During the early part of his exile in Dapitan, Rizal lived at the commandant’s residence. With his prize from the Manila Lottery and his earnings as a farmer and a merchant, he bought a piece of land near the shore of Talisay in Dapitan. On this land, he built three houses- all made of bamboo, wood, and nipa. The first house which was square in shape was his home. The second house was the living quarters of his pupils. And the third house was the barn where he kept his chickens. The second house had eight sides, while the third had six sides. In a letter to his friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, on December 19, 1893, Rizal described his peaceful life in Dapitan.
“I shall tell you how we lived here. I have three houses-one square, another hexagonal, and the third octagonal. All these houses are made of bamboo, wood, and nipa. I live in the square house, together with my mother, my sister, Trinidad, and my nephew. In the octagonal house (see photo below) live some young boys who are my pupils. The hexagonal house is my barn where I keep my chickens.“
“From my house, I hear the murmur of a clear brook which comes from the high rocks. I see the seashore where I keep two boats, which are called barotos here.”
“I have many fruit trees, such as mangoes, lanzones, guayabanos, baluno, nangka, etc. I have rabbits, dogs, cats, and other animals.”
“I rise early in the morning-at five-visit my plants, feed the chickens, awaken my people, and prepare our breakfast. At half-past seven, we eat our breakfast, which consists of tea, bread, cheese, sweets, and other things. “After breakfast, I treat the poor patients who come to my house. Then I dress and go to Dapitan in my baroto. I am busy the whole morning, attending to my patients in town.”
“At noon, I return home to Talisay for lunch. Then, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., I am busy as a teacher. I teach the young boys.”
“I spend the rest of the afternoon in farming. My pupils help me in watering the plants, pruning the fruits, and planting many kinds of trees. We stop at 6:00 P.M. for the Angelus. I spend the night reading and writing.”
Below are photos of the park near Dapitan church where a map of Mindanao made by Rizal was erected using grass and cement. Rightmost photo shows my favorite island in Mindanao which is Camiguin Island.
I recommend that homeschooling families visit Dapitan and Talisay, Zamboanga Del Norte. The museum and the facilities as well as the town’s buildings will really bring you to the time when Dr. Rizal was exiled there. Visiting these sites helps one understand how productive Rizal was during his imprisonment. Our national hero was a genius, the things he built and made during his exile were proof of his being a jack of all trades whose early years were spent homeschooling with his mom.