Monday, December 14, 2009

"Simbang Gabi"

I should apologize for having gone away a long while...things have been too tough for me at work... i had to meet a lot of "delivery dates" (this is what i call "deadlines")and what a great move i did! i've written 5 articles in 2 weeks and words just flooded my brain. i got so overwhelmed , it was just too much, and gently...i had to take care of my Self...spent time in blissful solitude...allowing peace and tranquility to set in,

Tonight begins a wonderful Christmas tradition in the Philippines! It's called "Simbang Gabi". It literally translates 'Night Mass'. This traces itself to 400 years of Spanish colonization in the Phil. when Christianity found a home in these islands. It was originally the Catholic Holy Mass celebrated at dawn, around 3 or 4am when farmers would be rising early to celebrate the Eucharist first before working in the fields. Today, it is still celebrated at dawn in some churches, but some have introduced changes in time, and hence, the anticipated masses on the night before. It runs for nine days, and so, it is sometimes called the Christmas Novena Masses. It ends on the eve of Dec 25, that's 12 midnight of Dec. 24...

i remember when i was a little girl, i loved "simbang gabi" (oh don't ever think i was that pious little Catholic bred girl who would love praying for hours and hours!). what i really loved then (and until now...) were the goodies sold outside the church! there were all kinds of sweet stuff that satisfied my sweet tooth and craving tummy...there was "Bibingka", a kind of rice cake cooked in an improvised oven made of a shallow clay pan filled with burning charcoal, the cake batter in the middle and hot coals on top of the batter (i hope you can imagine the idea of the batter being "baked" with both sources of heat on top and at the bottom. if not, below is a photo of a woman cooking bibingka) that's how ingenious Filipinos can be-our very own "bibingka oven". Another winner is "Puto Bumbong" that is glutinous rice with purple yams, cooked by steaming an improvised steaming set-up of tins, bamboo and charcoal. both bibingka and puto bumbong go well with fresh grated coconut! They can be very starchy though, so, sugar level will surely rise!

This is how "bibingka" is "baked"...(it is typical to sell bibingka also in front of houses especially during "simbang gabi" hours, and throughout the Christmas season, catering to customers who walk to church.) Now, here's a photo of "bibingka" which can also be enriched with white cottage cheese, butter and slices of salted eggs (watch that cholesterol!). See that "snow" on top? That's the grated fresh coconut...

It's the third week of Advent...we anticipate Christ's coming...we continue to hope!
(I'll share more traditions next blog...see you all!)

go gently through life...


  1. We have nothing like that over here, neither the masses nor the candy :-)
    But I loved to go to church every first of advent. Lots of singing and less talking by the priest :-) I still love going then and even if I belong to another church nowdays (Swedish Missionchurch) I still rather go to the Church of Sweden that day :-)
    Have a great day now!

  2. thanks Christer!

    Christmas festivities should never ever be drowned by the externals, by the way.

    you too have a great day!

    smiles and warmth from these isles...