Pan-ay Capiz: Ringing the Largest Church Bell in the Philippines
After spending lunch at Roxas City, we went our way to Pan-ay, Capiz. A few kilometers away from the capital, the surrounding gradually turns from a bustling provincial city to a laid back and quiet town. Surprisingly, their town proper is silent during siesta time.
Pan-ay, Capiz has a lot of history in its sleeves. Some believe that in this town was the first contact of the Spaniards (men of conquistador, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi) at the island of Panay while looking for food provisions. Another was that it became the capital of Provincia de Panay (northern province of Panay because Provincia de Oton occupies the south) for two centuries before it was transferred to Capiz (today’s Roxas City). And finally, a massive church in front of a wide plaza with a massive treasure it holds, and said to be the largest church bell in Asia.
The Church of Santa Monica’s belfry, (current stone church) holds the long recognized by generations as the largest church bell here in our country. Locally known as “dakung lingganay” or simply as “big bell.” It is believed to have been conceived from 70 sacks of coins belonging to the townsfolk, it was completed in 1878.
It weighs about 10 tons, 7 feet in height and 7 feet in diameter. This humongous bell can be heard several kilometers away from the town center! Talk about administering a big parcel of land under the bajo de la campana policy of the Spanish authorities during those times!
Going up there at the belfry needs permission from the Parish Office or the church caretaker. Just visit the convent beside the church for inquiries. And by the way, during the time that I was there, the caretaker doesn’t allow taking pictures of the interior of the church due to security reasons at that time.
The church on the other hand is made of coral stone and depicts baroque architecture which was a trend in churches in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. The first church was built in 1698 yet it didn’t last long until Fr. Jose Beloso restored the church to it’s full grandeur of today in 1884. It’s foundations were built by Agustinians.
Today, it’s a cultural treasure guarded by the Panay-anons. With their history that anchors the identity of the whole island of Panay and the bells remind the people of their faith and their heritage.
Going there, you’ll take a jeep to Pilar at Banica District of Roxas City. Just tell the tricycle driver to have you brought to the jeepney terminal bound for Pan-ay. By the time you reach the small makeshift jeepney terminal, expect that you’ll be jam-packed to the brim! Fare costs more or less P10 when I went there. (Please correct me if I have the wrong fare) It’s just within 30 minutes.
Going back to Roxas City though, you’ll just have to wait for the next jeepney to pass by at the Plaza going back to the city. But take note though, they are not as frequent as Manila’s. Take time to relax and enjoy the town.