Anini-y Church, a gem at Antique’s end
Panay Island is like a triangle with the province of Antique, a long sliver of land and mountains by the sea stretching from one end to the other, at the western side. At the province’s end, a beautiful Spanish colonial era church, probably the only intact one in Antique, the rest are in ruins, can be found. Made from cut coral stones, it has interesting details at its facade, a wide front dominated with large acacia trees while its kumbento found a few meters at its right.The town of Anini-y may have derived its name from the local anini, meaning place of small rivers and was first settled by wandering fishermen from Hamtic, the original capital and namesake of the province, and by migrants from the island of Cagayancillo in the early 1600s.
Originally a visita of Hamtic, with an Augustinian priest coming over once a year, it became a separate parish only in December 1861 but took effect March 1862. With the lack of religious, the Seculars administered the town until 1875 when an Augustinian, Fray Romualdo Crespo was appointed parish priest. Cagayancillo was separated from Anini-y in 1895.According to Pedro Galende, OSA in his book Angels in Stone, the first church (33 meters by 13m) was erected between 1630 and 1635. A second and longer structure (48m x 12.5m) was built later, in 1845, close to the foundations of the first.
In 1878, Fray Jeronimo Vaquerin arrived and finished the kumbento. He also started replacing the second church with a new one of masonry. By 1894, it was already roofed but in 1898, at the outbreak of the revolution against Spain, the church was almost finished. It was bigger than the previous two at 65m x 16m x 10m with one nave.
In 1902, when the church was vacant, it was used by the Aglipayans and in 1906, the Mill Hill Fathers, a religious congregation arrived from England who then administered the spiritual needs of the town. One fortunate thing that happened to this structure was the appointment of Fr. William Erickweld. While some churches in Panay were totally renovated, the priest instead restored the edifice to its current state.