It’s such a treat to sleep in these days with the cool breeze of December mornings coming through the walls of our rooms. But many Filipinos would surely brave the cold temperature to attend a mass at four in the morning once the Simbang Gabi season begins.
Simbang Gabi is one of the favorite Filipino Christmas traditions which starts on the 16th of December and ends on the 24th of December–the eve of Christmas day. Many locals believe that if you complete the nine dawn masses, your prayers and wishes will be granted. But others troop to churches to bond with their families and friends and enjoy freshly cooked bibingka or puto bumbong after hearing the mass.
If you’re in Manila, you’re in luck because of the abundance of churches, accessible by the LRT-1 line, you can visit for Simbang Gabi. Check out the top five picks of ikotMNL:
1. Baclaran Church
(Photo from Baclaranchurch.org)
The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, more famously known as the Baclaran Church, is one of the oldest, historical, and go-to church for Simbang Gabi in southern Manila. The vast and towering cathedral is perfect for Christmas feels and vibes, and is easily accessed through the LRT-1 Baclaran station.
2. Malate Church
Malate Church (Photo from Malatechurch.org)
The beautiful stone-wrought Malate Church, also known as the Our Lady of Remedies Parish, is hard to miss—it’s still one of the most beautiful structures Malate. Just take the LRT-1 Quirino station for a quick ride to the church.
3. San Sebastian Church
(Photo by Judgefloro on Wikimedia Commons)
Ever wanted to feel like you were going to Christmas mass somewhere in Europe? Look no further than the Basilica Menor de San Sebastian, also known as the San Sebastian Church. The historic and only all-steel church in the Philippines isn’t far from the LRT-1 United Nations station. It is also one of the most beautiful shrines you can visit in Manila, even after the Simbang Gabi season.
4. San Agustin Church
(Photo by bigberto on Wikimedia Commons)
Manila is not short on glorious churches, and two of them can be found inside our famous Walled City. Head to Intramuros via the LRT-1 Central Terminal and go to the San Agustin Church, one of the oldest and most popular parishes inside the historic city.
5. Binondo Church
(Photo by Patrick Roque on Wikimedia Commons)
Manila’s busiest shopping district is also home to another glorious minor basilica, the Binondo Church. For religious history buffs, it’s an important place for Filipino Christianity because its serves as the home parish of Filipino saint Lorenzo Ruiz. Get down at the LRT-1 Carriedo station and ride a tricycle going to Binondo to reach this Manila landmark.
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