What is ‘Misa de Gallo’ aka ‘Simbang Gabi’?
Misa de Gallo is a famous Filipino tradition every Christmas season. This is ushered in by the nine-day novenas followed by dawn masses that starts on December 16. Some call it ‘Simbang Gabi’.
Waking up early at 3am to attend the Misa de Gallo also known as “Simbang Gabi” nine days in a row indeed involved a very high level of struggle especially for a mom, an employee and entrepreneur like me.
Before, when I was a child, I strongly believed in the myth that once you completed the nine masses, your wishes will all come true. But for this year, attending the Misa de Gallo was more than just praising and gratifying the Lord for all the blessings he poured to me and my family. It was also for the strong faith as a Catholic in preparation for the the birth of the saviour, Jesus Christ.
Though it was a challenge, I decided and commit to complete all the masses. And when I pledge, I always make sure I do whatever it takes! I was ready. No excuses!
Strategies that helped me fulfill my 9-day Misa de Gallo commitment:
- Church hopping. This was the highlight! It added thrill and excitement, something to look forward to every step of the way. I searched for nearby parishes and planned out my list. I wanted to choose the churches that I haven’t been into mass yet (if possible). This made me wake up everyday alert and ready. For a new driver like me, travelling to reach some new destinations contributed adventure every time.
- Always punctual mindset. I setup my daily motivation to say “I need to grab seats”, nearest to the altar by any chance. And surely, being seated comfortably helped me concentrate more. Being able to attend the ceremony from start to finish made the encounter with the Lord more intimate and meaningful. I never missed one mass without being seated comfortably.
- Thorough planning and research. In preparation for the next day’s mass, I got all the information needed. I stalked the churches’ websites and social media accounts to be aware of their schedules considering they’re not all the same. Some starts at 4am, others starts at 4:30. I shouldn’t be late. Sometimes, I looked for their contact numbers in directories and called their convents and offices to confirm. I also located their addresses in google map and planned out a route in my head to make sure I wont get lost.
- Doing it ALONE. When I’m serious about something, I tend to do it alone to measure my guts and problem solving ability. Every time I do this, it opens some opportunities to improve myself for the better.
Misa de Gallo church hopping experience
Disclaimer: The photos below are owned by me. Those were taken before the ceremonies start, during novena breaks, seated for announcement gaps and after masses. Never during the sacred celebration.
Day 1 of 9: Our Lady of the Assumption Shrine Parish – Dauis, Bohol
THE MOST FESTIVE. Well, this was homecourt advantage. It was just fun and easy. I was able to catch up with a lot of acquaintances, friends and relatives. That added some ‘cheerfulness’ to the experience.
Day 2 of 9: Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus – Mansasa District, Tagbilaran City
THE MOST EFFICIENT. The mass started on time. The homily was straight forward. Finished early.
Day 3 of 9: Immaculate Conception Parish – Baclayon, Bohol
THE MOST CHALLENGING JOURNEY. This church is located 12 km away from Tagbilaran City. It was a 40-minute trip in my case since I drive two times as slow -lol- (should be 20min though). The streets were quiet, dark and wet coming from a rain. The breeze was freezing cold. It took extra effort for me to wake up at 2:30am just to be there ahead of schedule.
Day 4 of 9: Birhen sa Barangay Shrine – Cogon District, Tagbilaran City
THE MOST COMFORTABLE JOURNEY. This church is just located within the city. I couldn’t afford to go out of my comfort zone on the 4th day because of the rainy weather. I described this as ‘comfortable’ because aside from the short travel, the ambiance was cozy, the celebration was light, the choir was okay and I was seated 3rd row from the front. All good.
Day 5 of 9: The Most Holy Trinity Parish – Manga District, Tagbilaran City
THE MOST AMAZING LOCAL COMMUNITY. I should rate this journey as the second most challenging to my Baclayon experience considering the distance. But what really struck me the most was the community. Their parish’ caroling project was announced that it garnered P100,000 just in one area (purok). Just wow! But wait, there’s more. They sorted out assigned sponsors that offered reasonable and free ‘painit’ (breakfast snacks) for all church goers. That’s rare and impressive. What a community!
Day 6 of 9: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish – Booy District, Tagbilaran City
THE BEST HOMILY. The mass started at 3:50am. 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Good thing I arrived 20 minutes early. On the 6th day, the empty seats were already noticeable which means some people did not survive anymore and too tired to wake up and go to mass. I was already slightly drained too having short sleeps days in a row. But, the priest made the homily fun and inspiring that helped the churchgoers stay awake and alert. (I forgot the name of the priest but I will search further and update the info once available).
Day 7 of 9: St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish – Dampas District, Tagbilaran City
THE BEST CHOIR. Travelling was challenging. I got lost and had to ask several people for directions. But nevertheless, I arrived safely still ahead of schedule. And oh, rated this for the best choir. See review below about KORO SERAPHIM.
Koro Seraphim Review:
Day 8 of 9: St. Vincent Ferrer Parish – Bool District, Tagbilaran City
THE MOST INFORMATIVE HOMILY. I learned a lot from a good friend of mine, newly ordained priest Rev. Fr. Jovanni Cortes. It was my first time to attend a mass with him celebrating too. On the other hand, the journey was just funny that I arrived there one hour and twenty minutes before the scheduled mass because I was too afraid to get lost again but it turned out it’s extremely easy to locate. I missed to confirm the schedule on that day too. I thought that the mass starts at 4:00am but it started past 4:30am. Poor planning there 🙂
Day 9 of 9: St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral – Tagbilaran City
THE MOST NUMBER OF CHURCHGOERS. Well, nothing astonishing though since this is the central church of the province and considering that it is the most spacious one too. Apart from that, the last day of the Misa de Gallo often records the most number of attendees probably in all Catholic churches. What d’you expect? Always, save the best for last. Christmas spirit is felt so much because of the Cantata offered by the Dela Paz Choir.
And I succeeded on a perfect note! I hit my goal with flying colors. I was never late, never hesitant, consistently excited and thankful from the day one to day nine. Nine churches. Nine different journeys. A lifetime of memories.
What I learned from this experience is that we really have the power to achieve what we want if we’re genuinely committed to it. What we need is just to go out of our shell, establish a solid self discipline and an extraordinary faith in God.
I never regretted this brave move I made. My Misa de Gallo 2016 Church Hopping experience was indeed a memorable one. Im planning to do it again next year. Or maybe I will level it up: from parish hopping, to town hopping, or province hopping maybe. One day, I could do country hopping in God’s will. I love travelling as always either far or just nearby. And it will be more meaningful if we travel and praise the Lord at the same time for Him to bless our every journey.
If there’s one mistake I did this year, that’s limiting my own self in achieving my goals and unlocking my potentials because I was too lazy and too afraid to step out of my comfort zone.