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Laguna: Pila Church

Located in the municipality of Pila in Laguna, Pila Church is one of the many well preserved Spanish-era churches in the province.

Also known as San Antonio de Padua Parish Church, like what its name suggests, it is dedicated to St. Anthony de Padua who is also the patron saints of travelers, pregnant women,  poor people, and even animals. Pila Church is also the first Antonine parish church in the Philippines. It was founded in 1578 using the cane plant as the primary material. In 1599, Pila Church was reconstructed using stone. 
Old photo of Pila Church
Shocking as it might seem, it actually took 18 years before the reconstruction of the church and its rectory was finished.  Due to the persistent flooding caused by Laguna de Bay, the church was transferred stone by stone to its present location in 1800. Only the ruins of the bell tower was left in its original location in Pagalangan (now part of Victoria, Laguna).
Church facade
Church facade and the liceo "school" beside it
Church historical marker
Church interior

Church retabolo/ altar
One of the tombstones found inside the church
Another view of the retabolo
The patron saint of the town
Like most Spanish-era churches in the province, Pila Church also played a part during the Philippine Revolution. The church and its rectory was often used as headquarters by both Spanish and Filipino forces as they vied for control of the town. When the Americans came and decided to be the next "masters" of the Filipinos they used the belfry of the church as observation posts. Sadly, it was reported that during this occupation of the church, plenty of priceless church artifacts were looted or destroyed. Years later the church would be miraculously spared from bombing during the bombing of the province during the Second World War.
The Liceo de Pila beside the church (A parochial school)
The bell tower of Pila Church
Some devotees whip their backs in penance
We got to visit Pila Church during our Laguna-Quezon visita Iglesia. The church was actually the second church in our list. Prior to our visit, I was actually intrigued when I googled about the church because according to Don Jose Pelaez (an Alcalde Mayor of the town during the Spanish-era) Pila Church was "the most beautiful church in the province of Laguna". I have to admit, this church made me excited for our Visita Iglesia. Upon seeing the old church, I have to say that it was indeed beautiful. However, I can't second Don Pelaez that it really is the most beautiful church in the province" because I haven't seen all the other old churches of Laguna.
My daughter posing for the camera
Families doing the stations of the cross
Overall, Pila church is a must visit old church in the province. Pilgrims and history buffs would surely like the rustic feel not only of the church but also of the town. (The town proper of Pila boasts plenty of old houses that you should see.)

Getting there:

Ride a Green Star bus bound to Sta. Cruz Laguna from either Buendia or Cubao. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Pila. The trip would take about 2-3 hours depending on the traffic conditions.
Yup you're on the right track

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