Dapitan City Plaza (“Liwasan ng Dapitan”) also known as the City Square is the plaza which Dr. Jose P. Rizal beautified and developed during his exile. With the assistance of Spanish Politico-Military Governor of Dapitan, Gov. Ricardo Carnicero, Rizal made the Dapitan City Plaza comparable to the ones he saw in Europe.
Dapitan City Plaza has an estimated land area of 1 hectare and it is laid out in the tradition rectilinear Spanish colonial manner. The plaza already existed when Dr. Jose P. Rizal arrived in Dapitan on July 17, 1892. Oil lamps were hung on tress and cut tree trunks were placed around the plaza as part of Carnicero’s project. Rizal planted white santans, red gumamelas and acacia trees.
Before Dr. Jose P. Rizal became the Philippines‘ national hero, the kiosk was in the middle area of the plaza. The kiosk was moved to the northwest side to give way to the monument in honor of Rizal. The Dapitan City Plaza has maintained its original design except for its elevated border which was constructed in 1996.
In the southeast part of the Dapitan City Plaza is the Relief Map of Mindanao which Rizal also made. The two cannons which used to be placed on top of Ilihan Hill can be found in the north. Flags on light posts, circular-design metal fences and palm trees are the current addition for the beautification of the plaza.
In Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s monument, there is a snippet from one of his letters in 1893 written in Spanish which states: “Yo estoy dispuesto a hacer todo lo que pueda en obsequio de este pueblo. No tengo inconveniente ninguno en quedarme para siempre en este distrito”. Which is translated in English as: “I’m willing to do everything I can for the sake of the people. I have no problem to stay forever in this district”.