by Correspondent Carine Asutilla
An LED-lighted horse-drawn carriage welcomed thousands of church goers who attended the first day of the annual Misa de Gallo at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral this morning.
Images of the Three Kings, the Holy Family, and Santa Claus near the cathedral added color to the 9-day tradition.
Bayani Deja was clad in red silk long sleeves, long pants trimmed with white wool and had his eyebrows painted white with tufts of white yarn stuck on his chin to resemble a white beard as he portrayed Santa Clause outside the church.
Deja brought bags of candies and other sweet goodies for the children. He represented the Cebu People’s Cooperative in their nine-day advocacy to spread the spirit of Christmas.
“This is just a simple act of celebrating Christmas. This is the Cooperatives way of giving back the blessings. This maybe a simple way but the joy we bring through having a Santa is priceless. We will be in different churches every Misa de Gallo until the ninth day,” Deja said.
Also present were the “Three Kings” of Barangay Tinago, a tradition the barangay started since 1960. Large camels with the “Three Kings” on it were paraded and parked outside the Cathedral.
The “Three Kings” models made of indigenous materials were mounted on the wooden camels, which are then placed on wheeled platforms that can be easily dragged for the procession.
Members of the San Diego Dance Troupe enacted the Nativity Scene complete with shepherds. A short play of their journey to Bethlehem prompted the start of the mass at the Cathedral celebrated by Msgr. Robert Alesna.
Cebu City Police estimated more than 7,000 church-goers at the Cathedral on the first day of Misa de Gallo. The crowd occupied even part of the streets outside. Two widescreens were provided for those who were just outside the church.
Most of the church-goers brought their own chairs. His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who celebrated a separate mass at the compound of Cebu Catholic Television Network (CCTN) reminded the public of the true meaning of celebrating the nine dawn masses.
He said there’s nothing wrong with the common belief that wishes can come true when the 9-day Misa de Gallo is completed. Vidal said what’s important is to reinforce that belief with strong faith and constant prayers.
“Misa de Gallo is the proximate preparation for Christmas, nine days. The church has given us these novena days to prepare at once. We are not only there to enjoy our puto bongbong, but it is precisely the human heart, the will, which are purified so we can receive God this Christmas,” the Cardinal said.
Cardinal Vidal did not directly mention the Reproductive Health Bill in his homily but he talked about prioritizing God’s will into making the laws of men in general.
“Any law coming from the government comes from the human will. But if it is not respective of the will of God, it might lead us to dictatorship. Because it is not God who will be with us, it’s only man. You know, the tendency of man is to impose his own will to others. So the consequence as we have learned from history, the church has been living for more than 2000 years, we have experienced that when God is absent in making laws, tapos (everything ends),” the Cardinal said.
The Cardinal is still hoping that despite the passage of the bill to its second reading, it will not be approved to become a law. “We are praying but anything can happen,” the Cardinal said./ Correspondent Carine Asutilla