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We may yet have our revered ‘Simbang Gabi’

It is still two months away from the country’s most revered religious tradition of the “Simbang Gabi” but both religious and government leaders are already planning for it.

We have cancelled so many of our traditional practices because of COVID-19 since March, among them the Visita Iglesia during Holy Week, the many fiestas and and Santacruzans in May, and the Undas visits to cemeteries this month and November. Even the Traslacion of the Black Nazarene in January has been cancelled because of the danger posed by huge throngs that join it.

But Pasko is a cut above all other traditions in our country. We even start hearing Filipino Christmas carols in September. Holiday decorations are beginning to appear in many city streets. Stores are beginning to display Christmas lights, both the traditional parol and the newer electronic displays.

At the center of the Filipino Christmas is Simbang Gabi which Filipino communities around the world have brought with them, notably in the United States, in the Middle East, and right in Rome, Italy, the center of global Catholicism.

Last year, Pope Francis himself celebrated Simbang Gabi in Saint Peter’s Basilica where he had a special message for the Filipinos. “You, dear brothers and sisters who have left your land in search of a better future have a special mission. Your faith should be leaven in the parish communities to which you belong,” he said.

In many parts of the world, there has been a resurgence of COVID cases, notably in the United States and in France, Britain, and Italy. Fortunately for us in the Philippines, our cases are going down. We owe this to the seven months of lockdown restrictions in the country and our people’s following the “Mask. Hugas. Iwas.” campaign.

If this trend continues, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will be able to lift most of the ongoing restrictions, so that by December 16, we will have the Simbang Gabi.


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