History of Pila

Pila Historical Society Foundation Inc.

Don Felizardo de Rivera (1755-1810) Fundador

The pros had recaptured the local offices in the same year (1804). Now their true leader emerged in the person of Don Felizardo de Rivera, the eldest of the Rivera brothers. He had been the town executive from 1792 to 1793 but apparently chose to stay in the background during the long litigation. Instead, he had been quietly drawing up gridiron plans for the new site; necessity had transformed him into a self-taught town architect. He had patiently kept these plans against the day when the transfer would become an officially sanctioned reality. To implement them, he again served as the gobernadorcillo in alternate years, starting in 1805, then in 1807, and finally in 1809. He died in 1810 and the first of his four sons, José de Rivera, took over the post in 1811. Because of his dynamic leadership during the transition and his orderly design, which both evoked and deserved the ancient name of the town, Don Felizardo is considered by his town mates as the founder of Nueva Pila (Santiago 1983; Rivera 1810; Lipa Diocese 1910-60; Eulalia Bartolomé y Rivera 1971 interview). (40)

Since the Riveras had been prominently established in Pagalangan for at least four generations, it was neither an easy matter for them to abandon their ancestral soil. Although they subdivided Sta. Clara, retaining all the residential lots around the rectangular plaza between the church and the town hall, they had to donate the rest to the distressed citizens and local church and state. The clearing and development of a hitherto dormant section of Pila contributed to the expansion of its agricultural economy. The Riveras further pledged their spiritual and material support to the church in perpetuum up the last of their line (Santiago 1983; Rivera 1810). The new town acknowledged its gratitude by christening the principal street “Rivera,” which connects it like a long umbilical cord to Pagalangan. Two parallel streets were named for their family allies, “Ruiz” and “Oca.” As a consolation for the contras, one street farther east was named “de Castro.” The grandmothers of the Ruizes and the de Castros were also Riveras. (41)

By late 1811, the old church was virtually the only building left languishing in Pagalangan. The isolated but still pulsating heart and soul of Pila Antigua, the temple was torn down and transplanted almost stone by stone to Sta. Clara to infuse new life into the new town. (42) Pila, along with its archival records, has survived a revolution, two wars and various natural calamities, all except floods, which never bothered the town again.