Pan-ay or Panay is a small town in Capiz and you probably have never heard of it. Or you might have encountered it while trying to find the best sights in the province of Capiz. Like in my case, I accidentally learned about it from reading blogs on what Capiz can offer to tourists.
My travel was not, however, centered on Capiz. My destination was the Islas de Gigantes of Carles, Iloilo. Since our point of entry was Roxas City, I browsed through the Internet for nearby tourist sites. And that was how I found out about the town of Pan-ay. Well, of course, my mind was preoccupied with the sight and taste of seafoods in Roxas as the city is tagged as the unofficial “Seafoods Capital of the Philippines”.
Upon arriving at Roxas Airport, you don’t have to worry how you can get to the town centre. There are no jeepneys. You can take tricycles that can carry 5-6 passengers. We asked the driver to guide us to a local restaurant where we can have breakfast. He drove us to Baybay Beach. We set our standards for seafoods just for this trip because we thought that we would be “walking” on a carpet of grilled fish, sizzling squid, raw shells. We were disappointed with the food stalls along the beach. Or maybe 7:30 AM was too early in that part of the country? Oh geez, I forgot, people in the province wake up early and do chores, but they start moving out of their abodes only by 9 or 10AM.
It was gloomy that day and I did like it, except for the occasional drizzles. The church of Panay presented itself with grandeur and rustic charm. Its facade can calm you in an instant. I can assure you that you will immediately fall in love with how the coral stones were made as the walls of the church. When you get closer to the walls, you will notice small holes common to sedimentary rocks.
I was surprised to see also tomb markers inside the church, like those inside the St. Paul’s Cathedral in Vigan.
The bell that you can see at the right side of the church is just a replica of the real one, which is hanging at the church belfry.
The bell is considered to be the biggest in Asia that is still being used. According to my research, it was made in 1878 from melting 70 sacks of gold and silver coins donated by the local people. It measures 7ft in diametre, 5ft high, and weighing over 10 tons. The tour guide of the church mentioned that there used to be bell sounds for different occasions, such as calamity, funeral, wedding, happy celebration etc.
The tower has been reinforced to withstand typhoons, earthquakes and other natural calamities. Additional feature: 9 older bells are also hanging in the tower.