Church of Pan-ay or Santa Monica Church
The original church in Pan-ay was first established in 1774. A little over a century later, in 1875, a typhoon devastated that structure. It was reconstructed in 1884 and that is the church we see today. It is a fine example of the colonial Baroque style of architecture. Its walls of coral stone are three meters thick (about 9.84 feet). Renovations have been made in recent years to the roof and belfry which have suffered from termites and the ravages of time. Santa Monica Parish Church has been declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
In the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in 2013, the church was damaged once again. The patches on the walls that you see in these images are part of the repairs made to make the structure safe and sound.
The floor of the church consists of terra cotta tiles accented by white marble and black slate tiles. The black and white accent on the center aisle leads the eye to the main altar, the floor of which is entirely done in black and white tiles.
The retablos on the right and left side chapels are ornate and exquisite. The image above shows the Virgin Mary (in the top center niche) about to be crowned by cherubs. Directly below her is St. Anne, her cousin, and the mother of John the Baptist. Cherub's heads peep below the saints' niches. Two of the cherubs in the bottom band are playing the horn. A fine patina on the hardwood retablo accentuates the intricate carving of flowers and foliage. I find these altarpieces to be the real treasures in the church.
There are several side doors which have a low clearance. They are more intimate and will accommodate only a few worshippers at a time. It certainly speaks of a bygone era. Definitely no rushing out after mass through these doors.
The statues St. Augustine and St. Thomas flank the main portal on either side. Santa Monica looks out to the plaza and beyond from her niche above the main door. Eight sets of two pilasters each divide and frame the main façade into sections. A pediment crowns the top section.
Biggest bell in Asia
The Church of Pan-ay is renowned for one of its bells - a 10.4 ton bell referred to as dakong lingganay (big bell) made from 70 sacks of melted coins donated by the congregation. It is the biggest bell in Asia. The inscription on the bell reads: "Soy la voz de Dios, I am the voice of God which I shall echo and praise from one end of the town of Panay to the other, so that the faithful followers of Christ may come to this house of God to receive heavenly graces."
Pan-ay is a short 15 minute drive from Roxas City. You can hail a cab or tricycle to take you there and wait for you until you're ready to go back to Roxas.
Images by Charie