Balay Hamoy Museum: Unearthing a New Footprint of Jose Rizal in Dapitan

The Spaniards had hoped that Jose Rizal's banishment to Dapitan, a sleepy town in Zamboanga del Norte that faces the Sulu Sea, would finally break his spirit, since it was so far removed from the cities where he had lived and thrived with fellow La Liga Filipina members. Our national hero, on the other hand, has other plans. Rather than accepting defeat, Rizal made his presence in Dapitan felt deeply by members of the local community.

Things to do in Dapitan
These young men and women channeling 1890s fashion 

According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, Rizal made the most of his exile by doing a variety of things in Dapitan. He taught kids at a small school, founded a health clinic, created a relief map of Mindanao in front of the Baroque-styled St. James Church, assisted in the construction of a small dam, and, more significantly, he formed close bonds with many of the inhabitants, including forging a friendship with a certain Don Mariano Hamoy.

Balay Hamoy’s Connection to Rizal

The history of Balay Hamoy can be traced back to 1893, when Don Mariano Hamoy and his wife Doña Pilar Sagario first built the house. The Hamoy couple would occasionally entertain Dr. Jose Rizal, whom they had befriended during the latter's exile in Dapitan, at this house. Rizal even delivered baby Pablo, Don Mariano and Doña Pilar's firstborn child.

The staircase and entrance to the courtyard

While the house would remain in ownership of the Hamoy family's direct descendants leading up to its current owners Peter Hamoy and his wife Kat Uyehara, it would take more than a century before this house will be added to the footprints of Jose Rizal in Dapitan. 

The dark brown wooden exterior adds a timeless charm to Balay Hamoy

From the moment the house was given to me by my parents Mariano Lastica Hamoy and Clariza Azcuna Adasa we immediately planned to restore Balay Hamoy but had to wait for the right time and enough funds to start the restoration.” Peter Hamoy said.

The vibrant hallway leads you to the two bedrooms

While the issue of restoration funds remains a big question mark, the right moment arrived when the Hamoy’s youngest daughter Hitomi approached her parents with a tearful eye and said: “Dad, Mom I researched on my great, great grandfather Don Mariano Hamoy and the article said he is the forgotten friend of Dr Jose Rizal! Why is he forgotten?”, Hitomi asked. “Something has to be done for people to remember him. His story and the story of his friendship with Dr. Jose Rizal must be shared”, she adds prodding her parents to finally take that leap of restoring the old Balay Hamoy. 

The master bedroom as it looks like centuries ago — without the A/C of course

The Hamoy couple realized the moment they had been waiting for had arrived after being moved by their history-loving daughter's plea. Despite limited resources and a business that had suffered from the pandemic, Peter and Kat decided to restore the old Balay Hamoy, fueled only by a desire to tell their family's story and its connection to our history, as well as knowledge gained from years of research in house restoration.

The library boasts of a collection related to Philippine history

A Restored Past Now on Display

As the country began to emerge from the grip of pandemic restrictions, Balay Hamoy gradually underwent restoration until, by the time the city celebrated Jose Rizal's 130th anniversary of arrival in Dapitan, the door of Balay Hamoy is finally ready to welcome curious minds about the city’s storied connection to our national hero.

Rizal in Dapitan
A diorama of Rizal's interaction with the Hamoy family 

Our main goal of the restoration and preservation was to tell a story of the rich history and heritage of Balay Hamoy and the Dapitanons who lived in those times,” shares Kat Hamoy. “We also want to share the untold stories of Dr. Jose Rizal and Don Mariano Balsomo Hamoy’s friendship and the legacies they left to Dapitan” she adds. 

Kat Uyehara
Balay Hamoy Museum owners Peter and Kat Hamoy with Dapitan Mayor Seth Jalosjos, DOT Regional Director Krisma Rodriguez, CCP VP Chris Millado and National Musem Director Jorelle Legaspi during the ribbon cutting ceremony

Coinciding with the Kinabayo Festival and the Revisitamos Dapitan 1892, the commemoration of Rizal’s 130th year anniversary of arrival in Dapitan, Balay Hamoy Museum opened to the public to a simple celebration attended by historian Ambeth Ocampo, CCP VP Chris Millado, National Museum Deputy General Director Jorell Legaspi, National Artists for Music Ryan Cayabyab and Dance Alice Reyes, Dapitan City Mayor Seth Jalosjos and DOT Tourism Regional Director Krisma Rodriguez and a number of history and heritage advocates.

Depiction of Jose Rizal delivering the baby Hamoy

"Rizal has left a footprint on the Dapitanons. He spent four of the most productive years of his life in Dapitan", Dapitan Mayor Seth Jalosjos said. 

The other bedroom of Balay Hamoy

The Balay Hamoy Museum, which houses old materials relevant to Rizal's time in Dapitan as well as a diorama of the Hamoy's interactions with Jose Rizal among many other interesting items, is a welcome addition to the Jose Rizal trail in Dapitan.

Photo courtesy of DOT

Balay Hamoy Museum is located on Mi Retiro Street in Dapitan's heritage district, just a 3-minute walk from other Rizal footsteps landmarks such as St. James the Great Parish Church, Rizal's relief map of Mindanao, Rizal Monument, Casa Real Marker, and more.