Misa de Gallo in Pampanga

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Christmas in the Philippines

Misa De Gallo - Pampanga

A Christmas Lantern in the Christmas Capital of the Philippines

(1st Place winner to the Keso de Gallo photo contest sponsored by Eden Cheese)

The Philippines has been greatly influenced by Spanish traditions and Misa de Gallo is one of them.  Misa de Gallo is a Spanish phrase which means “Midnight mass.”  In Spain, Misa de Gallo pertains to a midnight mass starting around 12am on Christmas eve.

Here in the Philippines, we have a novena of a series of 9 dawn Masses (usually around 3am to 4:30 am) starting from December 16 up to the eve of Christmas, December 24.  Filipino farmers in the early days would want to attend Christmas masses but they could not leave their fields in the day.  With this, the priests held early dawn masses to these farmers and they were held before day break and thus the term “Simbang Gabi” or Midnight Mass.  Even until now, Filipino devotees attend these midnight masses as an expression of devotion to God.  It is also a common belief that if you complete attending the Simbang Gabi for 9 consecutive days, then you could make a wish.

Another custom related to the Misa de Gallo concept is a little feast everyday outside the church where some people sell native traditional Filipino foods such as puto bumbong (purple rice with brown sugar and grated coconut), tsokolate (hot choco) and bibingka (flour and egg cakes).


Misa de Gallo in Pampanga

Misa De Gallo - Pampanga

We attended the last mass of the series of 9 Simbang Gabi.  The priest held it in the “kapampangan” language though so I could not understand much.

San Guillermo Church

Misa De Gallo - Pampanga

The San Guillermo Church is located in Bacolor (former Philippine capital).  The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo buried half of the church.  The structure was still being used as a place of worship even then.  Tourists loved this place before the lahar tragedy.  After the incident, more tourists flock into this church where remaining features are preserved and maintained.


This church is also where “May Bukas Pa” (ABS-CBN primetime show), is currently taping its church scenes.


Keso de Gallo Photo Contest by Kraft Eden

I am trying to build my online photography portfolio on the domain focalcandy.com but it is still a work-in-progress.  I have been laying low on my photography lately and I was so happy have photo ops in this event.  Since I lack sleep these days, I would not have gone with the other bloggers in this event that made me wake up at 1am.  But when I knew it would be in Pampanga, I immediately said yes!  I am a travel-photography freak and I would not pass any travelling event in the whole world!  I was just so happy to use my humble Nikon D40 DSLR plus kit lens again.  I love taking pictures of towns with rich culture.

Kraft Eden conducted a photo contest in the most colorful place to spend Christmas.  We submitted 3 pictures each and the company representatives of Eden who were with us on the entire trip judged the photos.  Of of their main criteria is the story the picture portrays.

Without me having to explain any of the photos I submitted, I am happy that the judges were able to see my heart through the pictures that I have captured.  I am happy to share, two of my photos that won the contest.

Misa De Gallo - Pampanga

A different view of the San Guillermo church

(2nd Place winner to the Keso de Gallo photo contest sponsored by Eden Cheese)

I guess this church had millions of pictures taken by different people already but they haven’t seen the church by this angle.  The Christmas lights looked like stars.  The skies were beautifully colored as I used the natural light that the breaking dawn is giving me.  I did not use any polarizer (since it’s night) nor photoshopped any element of it (except the watermark).


Misa De Gallo - Pampanga

A Christmas Lantern in the Christmas Capital of the Philippines

(1st Place winner to the Keso de Gallo photo contest sponsored by Eden Cheese)

I guess this captured everything the trip tried to share.  So I must say, this picture says a lot.  The focus on the lantern and the hint of the blurred San Guillermo church suggests that this place is in Pampanga without even me having to caption it.  Pampanga is also known for its lantern festival held every December.  The lantern also signifies not only Christmas but Christmas specifically in the Philippines.  The lighted church in the picture is the symbol of Filipino’s Christmas tradition of the Simbang Gabi.

The lantern also symbolized the “star” that guided Mary and Joseph before.  A symbol of “guidance” and “light” in the time of darkness – where this place had been so dark before from the lahar tragedy, but it continued to stand in its place with the faith of the people.

Credits and Thanks

Many thanks to Geiser Maclang for inviting me to this wonderful journey, to Winston who told me to come and to Kraft Eden Cheese for making this historical trip possible.


More to come

Our journey did not end here.  Geiser Maclang and Kraft Eden Cheese brought us to the invite-only Bale Dutung (House of Wood) of Claude Tayag who graced us with traditional Kapampanga meal.  Another gastronomical article to follow soon.  Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek.


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  1. congrats for winning!
    btw, i learn a lot from ur post..
    the midnight mass is something i had never hear before..
    it must be fun attending the event at late night..
    merry christmas to you!!

  2. Congratulations, Hannah! Great work! Sayang, di ako umabot sa meet-up time. Had work to do kasi e. I was sad, really… 🙁 I miss attending misa de gallo – it’s been 5 years na rin.

  3. Thank you for featuring Pampanga. If you would like to know more of our province, please visit pampangadirectory.net

    Welcome to http://pampangadirectory.net/ In this portal, you can find Pampanga local news, province guides, business categories, sports media, society issues,buy and sell products, services, people, tourist destinations, personals and online community.

    Louie Sison

  4. Pingback: Hannah Villasis
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