I have less interest on topics of the past as compared to hubby’s great love for history and politics but whenever we visit remnants of our past, the patriot side of me do reign.
We have visited quite a few of Philippine Churches and the lack of upkeep is a distress of high concern. How we wish we put “value” in words and in acts to relics that made the “us” today that will further bridge the present to the future.
The Pan-ay Church or the Sta. Monica Parish Church was a surprise to my general impression of our heritage. The general structure demonstrated its original materials except for the belfry which obviously was modern and distinct from the rest of the design.
The Pan-ay Church is known as the house of the Philippines and Asia’s biggest bell. According to Kuya Roel, our driver/guide, the biggest bell was long lost and nowhere to be recovered and what we saw earlier at the church grounds is just a replica in memoriam. The historical inscription says:
‘This serves as a replica of the real “Dakong Lingganay” which means “big bell” located inside the belfry of the Santa Monica Parochial Church. In 1878 Fray Jose Beloso, the parish priest of Panay, commissioned Don Juan Reina to cast a bell for the Church from seventy sacks of coins donated by the townsfold. This church bell, the biggest in Asia, measures seven feet in diameter, five feet in height and weighs 10.4 tons or 23,000 lbs.”
I was saddened for a while as the idea of not seeing the big bell held me down. It occurred to me that the online pictures are just imitations to rekindle the past. But after we climbed the bell tower, the sight of another “big bell” brought relief beyond fathom.
Yes there is another bell at the tower…. I whispered, ‘oh my dear you should have read more’…
Same as the replica downstairs, its inscribe says:
‘SOY LA VOZ DE DIOS QUE LLEVARE Y ENSALZARE DESDE EL PRINCIPIO HASTA EL FIN DE ESTE PUEBLO DE PANAY PARAQUE LOS FIELES DE JESUCRISTO VENGAN A ESTA CASA DE DIOS A RECIBIR LAS GRACIAS CELESTIALES’
“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 received the heavenly graces”.
We continued our stroll and the sights at the churchyard are equally amazing - from the church walls/foundation, to the museum, the old Spanish well, the Paseo and even the stone fence at the back has shown elegance as it withstood time and nature.
Before we left, I silently prayed for Pan-ay Church to live for more generations, a living history, a living testament of time...
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