Sunday, February 17, 2008

Getting Lost With Names - San Jose

This topic started with this article

San Jose! We all know of course that San Jose is the Spanish name of St. Joseph. And, be very specific if your destination in the Philippines is San Jose. This is the mostest in terms of same-name towns and cities. There are twelve! Ready?

Well, there are just 9 towns all named literally San Jose, but plus, there is a town named San Jose De Buan, there is the city of San Jose in Nueva Ecija and there is the city of San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan. For whatever its significance maybe, seven of these are in Luzon, four are in the Visayas and only one is in Mindanao – the northern part that is, and still very near to Visayas!

Let us start with the city of San Jose in Nueva Ecija as it is the northernmost San Jose. This city is not the capital of the province but is in the heart of the rice granary of the country with vast plains! Like the rest of the province, rice of course is the main produce in this area. However, they have recently risen to be the number one supplier of onions in the country. Don’t fail to see the Tanduyong Festival come April. Tanduyong is a kind of onion that farmers there cultivate. Ah this city fares well in history books be it the Japanese or American war! There are waterfalls here and a popular park called “Diamond Park”.

Then there is the town of San Jose in Tarlac Province. A vast area of a farming community on the province’s border with Zambales. And Mt. Tangisan is lately becoming a favorite of trekkers and hikers. There is a big river frequented by locals called Digos Padi.

The other city named San Jose is in Bulacan and actually just by the outskirts of the metropolis. Approach to this city is usually via Novaliches or Fairview in Quezon City. For the common Metro Manila resident, San Jose is actually more obscured than the terms “Grotto”, “Sapangpalay” or “Tungko” which are all in the city! Grotto of course is a religious “mecca” in the metropolis where Mama Mary’s image there is said to have healing powers – and you commonly see people walking/hiking all the way to that place during holy week. Oh, there is even the Grotto Vista Resort that has been a favorite retreat amongst people from the busy metropolis. They claim that the Sierra Madre starts from there – and I won’t disagree! City as it may be, and near to the urban center, the main produce of this place is still generally agricultural. The city contributes to the supply of vegetables and some root crops for metro manila but their main “event” are poultry and livestock production – quite a big industry in this city. Hint: bring a hanky hehe!

In Batangas province (Region 4-A) is another town named San Jose. This is a big agricultural town connecting two cities – to its north is Lipa City while to its south is Batangas City. Piggeries, poultry farms and feed mills are the main business in this town too! But coffee is also a big produce. When my aunt goes there, she comes home with a lot of eggs, lanzones, sometimes even piglets which she says are cheap to buy at San Jose. This is an old town founded in the 1700s and there is a Catholic Church frequented by people from all over. It’s a handsome church dedicated to St. Joseph and there is even a seminary. Fanfare descends upon this town in what they call the Sinuam Festival.

San Jose is also a big town on the southern end of the province of Occidental Mindoro (Region 4-B, MIMAROPA). Ah this San Jose is a city to me. This is not the capital but it seems to be the most urbanized (compared to other localities in the province). By urbanized, I mean availability of easily accessible tourism facilities like lodges, banks or eateries AND PAVED ROADS! There is a Jollibee! I love hopping to the three islets in this town. Ambulong island is a big one and is surrounded by many marine attractions. There is even an underwater cave. You still can have your own cove in this place – with only you and your boatman on the whole stretch of white sand! Ilin island has a resort with professional diving and snorkeling facilities. While the surroundings are great, the resort is keen on taking you to offshore diving safaris. White Island is a paradise too. The white sand beach is ideal for a family’s beach party. Caution though, you will be reminded that the beach area may have turtle eggs buried in them. So be very careful, lest you accidentally crush them! Lastly, from San Jose you can go on a tour to see Tamaraws and Mangyans and some mountains. You can even jump-off from here towards Apo Reef (but I prefer taking off at Sablayan Port and/or Pandan Island). Then again, the airport is in San Jose!

Our next San Jose is an island town on the southern tip of Romblon (Region 4-B, MIMAROPA) which is also called Carabao Island. Ah, if I love the previous San Jose, am in love with this one! The beaches are of fine white sand. There are rocks and cliffs and caves and you will really believe this is still part of the “land of marble”! Cutest about this place is: it’s just a boat ride away from Boracay! Tired of the frenzied commercialized pace on Boracay? Hop on a boat and tell them to get you to Carabao Island. This is it!

Another town named San Jose is what I call the armpit of Camarines Sur province (Region 5, Bicol). Why the armpit? Just look for this town on any map and you’ll understand why! This town that faces the Lagonoy Gulf is mainly known to many people as the jump-off point to the Caramoan (when going by boat). But it has its very own charms – which I accidentally discovered when I arrived upon this town without a boat to take me to Caramoan. Sabang Beach (the take-off point to Caramoan) is enormously long and white and a paradise enough without the crowds! Coastal as it may be, this town has a spattering of endearing waterfalls! But hopping on a boat to Caramoan seems overacting or exaggerated - you have to be carried by a man on his shoulders!

Let’s hop to the Visayas area and the next San Jose is a town in the province of Antique (Region 6 – Western Visayas). The province’s capital, this town lies southwest of the island of Panay. Sometimes this town is called (by its “full name”) San Jose De Buenavista (San Jose with a good view). This town which is about two hours away by land trip from Iloilo City is the jump-off point to so many touristic things of the province (and even Palawan's Cuyo Island Group) from historical to natural wonders. Don’t miss the Binirayan Festival though!

Negros Oriental (Region 7) is home of our next San Jose which is a little town that will be on your way from Dumaguete to Bais. So you guessed it, this town is in that very long line of beaches that this province is well endowed with. In May, watch out for what they call the Ayuquitan – a street dancing festival just like Sinulog, Kasadyaan, Masskara etc. Now you will remember that the whole island (oriental and occidental negros) has the most number of festivals in this country aside from the most number of cities hehe. And this San Jose belongs to Negros Oriental. And hey, this is the nearest portion between the islands of Negros and Cebu! Right across the waters of San Jose is already Santander in the province of Cebu!

Still in the Visayas, our next San Jose is a town on the northern tip of the island of Samar (Northern Samar, Region 8). Ah this San Jose is interestingly rural and I hope it does so for many years – if only to ensure that the natural wonders of the place remain unadulterated by commercialism! There are a umber of islands and islets across town that seem interesting to visit. But its not (yet) easy to hire any of the boats for this. Some wouldn’t like to venture out into parts that are purportedly “enkantado” and so on. Nearby, about a kilometer or two to the west is the famed Biri Island – that at least is frequented by locals during excursions. Am not quite sure but I think I saw migratory birds on some of the islets. Oh, a few minutes walk from the town of San Jose there is what they call Honeybee Falls!

Going down to the province of Western Samar is a town called San Jose De Buan. This is hintertown and not easily reached. But the wealth of natural wonders in there abound. There are falls, rivers, rapids, caves and the interesting things on them. At Blanca Aurora falls, there is a rather warm spring (ok hot spring if you like) where we had fun trying to catch freshwater shrimps that were alive but already red in color – probably because of the water temperature. How did we attempt to catch them? With bare hands or with our t-shirts! During summer months, the rapids and waterfalls are thin and spectacular while during the wet season these very same beauties of nature could be rampaging giants! Oh, there are no tour guides. You just ask around or talk to the locals (preferably the local officials) and hope someone will agree to accompany and guide you! This is adventure paradise!

Finally, going further south and below Samar island is another San Jose in the province of Surigao Del Norte (CARAGA, Region 13). This is on the western side of Dinagat Island just nearby the famous surf capital! White beaches abound here and do take a look at what they call a “mini-dam park” then wonder how the rice terraces can morph into many other things hehe! This town is just north to the mining town so it can be part of the industry sooner. So, visit now hehe!

1 comment :

  1. 70% of Romblon citizens do not know that there is a town named San Jose in Romblon. All they know is Carabao Island. If you are referring to the town's name, the people in Romblon including neighbooring Aklan will call the town as Hambil, the popular and local name of Carabao Island's Poblacion.