Some of us, if not all,
are fascinated with everything old or ancient, Pre-Hispanic or
colonial landmarks like church, houses and fortress. We all have that
here (in the Philippines) scattered all over the archipelago. The
bricks, coral stone and the hard wood seems to be the time machine that
connects us with our ancestors. If only walls and beams could talk to
us, we could have a great picture of our past not known or written by

Minutes away from Roxas
City – the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, is a town called
Pan-ay where a century old church is standing together with its
equally historic big bell housed in its towering belfry. Pan-ay which
means “mouth of the river” is formerly called Bamban
and was the second settlement of the Spaniards after Cebu.
  The Sta. Monica Parish
Church or more commonly known as Panay Church is a 15th
Century house of worship built by Fr. Manuel Lopez. It’s the first
of its kind in the island of Panay being founded in 1698. Miagao
Church in Iloilo was founded in 1731.

Unlike many churches in
the Philippines, Sta. Monica Parish Church has a beautiful open space
in front that gave it a great view free from any obstruction. Go
ahead and pose your signature shot that would complement the Colonial
and Neo-Classical Baroque
Architecture of the church!

The Altar of the
church is as historic as the façade. It has a large central altar
and four lateral altars. The main altar is set in silver and is
fashioned by baroque decorations. Each altars is where the precious
sculptures of different saints are displayed for the appreciation of
the faithful and as well tourist. Sadly, according to our guide, the old
once were stolen and was sold to some faithful who wants a piece of
their saint. Some even bargain for the head, hand or any body parts
of the saint made of hard wood. But our guide assured to us that the
sculpture displayed in all altars are antique. Some faithful even
donated their own antique saint sculpture to the church.   You can find the original
roof truss currently displayed at the right side aisle of the church.
Touch it, seat on it or even kiss it to have a touch and sense of
history. Kidding 😉

CHURCH BELLClimb on the 160 steps
belfry and see one of the pride and treasure not just of Sta. Monica
Parish Church but also of Capiz Province. The church bell is a
product of townsfolk bayanihan and faithful spirit. The
townsfolk of Pan-ay donated 70 sacks of gold and silver coins to
create the gigantic bell. The bell measured 7 feet
in diameter, 5 feet in height and weighs 10.4 tons.   Ever wonder how they lift
a 10.4 tons bell? They used tick abaca fibers and almost all the men
of the town participated in the lifting while, maybe, their wife and
children surrounded the church and watching. I imagine a fiesta
atmosphere that time where the crowds were cheering while some
are preparing food for everybody. Just my fictional mind working 😉  

Because its 5 feet in
height and of course elevated by about 2 feet, you can go inside the
big bell, even stand inside, and have your picture taken there. Just
be sure your friend will not ring the bell while you are inside. It
could cost your ears and a lifetime rift with your friend if you are
not forgiving.

Me, Kara of and Mai of   Our guide allowed us to
hear the big bell singing in minimal volume. Enough for us to
decipher, he rang the bell and the metal vibrated for like hours.
There was a melody and the lyrics was like God is calling from
heaven. True enough the sound of the bell is very inviting thus
maybe, people from then and now remains faithful to the call of God.

  Some of the church
artifacts and memorabilia are house in Sta. Monica Museum. Sadly, the
museum is still close after Yolana’s devastation in the Visayas.
  Good thing though, you
can still pose in front of the museum’s main door, have a dramatic
or signature photo of yours then change your profile picture in
Facebook. I am sure you will.

  When you visit Sta.
Monica Parish Church, chances are you will have a guide because local
authorities wants us to appreciate not just the aesthetics of the
walls and bell of the church but also its history and relevance to us
today. Your guide knows where the best spots to take your picture.
Give him your camera and he’ll do the job for you. Just don’t
forget to give him some tip for a job well done. If you are not
appreciated in your office, please do with our guides. They need that
to improve not just their life but their skills and motivation as
well. (I’m just kidding on the office remark)

Our guide 😉   How to get to Sta.
Monica Parish Church:
  From the town, rent a
tricycle down to Pan-ay. A tricycle will cost about Php50.00 –
  For more information
about Capiz sights and attraction you may contact:
Capiz Provincial
Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office
2nd Floor,
Provincial Capitol, Roxas City, Capiz, Philippines Tel: +63(36) 621-0042
loc. 133 Email:
[email protected] Facebook:
  If you don’t have time
to do research for your seafood indulgence in Capiz you may ask Las
Islas Travel and Tours to arrange tours for you!  

Las Islas Travel and ToursContact Numbers: +63 995-335 7310; +63 999-430 0133 Email Address: [email protected] Websitewww.lasislas.phThis tour was sponsored by the Capiz
Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office of the office of the
governor. Sta. Monica Parish Church was part of the Familiarization
Tour conducted by the said office on September 27 – 30, 2015. The
Familiarization tour was done as part of Capiz Tourism Month.