One of the five municipalities in Guimaras, Buenavista is the oldest. In the old days, the province was called “Tabuk” (across), “Himalus” (revenge) or “Tilad”. The name Buenavista struck after a Spanish Governor General exclaimed that the place was, “Buena Vista!” (Good View).
The history of the town started as early as 1581 when a small settlement made up of Spaniards led by Gonzalo de Penalosa was built over the hill overlooking Guimaras Strait. He was astounded by the fine forest timber, limestone deposits that abound the place and the excellent hunting and fishing grounds which provided excellent sustenance. In 1602, the Spaniards built a wooden fort to guard against the pirates or “moros”.
The Christianization of the people of Buenavista was simultaneous with that of Iloilo when three “pueblocitos” (villages) were organized. It became part of the “visita” of Oton. After which, it was handled by various congregations. In 1742, by the Jesuits and the Dominicans by 1768. By 1775, it became part of the regular parish of Iloilo. And in 1847, it became an independent parish. The Navalas Church (inset) established in the 1800s, is as old as the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral. It is a reminder of the strong Spanish influence which ruled over the political and cultural life of the municipality then.
At the turn of the century, the development of the settlement warranted municipal status with the seat of the government of Tilad, which is now Buenavista located at the Old Poblacion. The first “Capitan” or “Presidente” was Eugenio Tarrazona. Its growth became steady that in 1918, Nagaba (now Jordan) separated as an independent municipality. In 1941, Nueva Valencia followed suit.
Buenavista has a lot of history to tell including that of General Douglas McArthur during the American Regime, whose hat was shot by two locals who, had they shot only an inch lower, would have altered the course of history. During the Japanese Regime, the Buenavistahanons suffered much under the two-week “Juez de Cuchillo” activities of Japanese troops led by Capt. Watanabi. They killed and raped people numbering up to 1,000 victims. One of the heroes who emerged from this ordeal is 2nd Lt. Salvador Militante who exchanged his life for the freedom of the 58 civilian hostages being held at the Cansilayan schoolhouse.
To end the savage cruelty to the people of Buenavista, several key men to the Confessor Government surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Forces. But the resistance movement did not die. The town was finally liberated from the Japanese on March 18, 1945. Many changes and improvements were made by the succeeding leaders of the municipality. Presently, the municipality is under the leadership of Mayor Eugenio G. Reyes and Vice Mayor Cecile C. Gumarin, MD.