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By Andro Louis M. Rulona

Christmas is the most awaited time of the year. It is the time of gladness and rejoicing.
The world rejoices because of the coming of the messiah who cleanses the face of the earth from
sin by his suffering and rising from the dead. Here in the Philippines, we join the celebration
globally through our carols, decoration, and telling the story of the first Christmas and its
message. Furthermore, in the Philippines one of the traditions during this season is to attend the
nine (9) days of novena masses which is called “Simbang Gabi” - mass in the night or “Misa de
Galleo” – mass at dawn. Through the masses believers shows their reverence to God and thanks
him for the blessing they received throughout the year. I remember a Filipino Folk Catholicism
belief which is handed from generation to generation about the completion of the nine days –
“completing the nine days novena masses can grant anything you ask from God.” For me, I do
not really believe by completing the novena masses is the cause, but rather it is the faith of a
person matters.

In this time of the year, families gather for bonding and making joyful memories.
Whether going on a trip or swimming at the beach or staying in the house and helping each other
at the house chores. In this moment family members recollects their happy memories of the
previous year.

Like other Filipino families, our family has also a custom to complete the Misa de
Galleo, not in order to gain something, but rather to show our gratitude to God for the blessings
and gifts which he gives to our family throughout the year. Also, it is the way we celebrate to be
in union with the universal Church in preparing and waiting for the coming of the savior, the
messiah. I and my family goes to church during the 16th day to the 24th day of December for the
very special day of the church, I serve during the mass, while my family attends mass with the

During the daytime of December 24 and 31, I helped the parish through preparing the
sacred objects and practicing the altar server for the night mass. Last December 29 of last year, I
was tasked to organize a program for the Christmas party of the altar servers, I find it exciting
because I am the only seminarian left in the parish because the others attended a gathering
(SADIOSTA Gathering- a group of seminarians both diocesan and religious) dated December
28-29 in the island of Cabilao. I attended the gathering, but I left early in the morning because I
have another concern.

My Christmas vacation and semestral break is blessed by God because I have a bond with
my family and friends, I served God through the mass and helping in the parish. I am always
thankful to God for all the opportunities he gave me throughout the years.