CCP Simbang Gabi Goes Digital; To Stream Dawn Masses From the Regions and… From Rome!

IN the last 15 years, it has been a tradition at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to hold Simbang Gabi when the Christmas season comes.  For the Center, holding the novena (nine) masses is no ordinary program; but, a special event that needs careful and meticulous planning.

In partnership with the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay City and several business establishments around the CCP Complex, the dawn masses held at the CCP Main Ramp gathers a daily audience averaging close to a thousand mass-goers, while the Misa de Aguinaldo (Christmas Eve Mass) at the Main Theater draws a full-theatre capacity, which spills over to the Main Theater Lobby.

The CCP Christmas Eve Mass is traditionally led by performances from the resident companies such as Tanghalang Pilipino Actors’ Company, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and participation of various performers including a 100-Voice Chorale, among others with no less than the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in full force.

While this year has been shrouded with concerns over safety and fears of contracting the Covid-19 virus, which has upended many traditions that draw large gatherings including holding dawn masses, nothing should shake the fundamental pillar of the Catholic faithful and hinder the Filipino traditions.

In this trying time, the CCP has taken a different course to conform to the emerging normal.  Like its other programs, the CCP Simbang Gabi 2020 migrates to the digital platform.

Through the online platform, the CCP seizes the opportunity to ambitiously celebrate Simbang Gabi across the archipelago, and lift up the spirits of a number of communities devastated by the recent typhoons.  It also allows us to reach out to Filipinos and other Catholics from around the world through this time-honoured tradition.

The virtual Simbang Gabi will start on December 15 to 23, 9pm (anticipated masses), and December 16 to 24, 5am (dawn masses), and will be streamed via the official CCP Facebook page and YouTube Channel. It will also be broadcasted on CNN Philippines Channel.

Bringing the rituals of life from the regions, the Center partners with various parishes all over the country – Our Lady of Sorrows in Pasay City; St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Loboc, Bohol;  Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist) Church in San Miguel, Iligan City; Holy Cross Parish (Margot) in Sapang Bato, Pampanga; Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Jaro, Iloilo City; San Pedro Cathedral (also known as the Davao Cathedral) in Davao City, Davao; Our Lady of Piat Basilica in Piat, Cagayan; Sto. Niño de Tacloban Parish in Tacloban City; and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Pueblo de Oro, Cagayan de Oro City.

On December 24, 9pm, the Misa de Aguinaldo will be celebrated from St. Gregory the Great Cathedral Parish (also known as the Albay Cathedral) in Legazpi City with rector/pastor Rev. Msgr. Noe Thomas.

The CCP Simbang Gabi will culminate with a special Christmas Day Mass (December 25, 10am) with Cardinal Luis Tagle celebrating all the way from Rome, Italy.

As a pre-mass event, there will be a 10 to 15-minute video clip of the past Simbang Gabi activities (i.e. performances of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and other groups, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Tanghalang Pilipino, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, among others).

“In the times of crises and pandemics, art and spirituality help us rise from despair; and, supported by the Filipino’s close ties to familial bonds, we get to form psychic sanctuaries… much needed and most timely, in this season,” said CCP Production and Exhibition Department head Ariel Yonzon.

As an expression of gratitude, the CCP will also arrange for small token offerings to the parish communities which have been instrumental in bringing the message of hope and love this holiday season in spite of their current limitations and difficulties.

Follow the official CCP Facebook and social media accounts to get the latest update on the CCP Simbang Gabi Pasko.  Visit www.culturalcenter.gov.ph to know more about the CCP and its programs.  Don’t forget to share your CCP Simbang Gabi experience; use the hashtags #CCPSIMBANGGABI2020 #CCPSIMBANGGABI

IN MAIN PHOTO: A church mockup captured by ClariSays at Meralco’s Liwanag Park in 2019

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