Our numerous visits to Laguna and Quezon via the so-called backdoor route along the Manila East Road always takes us pass the quiet town of Pililla, Rizal. Despite the beautiful green rolling hills and some ancestral homes in town, we were content to simply pass through Pililla on our way to other destinations. An unexpected development several months ago made us realize how much we have been ignoring this quaint town all these years. The construction of the Pililla Wind Farm have practically turned the town into a tourist destination almost overnight.
Whatever it is that makes a wind farm a tourist destination – think Bangui windmills in Ilocos Norte – is somewhat of a puzzle to us. But we weren’t looking for explanations of the sort when we detoured off the Manila East Road on our return trip to Manila from Luisiana, Laguna to see the 27 windmills resting atop the rolling hills of Pililla for the first time.
There are three clusters of windmills here connected by a road loop. Visitors can enter either through the Manila East Road that runs close to Laguna de Bay then goes uphill towards Pililla or through the Marilaque Highway at Sampaloc, Tanay.
The road to the visitors’ center from the Manila East Road is unpaved at several portions although graded. That meant a dusty though not very bumpy ride. As we drove along we began to appreciate the undulating topography featuring Pililla’s rolling hills – something we used to take for granted on our numerous drives along this corridor. A strong breeze kept blowing across our path. It was easy to see why they placed the windmills here.
We soon realized that we weren’t alone in our intentions; there was quite a number of vehicles parked outside the visitors’ center and several locals in rented trikes were also converging there. And all these on a weekday. People were all over the place taking selfies and other pictures using mobile phones and iPads. It was almost impossible to take photos of the wind turbines without people bombing our shots.
At the visitors’ center is a coffee shop and a series of info graphics. Here we learned that the 27 wind turbines are capable of generating 67.5 megawatts of electricity, which power-hungry Metro Manila nearby is all too eager to consume. Together with the Bangui and Guimaras (Central Visayas) wind farms, the Pililla wind farm is helping the Philippines become the wind capital of Southeast Asia – according to the info graphics.
The area at the visitors’ center is a flat expanse of ground with a commanding view of Laguna de Bay and the surrounding rolling hills. Sunset photos with the windmills as a backdrop would have been great here (there you go with why these structures have elicited so much tourism curiosity). However, we arrived mid-afternoon and would have to wait two hours more before sundown. Still, with this place just two hours or so away from home, it’s just a matter of time before we’re back.