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Panay Church in Capiz: A Historical and Spiritual Marvel

The historic Panay Church in the heart of Capiz, also known as Santa Monica Parish Church, is a captivating testament to the rich cultural and religious heritage of the Philippines. With its towering belfry and storied past, Panay Church is not just a place of worship but a beacon of history and architectural grandeur that beckons travelers and history enthusiasts alike. If you’re planning a trip to Capiz, include this iconic landmark on your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.

The Largest Church Bell in Asia

One of the most remarkable features of Panay Church is its massive bell, known as “Dakong Lingganay” (Big Bell). Cast in 1878 from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople, this bell weighs a staggering 10.4 tons and measures 7 feet in diameter and 5 feet in height. It proudly holds the title of the largest church bell in Asia and the third largest in the world. The resonant tolling of Dakong Lingganay is a sound that reverberates through the town, a daily reminder of the community’s faith and unity.

The inscription on the bell reads:

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“Soy la voz de Dios que llevaré y ensalzaré desde el principio hasta el fin de este pueblo de Panay para que los fieles de Jesús vengan a esta casa de Dios a recibir las gracias celestiales.”

This translates to:

“I 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.”

A close-up view of Dakong Lingganay, echoing the rich history and faith of Panay Church.
A close-up view of Dakong Lingganay, echoing the rich history and faith of Panay Church.
A bird’s-eye view of Panay Church’s belfry, where history rings true.
A bird’s-eye view of Panay Church’s belfry, where history rings true.
The belfry of Panay Church, home to the legendary Dakong Lingganay bell.
The belfry of Panay Church, home to the legendary Dakong Lingganay bell.
A plaque displaying the English translation of the inscription on Dakong Lingganay.
A plaque displaying the English translation of the inscription on Dakong Lingganay.

A Glimpse into History

Panay Church, built in 1774, stands as one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Its construction, led by Spanish friars, showcases the classic baroque architectural style, characterized by its grandiose façade, intricate details, and robust structure. The church’s walls, made from coral stones sourced from the sea, have withstood the test of time, bearing witness to centuries of history and change. Recognized for its historical and cultural significance, Panay Church has been designated as a National Cultural Treasure.

Paseo de Evangelización: Commemorating the first evangelization in Panay in 1566.
Paseo de Evangelización: Commemorating the first evangelization in Panay in 1566.
The intricately carved wooden doors of Panay Church invite visitors into its storied past.
The intricately carved wooden doors of Panay Church invite visitors into its storied past.
A tranquil corner in the church with its ancient coral stones sourced from the sea.
A tranquil corner in the church with its ancient coral stones sourced from the sea.
The impressive exterior of Panay Church, a blend of historical significance and architectural beauty.
The impressive exterior of Panay Church is a blend of historical significance and architectural beauty.

Architectural Marvel

Stepping into Panay Church in Capiz is like walking into a bygone era. The church’s interior is adorned with intricate carvings, antique altars, and religious icons preserved through the years. The high ceilings and expansive nave create a sense of awe and reverence, inviting visitors to pause and reflect. The natural light filtering through the stained glass windows adds a touch of ethereal beauty, enhancing the spiritual ambiance of the space.

The grand Panay Church is an enduring symbol of spiritual and historical significance in Capiz.
The grand Panay Church is an enduring symbol of spiritual and historical significance in Capiz.
A stunning aerial perspective of Panay Church, highlighting its prominent place in Capiz’s cultural landscape.
A stunning aerial perspective of Panay Church, highlighting its prominent place in Capiz’s cultural landscape.
The serene interior of Panay Church is adorned with religious statues and vibrant stained glass.
The serene interior of Panay Church is adorned with religious statues and vibrant stained glass.
The old parish well, Fuente de Vida, is a historical site within Panay Church grounds.
The old parish well, Fuente de Vida, is a historical site within the church grounds.

A Place of Pilgrimage

Panay Church in Capiz is a historical landmark and a significant pilgrimage site. Devotees from across the country visit the church to pay homage to Santa Monica, the patron saint of Panay. The annual feast day, celebrated every May 4th, is a vibrant event filled with processions, prayers, and festivities, drawing crowds of faithful followers and curious tourists.

The sacred altar at the church is a place for quiet reflection and prayer.
The sacred altar at the church is a place for quiet reflection and prayer.
The magnificent interior of Panay Church showcases its historical chandeliers and sacred altar.
The magnificent interior of Panay Church showcases its historical chandeliers and sacred altar.

Visitor Information on Panay Church

How to Get There

From Iloilo City to Roxas City

1. By Bus:

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  • Head to the Iloilo North Bus Terminal located in Jaro, Iloilo City.
  • Take a Ceres Bus bound for Roxas City. The journey takes approximately 3-4 hours.
  • Upon arrival in Roxas City, you can take a tricycle or taxi to the Panay Church or Santa Monica Parish Church.

2. By Private Vehicle:

  • Drive from Iloilo City to Roxas City via the Iloilo East Coast-Capiz Road.
  • The trip typically takes 3-4 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
  • Follow the signs to the Panay Church or Santa Monica Parish Church upon reaching Roxas City.

From Roxas City Proper to Panay Church

• Panay Church in Roxas is accessible from Roxas City proper. A short drive will bring you to this historical gem. Public transportation is available, but consider hiring a private vehicle or taking a tricycle ride from the city center for a more comfortable and convenient trip.

Plan Your Visit

The church is open to visitors daily, with no entrance fee. However, donations are welcome to help maintain and preserve this historical treasure. Whether you’re a history buff, a devout pilgrim, or simply a curious traveler, a visit to Panay Church promises a memorable experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the Philippines’ rich cultural tapestry.

Panay Church Mass Schedule

  • Daily Mass (Monday – Saturday): 6:00 AM
  • Saturday (Anticipated Mass): 5:00 PM
  • Sunday (1st Mass): 5:00 AM
  • Sunday (2nd Mass): 7:00 AM
  • Sunday (3rd Mass): 8:30 AM
  • Sunday Baptism: 10:30 AM

Exploring the Surroundings

Beyond the church itself, the town of Panay offers a charming glimpse into rural life in Capiz. Take a leisurely stroll around the town plaza, visit the nearby heritage houses, and savor local delicacies like seafood dishes and the famous Capiz oysters. The warm hospitality of the locals adds to the charm of this quaint town, making it a perfect destination for a peaceful and enriching getaway.

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Nearby Attractions

While visiting Panay Church in Capiz, don’t miss out on these nearby attractions that add to the rich tapestry of your travel experience:

  • Sacred Heart of Jesus in Roxas: A serene and spiritual site, the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue in Roxas is a significant religious landmark that offers a peaceful place for reflection and prayer.
  • Ruins of Alcatraz in Roxas: Step back in time at the Ruins of Alcatraz, an intriguing historical site in Roxas. Explore the remnants of this old prison, learn about its storied past, and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding area.
  • Gigantes Island: Known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and dramatic rock formations, it is a must-visit destination for island-hopping enthusiasts.
  • Boracay: Famous for its white-sand beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a plethora of water sports, Boracay is an island paradise that’s just a boat ride away.
  • Kawa Experience in Tibiao: Head to Tibiao, Antique for a nature-filled escape. Enjoy breathtaking views, a full kawa experience, and scenic hiking trails.
  • Igtuble Tubungan View Deck: From this vantage point, take in the breathtaking views and enjoy the serene beauty of the landscape, including the majestic Mt. Tambara Peak and the waterfalls of Miagao and Guiritsan.
  • Iloilo City: A few hours away, it is known for its vibrant cultural scene, historical landmarks, and delectable cuisine. Explore the old Spanish colonial churches, visit the bustling markets, and enjoy the lively festivals for which the city is famous.

Conclusion

Panay Church in Capiz is not merely a stone-and-mortar structure; it is a living, breathing testament to the enduring faith and resilience of the Filipino people. Standing before its grand façade, listening to the toll of Dakong Lingganay, and walking through its sacred halls, you can almost hear the whispers of history and feel the palpable spirit of community. This is where the past and present converge in a harmonious blend of tradition, culture, and spirituality.

Visiting Panay Church is more than just a historical exploration; it’s an inspirational journey that stirs the soul and ignites a deeper appreciation for the rich heritage of the Philippines. As you leave, the memories of its majestic architecture, the profound silence of its interior, and the heartfelt devotion of its people will linger in your heart, urging you to carry forward the lessons of faith, unity, and perseverance.

So, whether you’re seeking spiritual solace, a touch of history, or a tranquil escape, Panay Church offers an experience that is both deeply personal and universally inspiring. Add this remarkable destination to your travel itinerary, and let the timeless beauty and profound serenity of Panay Church in Capiz leave an indelible mark on your soul.


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