Showing posts with label Pila. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pila. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Laguna: A day in charming Pila Town

Ivan Man Dy writes about our visit to the heritage town of Pila, Laguna last summer. Text by Ivan Man Dy. Photos by Ivan Henares.

One lazy weekday, I suddenly found myself itching to go out and escape the city, an impromptu day trip. A few calls here and there and I found out that my tokayo Ivan Henares is heading south to the town of Los Baños in Laguna. I hitched a ride and that's how we found ourselves in the town of Pila.

As a heritage junkie, Pila Historical Landmark has been on my list of historic towns to visit. Funny that I've been to the farther ones like Vigan, Taal, Silay, Carcar and even Sabtang (Batanes) but never to this one which is as close as it can get to the Metro.

Now, exploring a place at your own pace has its advantages but having an insider and knowledgeable host and guide is something of a treat. And it's something that I really welcomed upon meeting Cora Relova of the Pila Historical Society Foundation.

To be honest, there is not much activity happening in Pila, a quaint little town surrounded by rice fields in this lush part of Laguna. No dramatic history, grand edifices nor high-spirited fiestas here. Not even a mall or a fast food chain. What it has however, is something that an urban rat like me find refreshing: provincial innocence and countryside charm.

Over a lunch of house specialties that included pako salad, pork chops, atsarang ubod, fresh coconut juice and an amazingly savory ginataang hipon na tabang, Cora regaled us with historical tidbits and stories of a city girl growing up in the town. According to her, Pila's fortunes are linked with its surrounding agricultural lands, no surprise really. And that wealth was eventually translated to the good life best seen in the houses around the Pila's central plaza.

Any visit to the the town will ultimately lead you here, a lovely patch of green (during the heat of summer) dominated on both sides by the Church of San Antonio de Padua (1578) and the Pila Municipal Hall (1931). This traditional colonial-era pattern has sadly been disfigured in many old towns today. As I explored the latter, I saw a plaque inside that mentions one of Cora's ancestors (grandfather perhaps) as being the municipal president in the 1900s. Roots to the town go really deep for the Relovas of Pila. Surrounding the plaza is Pila's prized collection of historic homes, most dating back to the early 1900s when that generation, alas, perhaps the last of them, still adopted the traditional bahay na bato architecture for their homes.

A century hence, most of these houses are quite well maintained and still with their traditonal details like big kapis windows, intricate kalado patterns and fluted columns. As an extra treat, Cora invited us to her cute 1920s home that was built by her grandmother and regaled us with more stories.

Over a merienda of halo-halo by the verandah, we listened to the 1970s pop band VST at the recently installed speakers in the plaza. We whiled away the afternoon and watch the day end in this small town. "Pila is is not grand. It's charming," Cora says. I couldn't agree more. For a brief moment, time suddenly slowed down in this lovely town called Pila.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Laguna: Heritage town of Pila, Laguna

Pila is the heritage town of Laguna. The historic center of the town was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute in 2000. It was known as La Noble Villa de Pila, one of the few towns in the country which was elevated to villa during the Spanish colonial period.

The center of town is an elegant collection of colorful colonial period structures located around a spacious plaza. The layout out of the town is very typical of most Spanish colonial towns. On one side of the plaza is the Pila Church dedicated to San Antonio de Padua. On the opposite end of the plaza is the charming Pila Municipal Hall dating back to the American colonial period and painted in brick red. And on the west and east sides are the elegant homes of the town's principalia.

Pila's house colors come in shades of brown, pastels and white. This was how houses were painted during the Spanish and American colonial periods. It was not all white.

The town has a very active heritage conservation group, the Pila Historical Society Foundation, Inc. which has continuously led efforts to preserve the heritage of this genteel town. Here's a map of historic structures in Pila, Laguna if you want a guide while you do a walking tour.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Laguna: Visita iglesia in Pila, Pakil, Paete and more Laguna churches

Laguna has a lot of heritage churches and is a good place for visita iglesia. I found myself on the road again last Palm Sunday in Laguna. After speaking at the Rotaract District Conference 2010 in Bay, Laguna, I decided to explore again the Laguna towns along Laguna de Bay since I was there anyway.

My first stop was Pila, which is Laguna's heritage town and a National Historical Landmark. I'll showcase more of Pila's old houses in another post. Pila Church is dedicated to San Antonio de Padua.

Further down the road is Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan, which has a very iconic welcome arch built during the late 19th century. Sadly, the interior of the Pagsanjan Church has been renovated already but the exterior is still relatively intact. Notice also the Spanish colonial casa municipal beside it which is badly painted though.

Lumban is a town known for its embroidery. It's a good place to purchase de calado barong and dresses. You could also check out the Lumban Church which has a very interesting exterior and convento. But the interior has been renovated as well.

After Lumban is the town of Kalayaan. Look for Barangay Longos which used to be the town proper and you'll find the centuries-old Longos Church. It's quite austere compared to its neighbors. But at least the interior is relatively intact.

Paete, known for its woodcarving and paper mache, has one of the better churches of Laguna. The Paete Church has ornate retablos and several centuries-old paintings near the entrance. The church is dedicated to Santiago Mayor.

Close to Paete is the town of Pakil, home of the Turumba. Pakil Church is my personal favorite among Laguna churches, with its grand white and gold retablos and very interesting convent. This church deserves to be declared a National Cultural Treasure!

Anyway, the Turumba commemorates the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary with seven pistang lupi. The first pistang lupi is held on the Friday before Palm Sunday (the first of two feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and the seventh is done on Pentecost Sunday. During these days, the image of the Nuestra Señora de Dolores de Turumba is borne on an anda and brought around the streets of Pakil in a procession amidst dancing. Other processions are also held aside from the seven pistang lupi, the last being on the third Sunday of September, the second feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin May.

The schedule for 2010 is Unang Lupi (Viernes de Dolores, March 26), Ika-2 Lupi (Fiestang Martes, April 6), Ika-3 Lupi (Fiestang Viatico, April 12 to 14), Ika-4 Lupi (Fiestang Viernes, April 23), Ika-5 Lupi (Fiestang Linggo, May 2), Extra Lupi (Fiestang Pakileñas, May 12), Ika-6 Lupi (Fiestang Pag-akyat, May 14), Ika-7 Lupi (Fiestang Pag-Panaog, May 23) and Domingo de Dolores (September 12). Mass is at 6:30 a.m.

We drove as far as Mabitac. But it turns out, only the belfry of the Mabitac Church is intact since the church on top of the hill is totally new.

If you have more time, also visit the Majayjay Church (a National Cultural Treasure), Magdalena Church (the church where blood stains from Emilio Jacinto's battle wounds can still be found), Nagcarlan Church and San Pablo Church.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Laguna & Quezon: Heritage and culture around Laguna de Bay

What a stroke of luck! My colleagues at the Center for Kapampangan Studies were going on a cultural immersion of sorts to Laguna and Quezon so I joined the trip. I had been to all the places we were visiting but I've always kept a been-there-but-not-done-that attitude believing that there is always something new to discover anywhere you go.

I was up quite early. The group left Pampanga at 5 a.m. and I met up with them in Manila. After breakfast along the SLEX, we were off to our first stop, the town of Pila, Laguna. The historic center of the town, La Noble Villa de Pila, one of the few towns in the country which was elevated to villa during the Spanish colonial period, was declared a national historical landmark by the NHI in 2000.

The old core is an elegant collection of colorful colonial mansions located around a spacious plaza. The layout out of the town is very typical of our colonial communities. On one side of the plaza, you have the parish church. On the opposite end stands Pila's charming town hall painted in brick red. And on the other two sides, you have the homes of the town's principalia. What I like about Pila are the colors. This was how houses were painted during the Spanish and American colonial periods, bright and lively colors, with a palette somewhat similar to Mexican pastel.

The town has a very active heritage conservation group, the Pila Historical Society Foundation, Inc. which has continuously led efforts to preserve the heritage of this genteel town. They even protect the plaza from billboards and tarpaulin streamers. Check out Pila, Laguna: Keeping a heritage town beautiful.

After Pila, we proceeded further down the highway, past the town of Pagsanjan, to Lumban, a town known for its great embroidery. Just like in Taal, I bought piña cloth. I make it a point everytime I visit these embroidery towns to buy barong cloth.

From there, we were off to Paete and Pakil. But since it was lunch, we stopped over at Exotik Restaurant in Longos, Kalayaan. The concept of this garden restaurant is quite nice and it is thus a good lunch stopover point for those doing the Laguna loop. Although most of the menu is Filipino food, the restaurant got its name from the exotic food they also serve such as snakes, frogs, manta rays, etc.

Paete was just 2 kilometers from the restaurant. This town has a well-preserved church with several centuries-old murals inside. And being a wood carving town, the retablo was nicely done. Don't miss the souvenir shops since the town is known for its wood carving and paper mache.

I was quite delighted looking at the folksy paper mache figures of people in Filipino costumes which was a common theme in public parks during the American colonial period. They reminded me so much of the statues in the rotunda in Carcar. There were also paper mache fruits which looked quite real. Looking closely at each fruit, one would appreciate the effort put into each one.

From Paete, we moved to the next town, Pakil. This town has an equally impressive church which houses the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba. We felt bad that just two hours before we arrived, there was a pistang lupi which are festivities of the Turumba festival, which is done seven times from March to May. Sigh! That would have made our visit perfect! The image is brought around on an anda, accompanied by street dancing by devotees from all over.

The interior of the church was just marvelous! It's one of my favorites in the Southern Tagalog if you ask me. And the interior looked as if it were recently restored. We found out that efforts to restore it was a local initiative. I hope other towns around the country follow suit. When priests stop renovating heritage churches according to their whims and caprices, that would be the day! The CBCP should give its Commission on Church Heritage more teeth to control the tasteless damage done by many priests. And no church more than 50 years old should be touched without the go signal of the commission.

On the way back, we passed by the old church of Kalayaan in Longos. The old name of the town was actually Longos but this was changed to Kalayaan when they moved the seat of government to a different barangay. The church was right along the shores of Laguna de Bay and was well-preserved.

Since it was getting late, we decided to go straight to Lucban where we were to spend the night. Accomodations were graciously taken care of by the parish. The choir of Holy Angel University was doing a concert that night so they were staying at the old convent. Our group was housed in a charming resthouse owned by a friend of the parish. For dinner, we had traditional Lucban food which included pancit habhab, tamales, Lucban tikoy and espasol.

After watching the concert and going around the stalls set-up for the Pahiyas festival, we went back to the resthouse since we had to wake up early. The procession of San Isisdro Labrador was at 7 a.m.
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