The last time we went to Pila, I asked my husband to stop by the shoulder of the National Highway so I can take pictures of the colorful sunset by the rice fields. I love to take pictures of the sunset, but I didn't have one taken by the rice fields yet. It was quite a challenging shoot, as the farmer just burned some dried rice stalks and the smoke covered the sunset. After a while, the smoke subsided and actually added some rural character to my pictures.
You can walk through the heritage town of Pila in less than an hour. In fact, you won't get lost. You only have to walk the streets around the town plaza to appreciate the well preserved ancestral homes.
Pila is often likened to Calle Crisologo of Vigan. Personally, I feel they are alike only because it is a compact community with the town plaza as center of the town, plus the basic elements of a town near it: a Catholic Church, a school adjacent to it, a local government building, and ancestral houses. Pila no longer have "kalesas" or horse-driven carriages, while Calle Crisologo's main mode of transportation is the "kalesa". Pila's town plaza is not filled with commercial stalls, while Vigan's plazas are more alive with food stalls.
As long as there is no ongoing mass, the church staff would be willing to guide you inside the church for a tour. Although the retablo (tabernacle) has been renovated, the antique look still remains, with its antique chandeliers, Stations of the Cross, and well preserved religious vestments and artifacts in the sacristy. I'm not sure if the pulpit and choir loft are the original structures because they looked new. Either they are well maintained antique structures, or they are newly constructed copies of the original design. I forgot to ask our guide.
Sta. Cruz (capital of Laguna)-bound buses from Manila will pass by the town's plaza. Pila is still around 1-1/2 hours away from the end of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). If driving, just follow the national highway after the SLEX. You wil pass by the towns of Calamba (birth place of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal), Los Banos (hot spring and resort capital of the Philippines) and Victoria before reaching Pila.
Being a small town, the locals know almost everybody, and would know newcomers/visitors in the town. They are generally hospitable, eager to help visitors/tourists with a smile, and would go out of their way to actually accompany you when you ask for directions. And when they talk about their town, they would volunteer almost all the information you need... sometimes being talkative to a fault :-)