Events, Holidays, Landmarks, Newspapers, Published Works
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Davao’s Simbang Gabi

Simbang gabi in San Pedro Cathedral by Jojie Alcantara

Simbang gabi in San Pedro Cathedral © Jojie Alcantara

 

Davao’s Simbang Gabi
Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (published in SunStar Davao on Dec. 21, 2011)

The Misa de Gallo (“Rooster’s Mass”) in Spanish and Simbang Gabi (“Night Mass”) in Filipino is a highly celebrated and one of the longest Filipino traditions which we hold until the present.  It is a nine-day dawn ritual of novena of Masses which is a very important Christmas tradition that starts on December 16, and which Catholic churches hold.

 

Simbang Gabi in Shrine Hills by Jojie Alcantara

Simbang Gabi in Shrine Hills © Jojie Alcantara

 

This tradition is considered a public devotion to obtain special graces and an opportunity of showing your faith to God. It is believed that upon completion of the nine Masses, a devotee’s special wish will be granted.

After the Mass, devotees enjoy the traditional Filipino food being sold outside and within church premises, and these are typical painit (snacks) of native delicacies: like bibingka, putò bumbóng, with hot tea (salabat), and chocolate.

According to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila website, the Simbang Gabi traces its roots in Mexico when, in 1587, the Pope granted the petition of Fray Diego de Soria, prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolman, to hold Christmas mass outdoors because the Church could not accommodate the huge number of people attending the evening mass.

 

Simbang Gabi in Shrine Hills by Jojie Alcantara

Simbang Gabi in Shrine Hills © Jojie Alcantara

 

Today, the spirit of the Simbang Gabi is still being preserved despite modernization of the tradition. Church bells are still being pealed before Mass begins, Christmas music is being played all over town, while colorful lights and parols adorn every street and house.  Additionally, midnight sales and bazaars are booming all over town.

 

Simbang Gabi in Shrine Hills by Jojie Alcantara

Simbang Gabi in Shrine Hills © Jojie Alcantara

 

In Davao, the tradition is even more significant because we do not celebrate Christmas in a loud way. This season is a special moment for families and loved ones to gather together and celebrate the nativity of Christ as well as give thanks to blessings received the whole year round.

Early dawn, we went around capturing familiar and nostalgic scenes of Simbang Gabi being observed in Shrine Hills and San Pedro Cathedral.

It is not only a season of gift giving, but a renewal of faith as well.

* * * *

(published in SunStar Davao on Dec. 21, 2011)

Davao’s Simbang Gabi © Jojie Alcantara

Davao’s Simbang Gabi © Jojie Alcantara

 

Mabuhay Magazine Dec 2013 issue

Mabuhay Magazine Dec 2013 issue

 

 

View more in my photo gallery

Filed under: Events, Holidays, Landmarks, Newspapers, Published Works

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The author is a multi-awarded photographer, journalist, and artist whose works are featured in tourism campaigns (It's More Fun in the Philippines), covers and spreads of books and international magazines. A long time columnist of SunStar Davao, she is a frequent traveler in search of inspirational heartwarming stories of human interest. She is also an  influencer and motivational speaker who gives photography workshops in universities and organizations. A former TV personality, she has done several print and TV commercials, event hosting and speaking engagements. In 2013, she has received an award from the City Government of Davao for her significant contribution in the social media. She was one of the speakers in Photo World Asia 2017.  A web designer/blogger since the 90s, she has seen the evolution of the internet and social media transition from the perspective of a traditional media person.

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  1. Pingback: A beggar’s prayer « scene stealer

  2. Pingback: Our Silent Christmas « scene stealer

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