Manila – On December 15th, Simbang Gabi begins. The Simbang Gabi originated in the early days of Spanish rule as a practical compromise for farmers who started their day before sunrise to avoid the heat while working in the fields. Priests began to say Mass in the early mornings instead of the evening novenas more common in the rest of the Hispanic world. This cherished Christmas custom eventually became a distinct feature of Philippine culture and is a symbol of sharing. During this season, many people come to the church to join and participate in this event with different prayer intentions. People believe that if you completed the 9 day novena masses their prayers will be answered. But it isn’t only intend for that, this tradition demonstrates how religious the Filipinos are.
At around 8:00 in the evening, Simbang Gabi started at the Guanella Center. Hundreds of people attended the mass including residents from the Guanella Home. Each night, different groups from the ministry sponsored the mass. The nine-day novena of masses ended with the celebration of Missa de Gallo, held on the ninth day. Before Holy Mass ended, the people lined up to pay homage and kiss the statue of baby Jesus. After Missa de Gallo, the Religious Community with the residents enjoyed and shared Noche Buena, a traditional salo-salo, as a sign of one happy and united family. After Noche Buena, there was a short program, games, dancing and other exciting activities which everybody enjoyed. During the program, Bro. Bob Neimeyer, dressed as Santa Claus, distributed gifts to the residents and to the priests, brothers and seminarians. The whole night was filled with joy as they celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. May this New Year begin with a big smile not only on our faces but most especially in our hearts. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all. God bless!