A Nativity scene and a homegrown Santa Claus were among the sights that greeted more than 7,000 church goers who attended the first of the nine-day dawn Misa de Gallo Masses held at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday.
First to greet the faithful were the “Three Kings” of Barangay Tinago, figurines made of indigenous materials that were mounted on large wooden camels.
The camels are placed on wheeled platforms and paraded outside the cathedral.
They complemented the nativity scene performed by the San Diego Dance Troupe, who essayed a short play of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem to kick start the Mass at the Cathedral celebrated by Msgr. Robert Alesna.
In another area, Bayani Deja appeared as Santa Claus and rode in a LED-lighted horse-drawn carriage locally known as tartanilla.
He wore a red silk long sleeved suit and long pants trimmed with white wool.
He had his eyebrows painted white and tufts of white yarn attached to his chin for a beard that hung down his chest.
Deja, who represented the Cebu People’s Cooperative, brought bags of candies and other sweet goodies for children.
“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,” Deja said.
Cebu City police said the Misa de Gallo crowd occupied even part of the streets outside for yesterday’s opening Mass.
Two wide screens were provided for those outside the church, most of whom brought their own chairs.
“I already know that there will be a lot of people, so I decided to bring my own chair. This has been the case for so many years now,” said Sandra Luchavez.
Luchavez admits attending Misa de Gallo in the belief that her wishes will be granted when she completes all the dawn masses.
“I can’t tell you what I wish for this year, but based on experience, it is effective,” she laughed.
His Eminence Cebu Archbishop Emeritus 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 is nothing wrong with believing that God will grant the wishes of those who completed the nine-day Masses.
But Vidal said this belief should be coupled with strong faith and constant prayers.
“Misa de Gallo is the proximate preparation for Christmas, nine days. The church gave 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.
Vidal said not a few Cebuanos are pre-occupied with what they dress and what they have and how many parties they attend instead of focusing on spiritual matters that endure beyond the Christmas season.
Vidal said spiritual values are “less expensive, but beneficial and unquantifiable” compared to material possessions.
“Your Christmas will be incomplete if you only focus on the material aspect,” the prelate said.
He instead commend those people who neglect their duties in order to serve the Church.
“Some people say lengthy prayers, when all God wants from them is the moment of silence,” the cardinal said. /Carine M. Asutilla, Correspondent with Correspondent Tweeny M. Malinao