It is always fun to randomly jump from historical spot to historical spot wherever you are traveling. This is true in the Philippines. You can visit the Malinta Tunnel, a World War II guerrilla hideout on Corregidor Island, then wander around the Spanish walled city of Intramuros. You can then end your tour in Binondo, the oldest Chinatown.
However, a more meaningful way to explore the history of the Philippines would be to concentrate on one historical journey at a time. One of the best historical journeys to take would be one following the life of the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal.
Rizal Shrine, Calamba, Laguna
Jose Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna. on June 19, 1861. It is only one bus ride away from Manila. It was in Laguna that Rizal was raised and went to school, and where he called home all his life. The Shrine is a replica of the original Rizal house, which was destroyed during World War II.
The replica is as perfect as possible, in the original spot, made with the same materials. The only surviving artifact is the well, often called a ‘wishing well.’ In this shrine you will be able to see the rooms of the Rizal siblings, and the way this national hero lived and grew.
Rizal Shrine, Dapitan
After the publication of Noli Mi Tangere (Touch Me Not), Rizal’s first novel, he was deported to Dapitan in the Southern Philippines. The novel was meant as an exposé of the injustices of the Spanish occupiers of the Philippines. The Shrine at Dapitan is surprisingly beautiful, a compound rather than a house. It directly overlooks the sea.
There you will see the house (now more of a museum) where Rizal stayed, as well as the clinic where he treated his patients. (Rizal had studied ophthalmology). The surrounding village also kept much of its Spanish-era architecture, so it is a pleasure to walk through it as well.
Rizal Shrine, Fort Santiago
In the walled city of Intramuros, the old Spanish Fort Santiago stands. When Rizal was imprisoned prior to his execution, he was placed here. The Shrine was built as a museum around the very cell Rizal had been placed in.
While more modern than the other shrines (airconditioned, for example), this Rizal Shrine has quite a few artifacts. You can see memorabilia of his education in Europe, such as his fencing sword and letters. Facsimiles of his novels are also there, as is the lamp where he hid his farewell poem to the country, and letters to his family.
Rizal Monument, Luneta Park
Luneta Park is the scene of Jose Rizal’s execution. The Rizal Monument is there as well, which is where Jose Rizal’s remains were transferred. You can read his last poem, Mi Ultimo Adios, inscribed in a wall nearby. Quirino Grandstand, where Philippine Presidents are sworn into office, is also in that historical site.
History-Lovers, Take the Ultimate Rizal Journey
Whether you are a history student on break or taking a masters in history online, or if you are just a history-lover with a wandering foot, try this approach to the Philippines. The writings and martyrdom of Jose Rizal are largely credited with inspiring the Philippine Revolution. There are few better historical journeys to take in the Philippines.