Panay or Pan-ay is a third class municipality in the province of Capiz, Philippines. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 43,449 people. It used to be the Capital of Capiz Province.
Pan-ay is the site of the famous coral-stone Sta. Monica Church, home to the largest Catholic Church bell in Asia. The bell was made from 70 sacks of gold and silver coins donated by the townsfolk. Measuring seven feet in diameter, five feet in height and weighing 10,400 kilograms or just over 10 metric tons, the Pan-ay bell is popular among tourists visiting Capiz.
An inscription on the bell reads:
“Soy la voz de Diosquellevare y ensalzaredesde el principio hasta el fin de este Pueblo de Panay para que los fieles de Jesus vengan a esta casa de Dios a recibirlas gracias celestials.”
Translated to English, this means:
“I am God’s voice which I shall echo and praise from one end to the other of the town of Panay, so that the faithful followers of Christ may come to this house of God to receive the heavenly graces.”
The town originally called Bamban was changed by the early Spaniards to Panay, a word which means “mouth of the river.” This is also the location of a fortress built by Juan de la Isla in late 1570. The Paseo de Evangelizacion 1566 can be found in the town plaza and was erected through the efforts of Rev. Msgr. Benjamin F. Advincula. 1566 was the year the Spaniards arrived in the island of Panay and became the second Spanish settlement in the country next to Cebu.
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi transferred the Spanish settlement from Cebu to Panay in 1569 due to the lack of food. The town was formally founded in 1572 (1581 according to Jorde), although by that time Legazpi had moved the capital of the Philippines, further north, to Manila. Fr. Bartolome de Alcantara was named the prior of the town with Fr. Agustin Camacho as assistant. A prosperous town due to trade, Pan-ay became capital of captivating Capiz for two centuries, until Capiz was named capital. The town name was eventually given to whole island. After 1607, Fr. Alonso de Méntrida, noted for his linguistic studies and Visayan dictionary became prior. In the 18th century, Pan-ay was famous for its textile industry which produced a cloth called suerte and exported to Europe. In the 19th century, Don Antonio Roxas, grandfather of Pres. Manuel Roxas, opened one of the largest rum and wine distilleries in the town. The Augustinians held the parish until 1898, when administration tranferred to the seculars.
The first church was built before 1698 when it is reported that a typhoon had ruined it. In 1774, Fr. Miguel Murguía rebuilt the church, but it was later damaged by a typhoon on 15 January 1875. Fr. Jose Beloso restored the church in 1884. The church is best known for its 10.4 ton bell popularly called dakong lingganay (big bell). The bell was cast by Don Juan Reina who settled in Iloilo in 1868. Reina who was town dentist was also noted as a metal caster and smith. The bell was cast at Pan-ay from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople. The bell was completed in 1878. It bears an inspiring inscription which translated reads: “I am God’s voice which shall echo praise from one end of the town of Pan-ay to the other, so that Christ’s faithful followers may enter this house of God to receive heavenly graces.”
Sta. Monica Church - the structure was first built during the 1690s but was completele destroyed by a fierce typhoon in January 1768. The current church was re-built in 1774 through the efforts of Fr Miguel Murgia only to be severely damaged during typhoons in 1874 and 1875. the church was built by Fr. Miguel Murguia in 1774 and it was heavily damaged by a typhoon on January 17, 1875. Under the supervision of Fr. Jose Beloso, the current church was built rebuilt in 1884. By virtue of the National Historical Institute Resolution No. 3, the church was declared as a national historical landmark in 1997. The church is built in the Filipino Colonial Baroque style with Neo-Classical influence, is a grand structure of coral stone that is 70 meters long, 25 meters wide and 18 meters high. The walls are 3 meters (or about 10 feet) thick and the floor is covered with marble.. The pediment cascades gracefully down. The façade is ornamented with swags of flowers, niches and statuary. The bell tower to the left of the façade is simple in contrast to the façade. It base is planned as a quadrilateral but its upper stories are octagonal with the two sides longer than the other. To the church was attached an L-shaped convento, which had been ruined. Remnants of the covento have been incorporated into the present modern convento. Behind the church are remnants of a wall, which according to town lore was once a fortification. Attached to the sacristy is a large storage room, now converted into a Blessed Sacrament chapel.The interior was formerly divided into a central nave with flanking aisles, but in recent years, the wooden posts that marked the divisions were removed to improve sight lines to the altar. The wooden choir loft was also removed because it was damaged by termites, so were the wooden floors of the bell tower. In place the tower has an independent steel stairway that leads to the topmost floor. This floor has been reconstructed in reinforced concrete with coral stone facing. The roof of the church, already damaged by a storm in 1984 and subsequently repaired, was already in a dilapidated condition in 2000. Its wood work was rotten and was in danger of collapsing. The woodwork and roof have been replaced by a steel and galvanized iron structure. The church retains much of its original floor: terra cotta tiles, white marble and black slate as accents and for the sanctuary. The church has three altars in Baroque style. The retablo of the central altar has been painted over in silver and gold enamel, however, the side altars have hardly been touched and probably represent the original colors of the woodwork—primaries of blue, red, green, orange with gold leaf accents. These altars are unique for Latin inscriptions carved on roundels set in its reed thin columns. Behind Gospel side altar are remnants of decorative painting, also done in brilliant primaries.
Dako nga Lingganay (Big Bell) - holds the record as the biggest Christian Bell in Asia. It was cast from seventy (70) sacks of gold coins donated by the townspeople. The bell measuring 7 feet in diameter, 5 feet in height and over 10 metric tons was completed in 1878 by Doc Juan Reina, a town dentist and noted blacksmith.
Calle Revolución - the second oldest street in the Philippines after Calle Colon in Cebu City.
Paseo de Evangelizacion 1566 - can be found in the town plaza and was erected through the efforts of Rev. Msgr. Benjamin F. Advincula. 1566 was the year the Spaniards arrived in the island of Panay and became the second Spanish settlement in the country next to Cebu.
Fuente de Vida - is an old Spanish well that was restored and is now one of the major places to visit in Panay. The well is made of coral stones just like the church and was a source of water during the Spanish era.