THE RESTORATION & RECONSTRUCTION OF PANAY CHURCH AND CONVENT


Sta |Monica Parish in even during the Spanish period, the parochial church and convent of Panay had already undergone several restorations and reconstructions. Destructive typhoons, Moro raids and sporadic rebellions had often left these ecclesiastical structures of the Sta. Monica Parish in ruins. Early as 1994 during the term of Msgr. Romualdo A. Azarcon, an initial plan for the restoration and reconstruction of Sta. Monica church, Panay was proposed. As its parish priest Msgr. Mald had asked the benevolent assistance of the Department of Tourism and the National Commission on culture and Arts for the realization of this project. A significant milestone. However, happened. In 1997, the Sta. Monica Parish in Panay was declared a National Historical landmarks by the National Historical Institute in its Resolution No.3 series of 1997. Panay, originally called Bambam, was established in 1572. The church, constructed in 1884 under the direction of Fr. Jose Beloso who commissioned Don Juan Reina to cast a bell for the church from seventy sacks of coins donated by the town people. This bell, the biggest in the Philippines measures seventy feet in diameter, five feet in height, and weighs 10,400 kilograms. The three-century old church is in deplorable condition. Weeds and fungi had slowly deteriorated its wall. Changing weather and climate had produced cracked surfaces. Bats and other creatures had transformed the church as their own filthy shelter. The roofing system was about to collapse. But on April 18, 2001 very Rev. Msgr. Benjamin F. Advincula, P.C. was appointed as parish priest of Panay. He decided to start the renovation work of the church and reorganization of the Basic Ecclesial. On June 10, 2001 the P13.5 million project “Restore Panay Church!” was launched. The next day was indeed eventful as the renovation work started based on the project study and recommendations of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Manila. The structural plan was done by structural Engineer Buenaventura F. Oroceo and the whole venture was executed by Architect Graciano Balderama. The roofing system was demolished. Wooden trusses were change into steel and the corroded G.I. sheets were replace with CPAC Monier roof tiles. On December 2004, the blessing of the just renovated belfry, and the repository of the biggest bell in Asia, which weighs 183 arrobas (10.4tons or 23,000 lbs) took place the Spanish inscription on the bell reads: “say la vos de Dios que levare y enzalzare desde el principio hasta el fin de este Pueblo de Panay para que los fieles de Jesus vengan a esta casa de Dros q cecibis las gracias celestials” (“I am God’s voice which shall I echo and praise from one end to the other of the town of Panay, so that the faithful followers of Christ may come to his house of God to receive the heavenly graces”). The other important achievement of Msgr. Ben were the erection of the “Paseo de Evangelizacion en 1566” at the town plaza, and the creation of Muebles de Panay,” a furniture shop that utilizes the antique wood from the roof trusses which continues to aid the reconstruction effort of the parish. In 2005 the convent was also renovated. The funnel came from several donation and items sold from “Muebles de Panay”. The wood tiles used for the flooring were specially designed designed by Msgr. Ben from the old trusses of the church. The 300 year old original convent pillars made from molave were still preserved and are exposed for public display. The red tiles (tizas) used to decorate the walls came from the old flooring of the church interiors. Adjacent to the convent is the parish hall named after Fray Martin de Rada, O.S.A, the first proclaims Gospel in the town of Panay in 1566, the first Christian pueblo in the Panay island. The re-opening of the “Museo de Sta. Monica”, which houses various religious artifacts be speaking of Panay’s glorious history.



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