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By LEONARDO "Nardz" Q. BELEN  0949 905 6563 * 0932 238 1616

Do you know how your hometown or city got its name, or how did it originate? Anyway, we are starting here a series on our towns and cities - how they were discovered, established and how they got their names and much more! If you know how your own town or city originated, please share it with us! It's great and enriching  to discover or rediscover our towns and cities!



IN 1565, Legaspi's Maestro del Campo, Mateo del Sanz, visited a settlement which later, in 1581, was established or founded as the municipality of Pan-ay, Capiz! It became the second Spanish settlement after Cebu. From 1569 to 1757, Pan-ay became the Cabezera (capital town) of the province of Capiz.

Pan-ay Mayor Vicente B. Bermejo (OIC-May 20, 1986 to Dec. 1, 1986 and then elected Mayor on Feb. 3. 1988), said that Pan-ay was the oldest town. Mayor Bermejo added that Pan-ay was the center of Filipino revolution in Capiz against the Spaniards. On May 4, 1898, the first historical battle against the Spanish colonizers was fought in Pan-ay!

American forces, however, took control over the entire province of Panay Island on December 8, 1899. In the beginning of World War II, Japanese forces, on April 11, 1942, seized the island. It was after the liberation that rehabilitation of Pan-ay began through the leadership of the first post-war mayor, Bonifacio Bediones!

Pan-ay is composed of 42 barangays, and its heart and center of trade and commerce, socio-cultural-political activities are Poblacion Ilaya (western part), Poblacion Ilawod (Eastern part), and Poblacion Tabuc (southern part).

How Pan-ay got its name

First version: When Malayan Datu Bangkaya saw the settlement, a vast plain, he exlaimed: "Panhay!"  Which meant plain, and that originated the name of the settlement. Second version: When the first Spaniards went to the settlement to offer food to the people, a resident saw the bread and said "Pan!" Unluckily, it was dropped and the resident exclaimed, "Ay!" The Spaniards then called the place "Pan-ay!" Third version: When the Spaniards went to the settlement they found plenty of food and exclaimed "Pan-hay," meaning plenty of food!

First Center of faith

In 1580, the Archdiocese established the Santa Monica Parish of Pan-ay, Capiz, and the construction of its historical church was completed in 1771! Bartolome de Alcantara served as its first curate. The church is now the town's foremost tourist attraction. Mayor Bermejo described the church, thus: "The thick walls are of coral blocks, the flooring of marble and Spanish red tiles. The whole structure itself is a delicate expression of the old Spanish baroque.

"Atop the five-story belfry, hangs a gigantic bell whose booming sound can be heard eight kilometers away. It is seven feet in height and diameter; seventy (70) sacks of coins were collected from the populace to finish the bell weighing 10,4 quintals (10.4 tons) in 1878. Fr. Juan Beloso was then the parish priest.

Pan-ay sits on a land area of 12,784 hectares, and is one of the 16 municipalities of Capiz located in Western Visayas.

Access From Roxas City and neighboring municipalities, Pan-ay can be reached via buses and jeepneys passing the Capiz East Road. From Manila, 45 minutes by plane to reach Roxas city airport, 19 hours by ship through Culasi Port and from Culasi Port, it takes 15 minutes to Roxas City. From Iloilo City, it takes two hours by bus passing through the Iloilo-Roxas highway. From Roxas City to Pan-ay, 15 minutes by jeepneys, tricycles or cars.

Distance from Manila: 1,600 kms; Roxas City, 7.5 kms; Iloilo City, 135 kms; and Kalibo, Aklan, 92 kms.

Municipal Executives - Spanish Period: Kapitans Benito Basques, Andres Bargas, Mariano Besa, Rufino Billones, Gregorio Villaruz, Pedro Contreras, Francisco Borres, Francisco Beluso, Fabian Contreras, Pablo Velo, Maximo Bediones, and Pio Bediones.

American Period: Presidents  Ignacio Bofill, Silverio Becares, Santiago Bellosillo, Candido Barredo, Macario Bermejo, Dmaso Bulaclac, Ramon Contreras, Nicomedes Bernales, Hilario Villaruz, Filemon Legaspi, Pablo Beluso,, SantiagoBermejo, Artemio Bellosillo, and Bonifacio Bediones.

Japanese Period: Mayors Jose Bernales, Aquilino Balmis, Mauro Buhat, and Manuel Bofill.

Post-War Period, the first ten mayors: Bonifacio Bediones, Jose Bernales, Atila Balgos, Iloy Billanes, Zacarias Barza, Luis Asis, Estrella Asis, Santiago Bermejo, Jr., Virgilio Asis, and Vicente Bermejo. (Posted May 8, 2015, Copyright 2015)