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Continuing tradition

By: Madrileña de la Cerna December 23,2017 - 08:47 PM


As a child it was always a big struggle to wake up early for the Misa de Gallo. But I always went to sleep during the Misa de Gallo and this was because of the lengthy homily of the priest. I remember waking up only when “Pastores a Belen” was sang by the church choir and this was at the end of the Mass. There was a time when I joined a group of Theresian alumnae who sang during the midnight Mass at the chapel of St. Theresa’s College, and it was fun during the rehearsals but would be nervous waiting for our accompanist who always arrived at exactly twelve midnight.

When I started my twice a week dialysis in 2010, I took very seriously attending the Misa de Gallo not only for the spiritual value but also for its cultural value. I made a promise to have a perfect attendance of the Misa de Gallo every year. In the first three years I was able to achieve this, but when my schedule of dialysis which is the first shift in the morning was moved earlier (from six to five-thirty in the morning), I could only attend seven out of the nine days. I have been attending the Misa de Gallo at the Redemptorist Church which I consider my home church because of its atmosphere (clean and orderly surroundings, with fresh flowers and plants adorning the main altar, beautiful Christmas decoration) that makes people behave and pray, brief and concise homilies that make the churchgoers reflect, readers are articulate, distribution of Holy Communion is very orderly despite the great bulk of communicants, and very good choirs which help churchgoers reflect on the Christmas season.

It is heartwarming to see families troop to the church bringing with them big umbrellas and their small chairs to be assured of comfortable seats inside the church which is always filled with churchgoers. More heartwarming is another tradition which is the kissing of the hand of the priest after the Mass which we call amen or more popularly called “bless.” It is nice to watch children and babies carried by mothers or fathers rushing to kiss the hand of the priest as he makes his exit to the door of the church. Even teenagers and some adults kiss the hand of the priest.

An added feature of the Misa de Gallo is the pamainit where everyone could feast on the local delicacies, the famous puto (tapol or purple and white) and sikwate, budbod or suman of various kinds, bibingka and the torta at affordable prices. Very popular recently is the pospas or the lugaw. Though the pamainit is a fundraising activity for the scholarship program of the Redemptorist parish, the pamainit draws people together as some socialize and share the tables with people not necessarily their relatives and friends which is actually the purpose. The pamainit is one of the enduring Filipino traditions which originally was done outside the church and the food was given free. Some continue eating while going home and bring home something for those who did not attend the Misa de Gallo.

The pamainit is a prelude to the series of feasting that will happen during the holiday season. Filipinos love to eat and they are always eating whenever they have to come together whether for a serious matter or just a casual chat. Just like the meaning of pamainit which is to warm up, there is a warming up of social relations during the pamainit where people of different walks of life squeeze through the crowded line to buy food and sit with anyone at the table for those who prefer to dine in.

At the Misa de Gallo, there is a very active interaction as well as participation of the churchgoers and the Mass presider, and this interaction continues as they go to the pamainit stalls. The Misa de Gallo and the pamainit are a powerful tandem in the preservation of our cultural heritage. The Misa de Gallo is a beautiful Filipino tradition that is why I love to attend it faithfully. The experience is fulfilling what with a beautiful setting of an altar beautifully adorned with flowers or plants, a huge belen, Christmas decorations that bedeck the arches of the church, excellent choirs that vary every day, and the huge crowds of churchgoers who participate actively (I haven’t seen anyone sleep). Of course, the pamainit is part of it. Although the puto and sikwate are available every day, there is a difference when the puto, budbod, sikwate, pospas are shared with people you don’t know even for a brief moment.

Let us celebrate Christmas this time ever conscious of our traditions which are fast disappearing. May you all have a truly blessed Christmas!

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TAGS: chapel, child, remember, took, tradition, very

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