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Dapitan's Balay Hamoy stands witness to a timeless bond

The untold story of friendship, loyalty, and love of Jose Rizal and Don Mariano Balsomo Hamoy

In the picturesque town of Dapitan, nestled at the Southwestern Philippines, stands a historic treasure that has witnessed the profound friendship, loyalty, and love between two remarkable men -- Jose Rizal and Don Mariano Balsomo Hamoy.

Completed in 1893, Balay Hamoy served as the residence of the esteemed couple, Don Mariano and his wife, Doña Pilar Sagario y Acaylar.

Don Mariano, a highly regarded figure in government and society, had a unique connection with Jose Rizal. Their friendship blossomed during their time together at the Ateneo Municipal in Manila, where Rizal was his senior. Later, when Rizal was exiled to Dapitan, he and Don Mariano became close friends and business partners in the abaca trade. This partnership further deepened their bond, laying the foundation for a friendship that would stand the test of time.

During the restoration of Balay Hamoy in 2020-2022, guided by direct descendant, Peter Dominic A. Hamoy and his wife, Kathlyn Uyehera, the house was carefully rejuvenated to preserve its historical significance.

The restoration aimed to offer people a glimpse into life in the late 1800s and, most importantly, to celebrate the friendship, loyalty, and love between Don Mariano and Jose Rizal.

The house retains its authentic charm, with the original stairs following the Oro, Plata, Mata design and the family symbol - a four-petal rose - intricately carved on its walls. Despite minor damages over time, approximately 90 percent of the house remains as it did in its glory days.

One remarkable event that contributed to the historic significance of Balay Hamoy was the birth of Don Mariano and Doña Pilar's firstborn son, Pablo, in 1894. This momentous occasion was made even more special as Jose Rizal himself, serving as the family physician, played a crucial role in delivering baby Pablo into the world within the walls of Balay Hamoy.

Their shared love for chess was another aspect that bound the two friends together. An original chess board still adorns the house, a testament to the countless matches they played. Despite Don Mariano's best efforts, he could never match Rizal's grandmaster-level skills, resulting in friendly banter and cherished memories within the walls of Balay Hamoy.

Beyond their personal bond, Rizal's time in Dapitan was marked by his various contributions to the community. Notably, he collaborated with Father Sanchez to create an accurate topographical map of Mindanao, which still survives as a historical artifact, located at the city's plaza today.

Tragically, Rizal's exile in Dapitan came to an abrupt end in 1896 when he was falsely accused of being the mastermind behind the revolution in the Philippines. Sentenced to death, Rizal's execution was believed to have been rushed to prevent any chance of intervention from his powerful connections in Spain. The news of his death sent shockwaves through Dapitan, leaving Don Mariano and the community devastated, questioning why such a great man had to be taken away.

In an act of unwavering loyalty, Don Mariano preserved the legacy of his dear friend. When asked to surrender a deed of sale from Rizal to Sixto Carreon, which would have been seized by the Spanish authorities, Don Mariano denied its existence, protecting his friend's memory until the end.

Today, Balay Hamoy stands as a living testament to the unbreakable bond between Jose Rizal and Don Mariano Balsomo Hamoy. It echoes the time when friendship was not merely a word but a cherished treasure.

This historic house offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the enduring love and loyalty that once thrived within its walls.

As direct descendant, Peter Dominic Hamoy aptly put it, "The house is just an old house if not for Jose Rizal's presence." Indeed, the story of Balay Hamoy is a timeless reminder of the profound impact that friendship can have, transcending time and leaving a lasting mark on history. (RVC/HTB/PIA9-Zamboanga del Sur)

About the Author

Harvy Bangayan

Information Officer

Region 9

Harvy T. Bangayan earned his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and is now pursuing his Master's degree in Public Administration at the same institution. A music lover, he now writes news in Zamboanga del Sur and manages the PIA Zamboanga del Sur Facebook page.

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