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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.
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.
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.
To view the interior and facade of Pila's grand old houses, visit this site: http://maginoongtagalog1.blogspot.com/
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. From here you will be able to see a lot of old houses and the municipal hall; the museum, a former school, is also within the vicinity (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.
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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