It is not something you consider, just how enormous these structures are. It is really only as you walk up towards them that you see. From a distance they look like little pinwheels dancing on the tops of green rolling hills. Suddenly they are upon you and their girth alone makes you draw in a breath. These towers stand at 125 meters tall; the diameter of the wind turbines is ninety meters. They are enormous.
They have a sound too. It isn’t something you think they make. From a distance they gracefully float through the air, silently. It is when you are walking towards them you start to hear it; and as you stand beneath that the ‘whoof, whoof, whoof’ is an ever present beat. Hypnotic. A lot of people are against wind farms, I am not one of those. I love to see these majestic beasts line the horizon. I knew there was at least one wind farm here in The Philippines because we had driven past it so many times before. In actual fact there are currently six of them in operation and a plan for seven more. It was time we went to see what this one was all about.
Pililla is a small town on the southern most top of the province of Rizal about an hour and a half out of Manila. Sitting between Laguna and Tanay and on Laguna de Bay, this area is largely agricultural. Pililla sits in a natural wind tunnel making it a great location to set up a wind farm. Located up a hill, 300 meters above sea level, this one was started three years ago. It is recently completed I believe and boasts 27 turbines. The power collected can power up about 66,000 houses continuously. These ‘giant fans’ as my son calls them are so fascinating. The wind spins the turbines, which creates mechanical energy and then there are generators that somehow turn that energy into electricity. That is then transmitted and distributed to areas of greatest need.
To get there, you take the R5 up through Tanay all the way to Pililla. The road will fork, but you need to keep going left, staying on the R5. This will take you all the way up the mountain to the turn off for the wind farm. The drive up the mountain is very scenic with expansive views of the Laguna de Bay. You see fishing farms dotting the water and mountain peaks over the other side in Laguna. Sari-sari’s line the roadside selling fresh fruit.
The urge to visit the wind farm had just come to me on a whim. At a time I was feeling disconnected to so many facets of my life I needed a distraction. I also needed to get out of town into some fresh air. It was when we were driving out there, the children excitedly playing in the back of the car, the dog on my lap trying to get comfortable, that I realised that for me this was more than a day trip out of town.
My home town boasts, I think, one of the most beautiful wind farms anywhere in the world. Sitting along an expanse of the rugged South West Australian coastline, the turbines make a majestic sight alongside crashing waves and rugged terrain. For us, it is a ritual to take a drive there and walk along the boardwalk. With a son obsessed with fans in all shapes and sizes this has become a place of happiness as we delight in his excitement. The children run along and point up towards the heavens as the giant turbines turn. The wind is harsh and strong on the south coast and cheeks become rosy, being blown raw. The smell of the ocean, the feeling of that wind on my face, in my hair and whipping my body is home to me. It always brings me back to where my mind needs to be. Calm, at peace and knowing this is where my roots will always be.
Arriving at Palilla, the carpark was lined with two sari-sari’s. One selling snacks, the other souvenirs. We walked up a gravel track and the view opened out looking across the lake. It was a gorgeous sight with grey storm clouds brewing in the distance, covering mountain peaks. Wisps of blue sky peaked through clouds and the slight patter of rain drops fell on our faces. The children ran excitedly as they talked loudly of how this is just like the one back home. ‘Do you remember mummy, do you remember the snake that nearly ate you?’ Well yes, as a matter of fact I do remember the tiger snake I nearly stepped on. Not an experience one is likely to forget. ‘There are no snakes like that here, so don’t worry’ I reply, my voice floating away on the wind. The children run around with Noodle-Bug on his leash. They love having their beloved pet with us and he is having the best time ever. I stroll along the side of the mountain and take in the view of the turbines down the line. I read the information on the board about the centre and I just begin to feel okay again. This is not my real home, but for now it is the closest link I have to it, and to hear the happy chatter of my children’s voices on the wind is music to me.
Feeling replenished we head back down the hill to the car. We buy our souvenirs and the children are eager to sit in the car and have a snack. I get them settled and it is then I notice the small kiosk on the other side of the carpark to the sari-sari’s, sitting by itself. My driver has found it and he tells me he is having a snack. I order the same and I’m presented with a bowl of pork dumplings. I cover them in soy sauce and chilli and they taste amazing. Of all the random, out of the way places to find dumplings! I quickly get BB out of the car; he loves trying new foods and has recently discovered his love of chilli. He eagerly eats one and declares, to the joy of the vendor and our driver, that he just loves them.
We drive further up the mountains, through a small town called Bugarin as we try to find new vantage points for photographs. The weather has really come in now and the sky is just grey. We turn around and head back down towards home. We stopped roadside to buy fresh mangoes at just 50php for one kilo and I felt smug knowing back home in Australia they are double that for one piece.
As we continue on our way I look back and watch the turbines fade away into the storm clouds. They disappear now on the horizon and I think to myself that no matter where they sit, no matter what their stage setting, these majestic beauties will always be an incredible site to behold.
Pililla Wind Farm is about two hours from Metro Manila, take the R5 and basically just drive. It is in Waze and Google Maps
Entry is free
There are sari-sari’s selling snacks and water but not much else
There are amenities that are well kept but take your own tissue
It is said the best time is for sunset, that was going to be too late for us, plus it’s wet season, so we got there in the morning before the rain set in, and it was still lovely
There is not much to see, you cannot walk around much of the area, but the view of the lake is lovely and you can learn about how a wind farm works. It is great for the children
We stopped at a cafe in Antipolo for lunch on the way back, which makes it a lovely day trip, or continue on to Daranak and Batlag Falls.