CAPTIVATING CAPIZ: The Big Bell of Sta. Monica Parish Church in Pan-ay, Capiz

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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 historians.

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 fa├žade. 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 ;)


Climb 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 – Php100.00.

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

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 Tours
Contact Numbers: +63 995-335 7310; +63 999-430 0133
Email Address:

This 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.

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