Layout and Architecture
Explore Pila’s rich heritage treasure, its intricate design and architecture. Written Estan Cabijas in his article
Pila: Heritage Town, Heritage Architecture published 2012.
Don Felizardo de Rivera founded Nueva Pila, the town designed with the gridiron layout following the traditional Spanish town-plaza complex where the church and convent are located on one side of the spacious plaza, the Municipal Hall and school at the other and the rest, the homes of the principalia the prominent families of the town.
This setup led to the terms taga gitna, from the center, and taga labas, referring to the indios, natives, who were residing at the periphery.
The main street, Calle Rivera cuts the town and connects it to the old settlement of Pagalangan, now in the municipality of Victoria.
Pila was a rich and prosperous town due to its fertile soil and the principalia’s houses were made of the grand bahay-na-bato structures, the Filipino noble house, typical of the period.
A bahay-na-bato, literally, stone house, is a Filipino evolution of the humble bahay kubo, the traditional house made of light materials typically with the living quarters raised from the ground to protect the inhabitants from wild animals while the lower part became storage area or was fenced as animal coop.
Most of the structures are of the Commonwealth American period (post-Hispanic era) and it is interesting to note that the Antillan style, the Filipino version of the Spanish colonial architecture that developed in the islands is still very much apparent.
Wide capiz shell windows open to airy and meticulously decorated interiors with intricate carvings and colourful painted ceilings. Beautiful wrought iron grills with different designs, depending on the house, cover ventanillas. Balustraded grand staircases made of cement are typically found at the side of the house leading to the caida. Most still retain the bahay-na-bato template with the lower portion made from cement and retaining the wooden upper levels.