I wanted to visit another heritage town soon after seeing Taal last January. Most of those I have asked around suggested visiting Vigan Heritage Town. Well, if that place is just a stone throw’s away from our home then I would definitely include it on top of my priority list. Browsing through net, I have discovered Laguna’s very own: Pila Heritage Town.
According to Wikipedia: Pila is a 4th class municipality in the province of Laguna, Philippines. The town of Pila is site for some well-preserved houses dating back to the Spanish period as well as the old Saint Anthony of Padua Parish Church, the first Antonine church in the Philippines.
Don Felizardo Rivera, who donated his lands to the church and municipal government, is the recognized founder of Pila. He is the ancestor of prominent families in Pila surnamed Rivera, Relova, Agra and Álava.The National Historical Institute of the Philippines declared the town plaza and surrounding ancestral houses a National Historical Landmark on May 17, 2000. Two years later, on July 9, 2002, the Diocese of San Pablo proclaimed the parish church of San Antonio de Padua de Pila as the Diocesan Shrine of St. Anthony. According to Philippine historian, Dr. Luciano Santiago, it is the only town in the Philippines that is formally recognized as a historical site by both the church and the state.
We arrived here at about one in the afternoon. The unforgiving sun followed us wherever we went. The town plaza was almost deserted except for the NHI marker I have found smacked right in the middle. I almost did not see it since it was sort of lying down and was even surrounded by a rusting white fence. It would have been better if this was just erected standing up, planted near the church or near the Municipal Hall. But then, placing it at the heart of the town would have had some significance.
Pila Old Houses | La Noble Villa de Pila
|Jose Agra / Rosario Villarica House|
|Casto Maceda / Concha Monserrat House|
I was attracted to see Pila’s Municipal Center ever since I have seen a picture of it taken by Mr. Ivan Henares. However, it has already been repainted to an off-white and beige combination, giving it a subdued aura. A dark contrast to the flaming red skin it donned before.
|Pila Municipal Center|
Adjacent to Pila’s Church one can not miss Pila Museum. According to Mang Anselmo, the museum’s caretaker, this used to be an old school which was converted to the present museum and several government offices.
We gladly thanked Mang Anselmo for opening the museum for us even though it was a holiday.
We walked around the small town and took photos of every old house we met. Each has its own unique architecture and intricate design. Walking along these wonderful homes further fueled the imagination I have of long ago events. Their windows mute witnesses of what has been. Pila is a truly remarkable town, worthy to be called La Noble Villa de Pila.