Simbang gabi is the nine days of Christmas vigil mass, a Christmas tradition in the Philippines. It starts on the 16th of December and ends on the 24th. Attending simbang gabi is one of the main reasons and the essences of why we celebrate the holidays. Our lolas and lolos make us believe that when we complete the nine masses, our prayers and wishes will come true. Isn't it a wonderful source of motivation?
The cool breeze of December feels so good when you’re at church with your family. Even though there are many churches in our communities, there are more options around the Philippines that are worth the short journey for their glorious pasts and unique design.
Basílica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebu
The Basilica Menor del Santo Niño is the Philippines' oldest Roman Catholic church. It was introduced by Spaniards led by Fr. Andres de Urdaneta on April 28, 1565. Locals decorate the outside of the church with Christmas lights during Simbang Gabi, highlighting the church's historic Baroque architecture.
Naic Church (Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception)
The Diocesan Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1839. Due to a shortage of funding, the church was first built without a bell tower until it was finished in 1892. The crack in the Bell Tower was preserved because it left a historical imprint during the war; it was caused by a Cannon fired directly from Corregidor Island.
San Agustin Church
One of the oldest and most prominent parishes inside the historic city of Intramuros is San Agustin Church. San Agustin church is recognized by UNESCO as a historical heritage site. Due to war and natural calamities, the San Agustin church was rebuilt three times. The church is still a gem of Intramuros' Walled City. In fact, you can appreciate the stunning murals on the walls and ceilings of the church while attending mass.
The Mother of all Churches, Cathedrals, and Basilicas of the Philippines. Another noteworthy church in Intramuros is the Manila Cathedral, popularly known as the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica. It has marble chapels, altars, and pulpits and is 3,000 square meters in size. It is almost 400 years old and has survived World War II, much like the other cathedrals during the war.
As a deeply Catholic country, the Philippines devoutly observes Simbang Gabi. As children, we grow up grumbling and mumbling about having to wake up before the crack of dawn to observe this religious tradition. However, as we grow, we learn to love and cherish the memories, prayers, and journeys we experience during the Christmas holidays.