfast cereals, sausages, hams, several fruit juices, etc. The size of the buffet is comparable to that of Bellevue Resort in Panglao, Bohol or Tokyo Table in Cebu City.

Snorkeling and More at Aliguay Island 

After a hearty breakfast, we proceeded to Taguilon Port and boarded M/B Serpentina I en route to Aliguay Island where some of us enjoyed snorkeling, swimming in the 8-foot deep swimming pool, and had a seafood lunch at Tacubo Restaurant. Oh those crabs were to die for.


The beach at Aliguay Island in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
The beach at Aliguay Island in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines



Dinner at Fresh Harvest Restaurant 

Upon returning to the mainland, we again had a short nap in preparation for a busy, fun-filled nightcap. Dinner was served at the Fresh Harvest Restaurant at the Gloria de Dapitan Complex. After dinner we dropped by the Beehive Club and the Parliament Bar and had a few bowling swings as well.

Gloria de Dapitan and Fantasyland 

The main event for the night however was the tour of Gloria's Fantasyland, the first theme park of its kind in Mindanao. The group watched a 5D movie, held their breaths on a roller coaster ride, enjoyed a stage show, screamed their hearts out at the horror house, and were treated to an awesome display of fireworks.


Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Performers at Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Performers at Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Horror House at Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Horror House at Gloria's Fantasyland in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines



Touring the Rooms and Resort Facilities

We started Day 3 with a tour of the rooms and other facilities at Dakak Park and Beach Resort. We dropped by the chapel, tennis court, recreation area, and the fitness gym.


Family or dormitory room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Family or dormitory room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Deluxe room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Deluxe room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines



Weight room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Weight room at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Dapitan City Historical Tour

The wanderlust and history junkie in me looked forward the most for the city historical tour. We were toured in places with historical significance to the city of Dapitan such as the Punto del Disembarco which is identified to be where Jose Rizal disembarked from the steamer Cebu, the Rizal Shrine where Rizal spent his life in exile in Mindanao, the Saint James the Greater Church, and the Mindanao Relief Map. 


Replica of Casa Cuadrada at the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Replica of Casa Cuadrada at the Rizal Shrine in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


River Cruise 

After the short city tour, we were off to a river cruise where merienda was served. There was not much fancy about the river cruise except that we get to really appreciate nature unadulterated. There was an interesting hanging bridge along the way. And the cruise terminated at the Dapitan Aquamarine Park (DAMPA).

Dakak Adventure Zone 

After the river cruise, we had a short nap before we were whisked off to the Dakak Adventure Zone. We did horseback riding and the braver souls went for Asia's longest dual zipline at 1,364 meters long. I was content to just watch.


Asia's longest dual zipline at Dakak Adventure Zone in Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte, Philippines
Asia's longest dual zipline at Dakak Adventure Zone in Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte, Philippines


Horseback riding at the Dakak Adventure Zone in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Horseback riding at the Dakak Adventure Zone in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines




Dinner at Il Patio Italian Restaurant 

Dinner for the 3rd night was served at the Il Patio Italian Restaurant inside the Dakak Park and Beach Resort. There was pasta, risotto, bruschetta, pizza, and other Italian dishes. Entertainment came in the form of Filipino folk dances and songs.

Fire Dancers and a Bonfire

After dinner of the 3rd day, we were treated to a spectacular performance of a troupe of fire dancers by a bonfire at the beach.


Fire dancers at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Fire dancers at Dakak Park and Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines


Reggae Music and Drinks at Aqua Sports Bar 

For the nightcap, we enjoyed a few drinks and music from a reggae band at the Aqua Sports Bar. I had one drink too many as I was drunk when I got to bed.

Watersports 

On the penultimate day of our familiarization trip at Dakak Park and Beach Resort, we hopped on jet skis and had so much fun on the banana boat. Other aqua sports rentals were pedal boats, kayaks, wakeboarding, and a speed boat.

Dipolog City Sardines Factory

On our last day, we had lunch at Burgos Restaurant at the Dapitan Aquamarine Park (DAMPA). After that we proceeded to Dipolog City for a quick tour of the Montaño Spanish sardines factory, the last item on our itinerary.

Note: Photos are courtesy of Maria Lyra Lumbab-Boholst and  Imee Fatima Aliñabon-Nejudne who were part of the group I went with.


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