Heritage Sites

Take a Group Photo Inside Asia’s Largest Church Bell, Only in the Philippines!

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JP Anthony D. Cuñada
JP Anthony D. Cuñada | Jun 09, 2015

You should visit the Sta. Monica Church in Pan-ay, built by the Augustinians in the 17th century. Climb up its belfry to see up close the largest bell in Asia – 10.4 tons, 7 feet in diameter, 5 feet high, made from 70 sacks of silver and bronze coins donated by the people of the historic town of Pan-ay.

In the past, the church was the center of the town, which was as wide as the reach of the bell’s ringing. The largest bell in Asia can be heard from as far as 8 kilometers away.

At the foot of the belfry is a circular tub with a stand where babies were baptized in the past. It looks like a bell hung upside down. Tap it with your palm and hear the clear sound it emits like its cousins made of silver and bronze on the belfry’s top.

The Pan-ay bell’s creation was overseen by Don Juan Reyna and finished on 21 December 1878. It is surrounded by 8 smaller bells which are mostly older. They date back from 1822, 1857, 1865, 1867, and 1885.

There's an angle where you can stand between two bells for a photograph, and the result looks like you are in a heart-shaped frame. Because a lot of tourists have requested our guide to take their pictures, he has learned to use almost all cameras and is very good in finding and suggesting different poses and angles.

Look out from one of the belfry’s windows and test how far your vision can go. In a clear day, you’ll see the mountains of Antique form a shadow in the horizon. 

As old churches are, Sta. Monica Church is made of limestones. It used to have wooden beams which were replaced by steel trusses when it was renovated.

One of those beams, however, is still intact and lies inside the church by the wall. It's around 60 feet long, 1.5 feet high, and is made from one huge molave trunk.

The wooden beams were cut into pieces and made into souvenir items. Some were cut into rectangles where each of the 14 stations of the cross where carved into each piece of wood. They replaced the original bronze stations which were all stolen from the church.

Get closer to the altar on both the right and left wing of the church and notice the original colors of red, blue, and yellow of the retablo.

The Sta. Monica Church also has its own museum. Its former parish priest emptied a large portion of the convent and installed inside what remains of the original carvings, statues, vests, instruments, and the retablo facade made of silver that dates as far back as the 17th century.

How to get to Sta. Monica Church in Pan-ay

From the Roxas City airport, rent a tricycle direct to Pan-ay for Php 100, or ride a tricycle from the airport to the Pan-ay Terminal for Php 15 and another Php 15 to Pan-ay town proper.

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