Today, the most popular relic of Dapitan City is the relief map of Mindanao. One of Dr. Jose Rizal’s masterpieces during his exile in Dapitan. The relief map is impressive because it was perfectly designed and made without copying the original map as there were no maps at that time.

To help the community of Dapitan, Rizal together with the help of a Jesuit teacher, Father Sanchez remodeled the town plaza to make it more attractive. The relief map of Mindanao was born. It was made and shaped from a molded soil and planted with grass.And despite of disagreements about religion and beliefs, Rizal and Father Sanchez maintained their mutual friendship.It was also intended to help students and community understand the town’s geography aside from the beautification efforts of the town plaza.

Relief map of Mindanao

I was really impressed the moment our group set foot on the 900 square meter land area of the relief Map of Mindanao.It’s still currently sitting just across the St.James Church and is still in good shape. I can’t seriously imagine how it survived against battles of centuries.It only goes to show that it was not only made to the highest standards but because of the community efforts. The whole project is well-preserved although some markings were faded.

According to my research, Rizal and Father Sanchez originally planned  to create the Map of the Philippine Archipelago highlighting the most important islands, starting with Mindanao to Luzon. The plaza was then surveyed and was divided into eight squares, drawn a grill pattern and traced the shape of Mindanao with rocks and  carried to the spot by workers.

Relief Map of Mindanao
When the rock foundations were in place, it was covered and laid with a carpet of grass as a final touch, added with ornamental flowers and plants. For a short span of time, it was successfully done.

Just as when they were about to start with Luzon, Father Sanchez was recalled by his superiors and left Dapitan in April, 1893.Now I can imagine how depressing it is to be when someone leaves.It could  have been a frustrating event in your life when you lose someone, a friend.

The Relief Map of Mindanao was restored from year 1925 to 1928 under the government of Jose Aseniero who was once a student of Rizal. It has become the Philippine historic symbol on the 13th of March, 2002 and also became the cultural treasure of the Philippine Museum in 2005.

This particular trip with other Filipino Travel Bloggers is part of my Manila-Mindanao series which will come your way shortly.