There’s More to Love in Dipolog City Aside from their Bottled Sardines

One day in Dipolog City is NOT enough, I repeat, NOT enough. The city caught me by surprise. I was not very keen on exploring this city because my interest and love of Philippine history and Jose Rizal steered me towards Dapitan.  Dipolog City was just a typical side trip, and after I explored the city, the word REGRET flashed inside my head.

Nevertheless, the chance of exploring this city for a day did not just surprise me, but it fascinated me as well.

History and its Flavor

Dipolog was once a barrio of Dapitan. After years of appeals and disputes, it became a town, and later on a city. Dipolog is known for its sardines industry, in fact it is called the ‘Bottled Sardines Capital of the Philippines.’ Aside from their famous bottled sardines, the city’s history filled with rich flavor delighted me.

As I walked along the heart of the city, I saw a landmark (in front of the city hall) which is known as the ‘Three Prominent Pioneers Statue’. The three pioneers that helped shaped the city and its charm are Hon. Pascual T. Martinez, first municipal mayor; Rev. Fr. Nicasio Y. Patagan, first Filipino Diocesan Priest of Mindanao; and Eugenio Magarte, a farmer and author who introduced the Margate System of Planting Rice (Known also as intermittent irrigation and drainage.) 


The Three Prominent Pioneers Statue

Near Dipolog Boulevard, I saw a cross in the middle of the street. It was the Sta. Cruz Marker – the spot where the migrants from Bohol landed and established their settlement in early 1900s.

Aside from being a thanksgiving altar to God by the early settlers for their safe travel from Visayas, people believed that it protected them.


Sta. Cruz Marker

During the old days, the seas surrounding Visayas and Mindanao were plagued by pirates. These pirates would periodically come and raid the settlements near the coast. Legend has it that ever since the cross was planted, the attacks stopped. It is believed that the cross created an illusion wherein the pirates could only see the cross but not the houses nearby. (Source:

Formerly known as the Punta Corro, the Sta. Cruz Marker, is the oldest landmark in the city, which is across the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, albeit one and a half kilometer away.


Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral

The exterior design of the cathedral will make you stop and stare its façade made of marble. While its exteriors exude modernity, the interiors of the church especially its altar retained their original look.


Interior photo of the Cathedral from

Historical accounts mentioned that its original altar was designed by Jose Rizal while he was in exile in Dapitan. The sketch of the altar was believed to be inspired by that of San Ignacio Church in Manila. (Source:


In between the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral and street that will lead you to the Sta. Cruz Marker is a pretty garden park.

Boulevard of Dreams

Even though I missed the gorgeous sunset along the Dipolog Boulevard, I still enjoyed the horizon of Sulu Sea.


Dipolog Boulevard

It is a perfect sweet escape to enjoy the sights, stroll along the beach and enjoy the cafés and restaurants along the boulevard.

The cherry on top of my Dipolog visit was my discovery of Chapters Book Café. It is very refreshing to experience local cafés (sorry Starbucks) and Chapters Book Café was a sweet, afternoon delight encounter. The moment I entered the café, it felt like I was Alice in my own wonderland.


Chapters Book Café: It’s a whole new world in Dipolog City

The coffee was good, but the experience was great. You can either grab a book to read or have your own pictorial in every corner of the café. I opted for the latter. No one (in my belief) would just sit there and enjoy their refreshment. I bet all of its customers have wandered around, sat on every couch and took a snap (just like me).


My favorite corner inside the café.


Sakura in Dipolog City

The Dipolog Boulevard (of Dreams) would have been complete if I have experienced the night scene. Yes, I am still regretting my less than 12 hours visit to the city. Maybe one day, I’ll get the chance to explore the iconic boulevard and learn more about its story.

Whole Lotta Love for Sardines

I love sardines and Mindanao has the home court advantage as it is a good source not just for tuna, but also sardines.

Any Dipolog travel will not be complete without trying their famous Montaño Bottled Sardines. It will NOT disappoint you.


Photo from Montaño Sardines Facebook Page

Interestingly, Montaño Bottled sardines also has its share of history in Dipolog.

For three generations, the Montaño family which started from Concepcion Macias Montaño developed a sardine recipe from the fishes in their waters. It was given first to family and friends, and received good feedback. When the demand increased and people clamoured for a taste of the famous sardines, the Montaños started production in their very own home.

Her son started to market the sardines in 1970, and the rest is history. It is now an important product and heritage of Dipolog City.

The bottled sardines and Chapters Book Café were unforgettable, but there’s more to enjoy and love in Dipolog City – with its array of flavor, and most especially its flavorful history.



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