Pila Heritage Site


Historical town of Pila, Laguna
Historical town of Pila, Laguna 

I have passed by the town of Pila, Laguna countless of times before, so I was already used to seeing the rows of old houses (Spanish era houses and houses built in the early 1900s) and ancient trees dotting the town center or plaza, where the grand church San Antonio de Padua (built in the 1800s) is also located. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found out only recently that Pila, Laguna was declared a "national historical landmark" by the National Historical Institute (NHI) on May 17, 2000. As a historical landmark, the Pila Heritage Site is declared preserved and protected by the NHI. It's a pity that I knew of this only recently; I should have paid proper attention to the house details and the town layout.

 Ancestral house in Pila, Laguna

The heritage site in Pila, Laguna is "a living example of a Spanish colonial town as designed by 16th century town planners." Miraculously, the town of Pila was spared from the bombings during World War II unlike its neighboring towns of Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan, which were reduced to rubble. As such, Pila was called "Bayang Pinagpala" or Blessed Town by the townsfolk.

Ancestral house in Pila, Laguna

Many students are now required to visit this site so they can easily have an idea on what Spanish-era towns looked like. Even foreign historians and researchers come to Pila as it is also declared by the NHI as "one of the most important archeological sites in the country." Pila is only the fourth town in the Philippines to be declared as a national historical landmark; the other towns are Vigan in Ilocos Sur, Silay City in Negros Occidental, and Taal in Batangas.

The Pila Historical Society Foundation spares no effort in preserving Pila's heritage town including its cultural, environmental and historic landmarks. The foundation is active in its duty as the town's caretaker. If you want to explore Pila Heritage Site, click here to see the map of historic structures provided by the foundation.

The Pila Museum, a former school, is also within the vicinity of the church and the town plaza (this was the town layout implemented by the Spanish wherein the church is the center of activity in the municipality). For your personal needs, convenience stores and dining areas are scattered throughout the town square.

Even though modern stores can be found along Pila's main road, they still managed to preserve the grand old houses. The brown house in the photo above was converted into an internet shop and a bakery. This 7-11 convenience shop successfully combined a modern store with a historical house:

old house in Pila, Laguna

This is the old house with a diner (Patio Sophia) where we had our lunch while exploring Pila, Laguna:

old house in Pila, Laguna

Sleepy Knights Castle Bed and Breakfast in Pila, Laguna
Sleepy Knights Castle Bed and Breakfast

There is also a bed and breakfast in Pila, Laguna where guests can stay overnight. However, it is not an old/historical house as one would expect similar to the ones in Ilocos or Bataan. I really hope they would offer historical house accommodations in Pila to boost tourism in the town.

Anyway, the bed and breakfast in Pila, Laguna is called Sleepy Knights Castle Bed and Breakfast. As you may guess, it is built like a castle, hence its name. For your reservations, you may contact Sleepy Knights at (049)5595270; 09202560976; 09163910926.

How to Get to Pila Heritage Site
By public transportation:
Ride a bus from Cubao or Buendia going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. If coming from Alabang, ride a bus going to Calamba and then take a jeepney to sta. Cruz, Laguna. Tell the bus conductor to drop you off at Pila town proper (loob ng Pila) because sometimes, the bus takes the highway route. Get off at the town plaza; you won't miss it because you will see the grand old church and the spacious lawn with concrete benches.

By private vehicle:
If you are coming from Manila, drive through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and take Calmaba exit. Take the national highway road and pass by the towns of Los Banos, Bay, and Victoria. Pila is the next town; turn left to Pila town proper.

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