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Starweek Magazine

San Jose de Buenavista: Buena vista!

- Richard P. Magbanua -

Cover photos by Richard Magbanua; Chin Salcedo & Carlo Tamba

 MANILA, Philippines - San Jose de Buenavista, the capital of the Antique, is a first class municipality with 28 barangays, 14 of which are coastal barangays abundant in marine resources. Aside from fishing, the people also rely on agriculture and commerce as sources of livelihood.

San Jose de Buenavista is a town between rustic rural and mid-urban, a center for trade and business in Antique. A bustling capital town, it is a jump off point to the many tourist destinations in the province.

Just like an old baul (wooden chest), the town of San Jose has many stories to tell. Old folks say the town was named after St. Joseph the Worker. The town’s patron saint is housed in St. Joseph Cathedral fronting the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). It is told that a bearded man holding a cane stopped the onslaught of a tidal wave. Amazed at what they saw, they exclaimed, “Buena vista!” Thus was the town named San Jose de Buenavista, with St. Joseph as their patron saint.

San Jose de Buenavista gained popularity during the colonial era. The most significant vestige of Spanish influence is the Gella-Azurin house located along Gobierno Street. The house features the architectura mestiza element and is made of coral stone bricks and hardwood. It served as a hospital during the war.

Angels flank the entrance to the ruins of San Pedro Church, now transformed into a prayer garden

EBJ Freedom Park is located in the heart of the town. It used to be known as San Jose de Buenavista Plaza but has been renamed EBJ Freedom Park in honor of Antique’s beloved hero, Evelio B. Javier. The main attraction of the park is the bronze statue of EBJ with his left hand waving with a peace sign created by the National Artist Napoleon Abueva.

During fiestas, komedya is the main entertainment. The earliest komedya in Panay island was performed in San Jose in 1893. The popularity of komedya during the earlier years gave rise to street names like Principe, Princessa and Turko. 

The komedya is a colorful theatrical play in verses or in luwa with a convention of marches, stylized movement, delivery and fighting scenes. Themes are commonly related to the lives of saints, romantic love, conflict between Christians and Muslims and lately, social commentaries. The most colorful komedya recently performed by the Madrangca Komedya Troupe is “Gimeno Rogera and Princessa Leonaria.”

Visitors to San Jose de Buenavista will surely enjoy the cool and deep blue crystal waters of the Madrangca-Funda-Dalipe beach, a four-kilometer stretch dotted with numerous beach resorts.

The 10-hectare coastal area is a marine protected area which is the home to various marine creatures living in the expanse of its pristine waters.

A vegetable garden and laying chickens at San Jose’s real-life Farmville.

Leave your diet behind because San Jose de Buenavista is a food haven.

Femos Kitchenette nestled in San Jose Business Park offers sabor pambalay dishes such as kare-kare and the all-time favorite KBL which stands for kadyos, baboy and langka. Paul and David Resto which recently opened a branch at the Gaisano Grand Mall of Antique is the home of the famous beef batchoy and congee, favorite merienda fare.

Bantayan street is famed for Café Amistoso Resto Bar which offers the best fish kilawin in town. The savory soup bindonggadas is a sought after comfort food, a combination of the Spanish dish callos and the linagang baka (beef stew) is specialty of Don-don’s restaurant in Dalipe, Tradetown market.

Bondoc’s Resto dishes up its luscious beef steak in mushroom sauce and Kanyogan Garden restaurant is proud of its mouth watering chicken binakol and halo-halo sa buco. If you need a respite from the bustle of life, the comfort food these restaurants offer will soothe any tired soul.  

St. Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of the town

Just minutes away from the town proper is the village of San Pedro, with the ruins of Lumang Simbahan erected by the Agustinians during the Spanish regime. The church was in the shape of a Latin cross with three main entrances and a roof of cogon grass. According to folk tale, the church was accidentally burned by a monkey pet of the priest in-charge. Presently, the ruins of the church has been converted into a prayer garden devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes.

Also in San Pedro is Farmville, a one-hectare demo farm funded by the municipal government which practices integrated farming and organic farming. The farm is introducing different organic farming technologies to the farmers, such as the rice model farm, and other innovative agriculture technologies.

The last week of April is the celebration of the Tiringbanay Festival, a reunion of families or clans and a way to give importance and honor to St. Joseph the Worker, the town’s patron saint.

Tiringbanay features a colorful parade, mardi gras competition, kayembogan ati-ati competition, art exhibit, search for Lin-ay kang San Jose, devotional procession and thanksgiving mass, exhibits of local food and crafts, street party and food festival. 

San Jose specialties (from top): Kadyos, baboy and langka, also known as KBL; Paul and David’s beef congee; fresh kilawin from Cafe Amistoso; bindonggadas from Don-don’s Snack Bar. Photos by: CARLO TAMBA, MARK JAMES VILLAVERT, CHIN SALCEDO AND RICHARD MAGBANUA

For travelers, San Jose de Buenavista offers accommodation facilities ranging from the luxurious to the modest, rooms which are clean and safe. The Femos Centrosphere, The Pinnacle Suites and Functions, La Vita Resort and Restaurant, Dillera Resort, to mention a few, offers good lodging, dining and recreational facilities.

San Jose de Buenavista is just waiting to be explored. As you traipse around town in a tricycle your hospitable driver will regale you with old tales about life in the quiet streets of the town.

Open the baul and discover the secrets and real beauty of San Jose de Buenavista.

BUENAVISTA

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JOSE

SAN

SAN JOSE

ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER

TOWN

VERDANA

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