Who would have thought that structures originally built for renewable energy would become tourist attractions themselves?
Mention wind farms in the Philippines, and most probably – the one in Bangui, Ilocos Norte would definitely come to mind. Thankfully, people need not go up north to see renewable energy windmills. The town of Pililla in Rizal, located east of Metro Manila, is host to one. I had the chance to visit the famous Pililla Wind Farm two years ago, during the 2018 Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) long weekend in April.
Pililla’s high elevation and wide, open spaces make it the perfect location for such a wind farm. The wind farm also provides a good view of Laguna de Bay and Talim Island. The twisting asphalt roads going to Pililla town pose a challenge for both bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts, who are then rewarded with a scenic view afterwards. This asphalted road is part of the Marikina-Infanta Highway or MARILAQUE (Marikina, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon) Highway, named after the areas the highway traverses. The accessibility provided by the highway makes Pililla a budget-friendly weekend destination, alongside other far-flung towns in Rizal and neighboring Laguna.
Now, onto the windmills themselves. The Pililla Wind Farm can produce 54 megawatts of electricity per year, which is enough electricity for around 60,000 households. Electricity from the wind farm is directly transmitted to the Luzon grid, making it an important contributor of much-needed energy. The wind farm came about as a joint venture of both the local government of Pililla and Equis Energy (now Vena Energy). You might notice that I’ve had some pictures at the Equis Energy sign before the actual windmills. This is because during that time, a close friend of mine worked at the company before leaving to find better opportunities. It’s akin to a shout-out to him from me.
The Pililla Wind Farm attracts as many as 130,000 visitors weekly, more so during the Holy Week. This ranges from weekend warriors and road-tripping families, to students on educational tours. A lot of Pililla’s residents have capitalized on the potential revenues brought about by the tourism in the area. The visitor’s center in the area has information panels discussing the windmills and renewable energy, and also sells souvenirs like T-shirts, keychains, stickers, refrigerator magnets, and more. A few dining establishments serving bulalo (beef shank and bone marrow soup) have popped up in the farm’s vicinity, mirroring that of the ones in Tagaytay facing Taal Volcano.
As of this moment, there are plans to expand the wind farm up to the nearby town of Mabitac, Laguna. The Sierra Madre mountain range passes by the eastern portion of Laguna, providing high vantage points for building additional windmills. Additional windmills, in turn, equate to more megawatts of renewable electricity produced and less carbon emitted in the atmosphere. All in all, I definitely recommend the Pililla Wind Farm as a good attraction to visit without the need to drive far.
Until the next post!