First let me greet you all a blessed Christmas. It’s been a crazy year with a lot of highs and lows. But Christmas is here to remind us to count our blessings instead and see the world in a different perspective. I can’t say that things have all been good seeing the tragedy that happened to our brothers in Mindanao. But it shows that there is hope for humanity seeing the great outpour of support from people giving what little they can offer. This season, I revisit Simbang Gabi on some of the popular churches in Manila to capture a Filipino tradition.
I already wrote about Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo before but it would be nice to go back to it again. Honestly it’s also to rebuild some images I lost when I shot Simbang Gabi 2 years ago. Just a brief background, SImbang Gabi is a Filipino Tradition which starts on December 16, 9 days before Christmas where people would go to church as early as 4am. It’s a tradition started by farmers so they could go to church before heading to the farm. It’s also a religious preparation symbolizing the 9 months Jesus spent on the womb.
The practice of Simbang Gabi though has changed in modern times. Some would prefer going to church in the evening instead of early mornings. The church is not only the venue but malls as well where it’s convenient. There are even online streaming sites of Simbang Gabi.
What’s nice though about going to Churches for Simbang Gabi is that they are neatly decorated with beautiful lighting and Christmas ornaments. At the Manila Cathedral, the loud speakers play a beautiful instrumental of Filipino Christmas songs heard all throughout the plaza opposite the church. Aside from the magnificently lit facades, both the Cathedral and San Agustin Church offers church goers some free porridge to warm and fill people’s tummies.
It’s great that Filipinos are keeping this tradition alive no matter which way it’s done. I do hope that during Simbang Gabi, you include in your prayers the well-being of the people of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. It’s just heart breaking seeing the devastation in the area. It’s the perfect time to give to those in need this Christmas. Good thing there are lots of ways to help Typhoon Sendong victims. If you have a charitable institution you’ve been helping out, that’s a good place to start. You may also check out Philippine Redcross on How to Donate. Let’s make Christmas Merry to all! 🙂
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.