This visita iglesia series focuses on the different churches in various areas in the country that can be followed as a guide for the much observed Filipino Catholic Lenten tradition of the Visita Iglesia. This part focuses on the Spanish colonial era built churches in Capiz province in Panay Island.
Panay (or Pan-ay) Church is the grandest of the Spanish colonial era churches in the province of Capiz and is one of the most beautiful in the island with its simple facade a blending of the baroque and neoclassic styles. Built at the mouth of the river of the same name, it is the first town in the island to receive the Catholic faith in 1566. It was founded on 1572 under the advocacy of St. Monica.
The first structure was destroyed by a typhoon in 1698. The current church was built in 1774 by Fray Miguel Murguia is made of coral stones and is in the form of a Latin cross. It has beautiful baroque retablos, a large central one and three minor ones all done in hardwood.
One notable aspect of the church, which made it famous, is the massive bell, the Dakong Linganay, as it is affectionately called, said to be the largest in the country. It was cast in the 19th century by Don Juan Reina from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople.
El Puerto de Capiz, the original name of Roxas City was made a visita of Panay in 1693 and was declared an independent parish in 1707 under the advocacy of the Immaculate Conception.
The first church was destroyed by the same typhoon that devastated the church in Panay. The second church was built in 1728 but was destroyed again, this time, by an earthquake in 1787. The present structure was started in 1870 built by Fray Apolinar Alvarez and finished before he died in 1885.
Of the six churches in Capiz, Dumalag (originally, Ayombon) is the farthest and out of the way. Without a private vehicle, one can take the bus, jeep or habal-habal but only at a certain time in the afternoon.
The parish of St. Martin of Tours in Dumalag was established in 1590 with the first structures built between 1600 and 1720. The present one was built in 1833 by Fray Agustin Duran but, according to Fr. Pedro Galende in the book Angels in Stone, Fray Angel Abasolo may have built or rebuilt from the previous between 1866 and 1881 at the cost of 50,000 pesos.
The church is made from yellow sandstone with a rather curious but simple facade: a very reduced pediment, like the one in Dao. The slender five storey belfry is constructed attached to the church.
The Parish of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Dao (formerly Dibingding or Mandruga) was founded in 1836 through a decree by Governor General Pedro Salazar. Fray Agustin Alvarez started the present church in 1865. Made from coral stones, the two story structure is a bit off with a solid and wide first level topped by a rather small pediment that seemed to be constructed as an afterthought. Unfortunately, the original surface of the facade was roughly peeled off, exposing the soft stone that will put it at the mercy of the elements.
Dumarao was accepted by the Augustinian Order in 29 April 1617 under the patronage of Nuestra Senora de la Natividad but an 1848 document also says that it was founded in 1705 under the advocacy of the Nuestra Senora de las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snow). The structure has simple facade with a three tier belfry at its side.
A fire broke out in November 2009 and gutted the church and the attached school. Check this post for more info.
Loctugan was founded in 1834 as a visita of Capiz (now Roxas City) and was separated as an independent parish in 1840 by a decree of Governor General Lardizabal under the advocacy of Sta. Teresa de Avila. A temporary church was constructed in 1855 and the present one in 1875 using mortar and stones. It was finished with a brick facade in 1885 by Fray Jose ma. Velasco.
The church was remodeled in the late 20th century with the facade covered with cement and bricks thus losing the original style of the structure.