Rizal lived in exile in far-away Dapitan, a remote town in Mindanao, which was under the missionary jurisdiction of the Jesuits, from 1892 to 1896. This four-year interregnum in his life was tediously unexciting, but was abundantly fruitful with varied achievements. He practices medicine, pursued scientific studies, continued his artistic and literary works, widened his knowledge of languages, established a school of boys, promoted community development projects, invented a wooden machine for making bricks, and engaged in farming and commerce. Despite his multifarious activities, he kept an extensive correspondence with his family, relatives, fellow reformists, and eminent scientists and scholars of Europe, including Blumentritt. Reinhold Rost, A.B. Meyer, W. Joest of Berlin, S. Knuttle of Stuttgart, and N.M. Keight of Prague.

Beginning of Exile in Dapitan. The steamer Cebu which brought Rizal to Dapitan carried a letter from Father Pablo Pastells, Superior of the Jesuit Society in the Philippines, to Father Antonio Obach, Jesuit parish priest of Dapitan. In this letter, Father Superior Pastells informed Father Obach that Rizal could live at the parish convent on the following conditions:

1. "That Rizal publicly retract his errors concerning religion, and make statements that were clearly pro-Spanish and against revolution.

2. "That he perform the church rites and make a general confession of his past life.

3. "That henceforth he conduct himself in an exemplary manner as a Spanish subject and a man of religion."

Rizal did not agree with these conditions. Consequently, he lived in the house of the commandant, Captain Carnicero. The relations between Carnicero (the warden) and Rizal (the prisoner) were warm and friendly.

 House of Captain Carnicero.jpg) the house Rizal used to live. 

Carnicero was charmed by Rizal's fine qualities and personality. They ate together at the same table and had many friendly conversations. Carnicero came to know that Rizal was not a common felon, much less a filibustero. He gave good reports on his prisoner to Governor Despujol. He gave him complete freedom to go anywhere, reporting only once a week at his office, and permitted Rizal, who was a good equestrian, to ride his chestnut horse.

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Both Rizal and the Captain used to eat on the same table. (Now at the Rizal Museum in Dapitan)

Rizal, on his part, admired the kind, generous Spanish captain. As evidence of his esteem, he wrote a poem, A Don Ricardo Carnicero, on August 26, 1892, on the occasion of the Captain's birthday.

Wins in Manila Lottery. On September 21, 1892, the sleepy town of Dapitan burst in hectic excitement. The mail boat Butuan was approaching the town, with colored pennants flying in the sea breezes. Captain Carnicero, thinking that a high Spanish official was coming, hastily dressed in gala uniform, ordered the town folks to gather at the shore, and himself rushed there, bringing a brass band.

The mail boat, Butuan, brought no Spanish officials but the happy tidings that the Lottery Ticket No. 9736 jointly owned by Captain Carnicero, Dr. Rizal, and Francisco Equilor (Spanish resident of Dipolog, a neighboring town of Dapitan) won the second prize of P20, 000 in the government-owned Manila Lottery.

Rizal's share of the winning lottery ticket was PHP6, 200.00. Upon receiving this sum, he gave PHP2, 000.00 to his father and PHP200.00 to his friend Basamin Hong Kong, and the rest he invested well by purchasing agricultural lands along the coast of Talisay, about one kilometer away from Dapitan.

Rizal's winning in the Manila Lottery reveals an aspect of his lighter side. He never drank hard liquor and never smoked, but he was a lottery addict. During his first sojourn in Madrid from 1882 to 1885 he always invested at least three pesetas every month in lottery tickets. "This was his only vice," commented Wenceslao Retana, his first Spanish biographer and former enemy.

Rizal-Pastells Debate on Religion. During his exile in Dapitan Rizal had a long and scholarly debate with Father Pastells on religion. It started when Father Pastells sent him a book by Sarda, with advice that the latter (Rizal) should desist from his majaderas (foolishness) in viewing religion from the prism of individual judgment and self-esteem.

This interesting religious debate may be read in four letters written by Rizal, as flows: (1) September 1, 1892; (2) November 11, 1892; (3) January 9, 1893; and (4) April 4, 1893; and in Father Pastells' replies dated: (1) October 12, 1892, (2) December 8, 1892, (3) February 2, 1893, and (4) April (no exact date), 1893.

In all his letters to Father Pastells, Rizal revealed his anti-Catholic ideas, which he had acquired in Europe and embitterment at his persecution by the bad friars. It is understandable why he was bitter against the friars who committed certain abuses under the cloak of religion. As he wrote to Blumentritt from Paris on January 20, 1890: "I want to hit the friars, but only friars who utilized religion not only as a shield, but also as a false and superstitious religion in order to fight the enemy who hid himself behind it."

According to Rizal, individual judgment is a gift from God and everybody should use it like a lantern to show the way and that self-esteem, if moderated by judgment, saves man from unworthy acts. He also argued that the pursuit of truth may lie in different paths, and thus "religious may vary, but they all lead to the light."

Father Pastells tried his best to win back Rizal to the fold of Catholicism. Divine faith, he told Rizal, supersedes everything, including reason, self-esteem, and individual judgment. No matter how wise a man is, he argued, his intelligence is limited; hence he needs the guidance of God. He refuted Rizal's attacks on Catholic dogmas as misconceptions of rationalism and naturalism, errors of misguided souls.

This interesting debate between two brilliant polemicists ended inconclusively. Rizal could not be convinced by Pastells arguments so that he lived in Dapitan beyond the pale of his Mother Church.

In spite of their religious differences, Rizal and Pastells remained good friends. Father Pastells gave Rizal a copy of the Imitacion de Cristo (Imitation of Christ), a famous Catholic book by Father Thomas a Kempis. And Rizal, in grateful reciprocation, gave his Jesuit opponent in debate a bust of St. Paul, which he had made.

Although Rizal did not subscribe to Pastells' religious interpretation of Catholic dogmas, he continued to be a Catholic, and celebrate Christmas and other religious fiestas in the Catholic way. His Catholicism, however, was the Catholicism that inquires and enlightens, the "Catholicism of Renan and Teilhard de Chardin."

Rizal Challenges a Frenchman to a Duel. While Rizal was still debating with Father Pastells by means of exchange of letters, he became involved in a quarrel with a French acquaintance in Dapitan, Mr. Juan Lardet, a businessman. This man purchased many logs from the lands of Rizal. It so happened that some of the logs were of poor quality.

Rizal used to cut logs in this area

  Lardet, in a letter written to Antonio Miranda, a Dapitan merchant and friend of Rizal, expressed his disgust with the business deal and stated that "if he (Rizal - Z) were a truthful man, he would have told me that the lumber not included in the account were bad.

Miranda indiscreetly forwarded Lardet's letter to Rizal. One of the hero's weaknesses, it should be noted was his sensitivity. When he read Lardet's letter, he flared up in anger, regarding the Frenchman's unsavory comment as an affront to his integrity. Immediately, he confronted Lardet and challenged him to a duel.

When the commandant heard of the incident, Carnicero told the Frenchman to apologize rather than accept the challenge. "My friend, you have not a Chinaman's chance in a fight with Rizal on a field of honor. Rizal is an expert in martial arts, particularly in fencing and pistol shooting."

Heeding the commandant's advice, Lardet wrote to Rizal in French, dated Dapitan, March 30, 1893, apologizing for the insulting comment. Rizal, as a gentleman and well-versed in pundonor (Hispanic chivalric code) accepted the apology, and good relations between him and the Frenchman were restored.

It is interesting to recall that twice before his sensitivity caused him to challenge people to a duel - Antonio Luna in 1890 and W.E. Retana in the same year.

Rizal and Father Sanchez. Father Pastells, aside from his personal efforts to persuade Rizal to discard his "errors of religion," instructed two Jesuits in Mindanao - Father Obach, cura of Dapitan, and Father Jose Villaclara, cura of Dipolog - to try their best to bring back Rizal within the Catholic fold. Furthermore, he assigned Father Francisco de Paula Sanchez, Rizal's favorite teacher at the Ateneo de Manila, to Dapitan.

Father Sanchez, since Rizal's days at the Ateneo, had spent three years in Europe and returned to Manila in 1881 to resume teaching at the Ateneo and to head its museum. He was the only Spanish priest to defend Rizal's Noli Me Tangere in public.

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Noli Me Tangere & El Filibusterismo, the 2 books Rizal wrote which cost him his life.

Immediately, upon his arrival in Dapitan, Father Sanchez lost no time in meeting his former favorite student. Of all the Jesuits, he was the most beloved and esteemed by Rizal. Almost daily they carried theological arguments in a friendly manner. But all efforts of Sanchez were in vain. For once, his former beloved teacher could not convince Rizal.

Despite his failure to persuade Rizal to discard his unorthodox views on the Catholic religion, Father Sanchez enjoyed the latter's company. He assisted Rizal in beautifying the town plaza. On his birthday, Rizal gave him a precious birthday gift - a manuscript entitled Estudios sobre la lengua tagala (Studies on the Tagalog Language) - a Tagalog grammar which Rizal wrote and which he dedicated to his beloved former teacher.

Idyllic Life in Dapitan. In Dapitan, Rizal had an exemplary life, idyllic in serenity. Since August 1893, members of his family took turns in visiting him in order to assuage his loneliness in the isolated outpost of Spanish power in the Moroland. Among them were his mother; sisters Trinidad, Maria, Narcisa, and nephews Teodosio, Estanislao, Mauricio, and Prudencio. He built his house by the seashore of Talisay, surrounded by fruit trees. He had also another house for his schoolboys and a hospital for his patients.

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Rizal's house

Describing his life in Dapitan, Rizal wrote to Blumentritt on December 19, 1893

I shall tell you how we live here. I have three houses: one square, another hexagonal, and a third octagonal, all of bamboo, wood, and nipa. In the square house we live, my mother, sister Trinidad, a nephew and I; in the octagonal live my boys or some good youngsters whom I teach arithmetic, Spanish and English; and in the hexagonal live my chickens. From my house I hear the murmur of a crystal, clear brook which comes from the high rocks; I see the seashore, the sea where I have many fruit trees, mangoes, lanzones, guayabanos, baluno, ninja, etc. I have rabbits, dogs, cats, etc. I raise early - at five - visit my plants, feed the chickens, awaken my people with tea, pastries, cheese, sweetmeats, etc. Later I treat my poor patients who come to my land; I dress, go to the town in my baroto, treat the people there, and return at 12, when my luncheon awaits me. Then I teach the boys until 4 P.M. and devote the afternoon to agriculture. I spend the night reading and studying.

Rizal's Encounter with the Friar's Spy. During the early days of November 1893 Rizal was living peacefully and happily at his house in Talisay, a kilometer away from Dapitan. His mother, sisters Narcisa and Trinidad, and some nephews were then living with him. His blissful life was then suddenly jolted by a strange incident involving a spy of the friars. This spy with the assumed name of "Pablo Mercado" and posing as a relative, secretly visited Rizal at his house on the night of November 3, 1893. He introduced himself as a friend and relative, showing a photo of Rizal and a pair of buttons with the initials "P.M." (Pablo Mercado) as evidences of his kinship with the Rizal family.

In the course of their conversation the strange visitor offered his services as a confidential courier of Rizal's letters and writing for the patriots in Manila. Rizal, being a man of prudence and keen perception became suspicious. Irked by the impostor's lies, he wanted to throw him out of the house, but mindful of his duty as a host and considering the late hour of the night and the heavy rainfall, he hospitably invited the unwanted visitor to stay at his house for the night. And early the nest day, he sent him away.

After the departure of his bogus relative, Rizal attended to his daily chores, forgetting the incident of the previous night. Later he learned that the rascal was still in Dapitan, telling people that he was a beloved relative of Dr. Rizal. Losing his cool, he went to the commandancia and denounced the impostor to Captain Juan Sitges (who succeeded Captain Carnicero on May 4, 1893 as commandant of Dapitan. Without much ado, Sitges ordered the arrest of "Pablo Mercado" and instructed Anastacio Adriatico, to investigate him immediately.

The truth came out during this investigation. The real name of "Pablo Mercado" was Florencio Namanan. He was a native of Cagayan de Misamis, single and about 30 years old. He was hired by the Recollect friars to a secret mission in Dapitan - to introduce himself to Rizal as a friend and relative, to spy on Rizal's activities, and to filch certain letters and writings of Rizal, which might incriminate him in the revolutionary movement. Strangely, Commandant Sitges suddenly quashed the investigation and released the spy. He promptly forwarded the transcripts of the investigation together with his official report to Governor General Blanco who, in turn, kept these documents as highly confidential. Rizal, who was surprised at the turn of events, requested for a copy of the proceedings of the investigation, but Sitges denied his request. As now declassified and preserved at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, these documents contain certain mysterious deletions.

These available documents on the friars' spy failed mission have been quoted by three Rizalist biographers,-Retana (1907), Palma (1949), and Jose Baron Fernandez (1982). Not one of these biographers quoted the text of another document that is more reliable and valuable in clarifying the whole incident. It is Rizal's letter to his brother-in-law, Manuel T. Hidalgo, written in Dapitan, December 20, 1893, as follows:

My Dear Brother-In-Law Maneng,

I was unable to write you by the previous mail for lack of time, for the boat left unexpectedly.

With regard to Pablo Mercado, I tell you that he came here presenting himself as a courteous friend in order to get from me my letters, writings, etc.; but I found him out soon, and if I did not throw him out of the house brusquely, it was because I always want to be nice and polite to everyone. Nevertheless, as it was raining, I let him sleep here, sending him away very early the next day. I was going to let him alone in contempt but the rascal went around saying secretly that he was my cousin or brother-in-law, I reported him the Commandant who had him arrested.

It was revealed in his declaration that he was sent by the Recollects who gave him P72 and promised him more if he succeeded in wrestling from me my letters for certain persons in Manila. The rascal told me that he was a cousin of one Mr. Litonjua, son of Luis Chiquito, according to him and brother-in-law of Marciano Ramirez. He wanted me to write to these gentlemen. He brought along besides a picture of mine, saying that one Mr. Legaspi of Tondo or San Nicolas gave it to him, I don't remember exactly. It seems that he belongs to a good family of Cagayan de Misamis. Be careful of him, he is a tall boy, somewhat thickset, slightly squint-eyed, dark, slender, broad shoulders, and of impudent manners. He smokes much, spits more, and has thin lips.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Your brother-in-law who loves you,

  (Signed) Jose Rizal

Based-upon all these available documentary sources, the incident of the secret mission of "Pablo Mercado" in Dapitan was not an "Assassination Attempt on Rizal." It was merely an espionage plot concocted by the friars.

As Physician in Dapitan. Rizal practiced medicine in Dapitan. He had many patients, but most of them were poor so that he even game them free medicine. To his friend in Hong Kong, Dr. Marquez, he wrote: "Here the people are so poor that I have even to give medicine gratis." He had, however, some rich patients who paid him handsomely for his surgical skill.

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 CASITAS DE SALUD  This small house Rizal use as a hospital ward

  In August 1893 his mother and sister (Maria) arrived in Dapitan and lived with him for one year and a half. He operated on his mother's right eye. The operation was successful, but DoŮa Teodora, ignoring her son's instructions, removed the bandages from her eyes, thereby causing the wound to be infected. Thus Rizal told Hidalgo, his brother-in-law: "Now I understand very well why a physician should not treat the members of his family." Fortunately, the infection was arrested so that DoŮa Teodora's sight, thanks to her son's ophthalmic prowess, was fully restored.

Rizal's fame as a physician, particularly as an eye specialist, spread far and wide. He had many patients who came from different parts of the Philippines - from Luzon, Bohol, Cebu, Panay, Negros, and Mindanao - and even from Hong Kong. A rich Filipino patient, Don Ignacio Tumarong, was able to see again because of Rizal's ophthalmic skill; and highly gratified by the restoration of his sight, he paid PHP3,000. Another rich patient, an Englishman, paid P500. Don Florencio Azacarraga, a rich hacendero of Aklan, was also cured of eye ailment, and paid Rizal a cargo of sugar.

As a physician, Rizal became interested in local medicine and in the use of medicinal plants. He studied the medicinal plants of the Philippines and their curative values. To poor patients, who could not afford to buy imported medicine, he prescribed the local medicinal plants.

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CASA REDONDA This house was Rizal's clinic

  Water System for Dapitan. Rizal held the title of expert surveyor (perito agrimensor), which he obtained from the Ateneo. He supplemented his training as a surveyor by his reading of engineering books, so that he came to know about engineering. In Dapitan, he applied his knowledge of engineering by constructing a system of waterworks in order to furnish clean water to the townspeople.

Modern engineers marveled how Rizal could have built such a system of waterworks, for he had inadequate tools and meager materials, and his finances were very limited. Without any aid from the government, he succeeded in giving a good water system to Dapitan.

An American engineer, Mr. H.F. Cameron, praised Rizal's engineering feat in the following words:

Another famous and well-known water supply is that of Dapitan, Mindanao, designed and constructed by the Spanish authorities... This supply comes from a little mountain stream across the river from Dapitan and follows the contour of the country for the whole distance. When one considers that Doctor Rizal had no explosives with which to blast the hard rocks and no resources save his own ingenuity, one cannot help but honor a man, who against adverse conditions, had the courage and tenacity to construct the aqueduct which had for its bottom the fluted tiles from the house roofs, and was covered with concrete made from lime burned from the sea coral. The length of this aqueduct is several kilometers, and it winds in and out among the rocks and is carried across gullies in bamboo pipes upheld rocks and is carried across gullies in bamboo pipes upheld by rocks or brick piers to the distribution reservoir.

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WATER SYSTEM-This water stream comes from the hill above which Rizal tap for his waterworks. The famous handmade waterworks of Rizal and consider as one of his masterpieces. 

  Community Projects for Dapitan. When Rizal arrived in Dapitan, he decided to improve it, to the best of his God-given talents, and to awaken the civic consciousness of its people. He wrote to Fr. Pastells: "I want to do all that I can for this town."

Aside from constructing the town's first water system, he spent many months draining the marshes in order to get rid of malaria that infested Dapitan. As a European-trained physician, he knew that the mosquitoes, which thrive in swampy places, spread malaria.

He to equip the town with its lighting system used the P500, which an English patient paid him. This lighting system consisted of coconut oil lamps placed in the dark streets of Dapitan. Electric lighting was unknown then in the Philippines. It was not until 1894 when Manila saw the first electric lights.

Anther community project of Rizal was the beautification of Dapitan. With the help of his former Jesuit teacher and friend, Father Sanchez, he remodeled the town plaza in order to enhance its beauty. He jokingly remarked that he would make it nicely so that it could "rival the best in Europe." In front of the church, Rizal and Father Sanchez made a huge relief map of Mindanao out of earth, stones and grass. This map still adorns the town plaza of Dapitan.

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RELIEF MAP OF MINDANAO-One of Rizalís masterpieces is the map of Mindanao which he perfectly and accurately made without copying from an original map as there arenít any maps at the time. 

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ST. JAMES CHURCH The famous Dapitan church where Rizal used to attend mass regularly.

  Rizal as Teacher. Since boyhood Rizal knew the value of good education. During his travels abroad he observed the education system of modern nations. He himself planned to establish a modern college in Hong Kong for Filipino boys so that he could train them in modern pedagogical concepts, which were then unknown in the Philippines.

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 CASA QUDRADA This house was Rizal's workshop with his students

  His exile to Dapitan gave him the opportunity to put into practice his education ideas. In 1893 he established a school, which existed, until the end of his exile in July, 1896. It began with three pupils and in the course of time the enrolment increased to 16 and later to 21. In his letter to Blumentritt on March 13, Rizal said that he had 16 pupils in his school and that these pupils did not pay any tuition. Instead of charging them tuition fees, he made them work in his garden, fields, and construction projects in the community.

Rizal taught his boys reading, writing, languages (Spanish and English), geography, history, mathematics (arithmetic and geometry), industrial work, nature study, morals and gymnastics. He trained them how to collect specimens of plants and animals, to love work, and to "behave-like men."

Formal classes were conducted between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Rizal, the teacher, sat on a hammock, while the pupils sat on a long bamboo bench. On one day the lessons were conducted in Spanish; on the next day, in English. As in the Ateneo, the best pupil was called "emperor" and he sat at the head of the bench; the poorest pupil occupied the end of the bench.

During the recess the pupils built fires in the garden to drive away the insects, pruned the fruit trees, and manure the soil.

Outside the class hours, Rizal encouraged them to play games in order to strengthen their bodies. They had gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, stone-throwing, swimming, arnis (native fencing), and boating.

 Rizal letís his pupils read these books way back his time. 

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