Christianity has been the major religion in the Philippines since the beginning of the Spanish colonial period in 1565 and traditionally Filipinos are happily celebrating Christmas every December.
On the morning of 16th of December, every year, Philippine Catholic Churches’ bells ring, signalling the beginning of “Simbang Gabi” or evening/early morning mass and the nine-morning countdown to Christmas day.
Manila Livewire gives you eleven of the most beautiful, long-standing churches in the Philippines people take time to visit for the “Simbang Gabi” (literally means night worship)
1. Quiapo Church
Quiapo church is so popular because it houses the famous black Nazarene.
When it comes to place of worship, more specifically in the Metro, it is Quiapo Church most people are acquainted with. They even considered Friday as “Quiapo day.”
2. Baclaran Church
Known for it as a place of a famous Mother of Perpetual Help. It is said to be the best-attended Christian place of worship in Asia. Up to a 100,000 devotees visit the church each day, and this number includes famous politicians, celebrities, and other well-known individuals. The facility overflows on Ash Wednesday, creating the famous ‘Baclaran Phenomenon.
3. Manila Cathedral Church
The oldest church in Manila and the sixth structure to rise on the walls of Intramuros. Considered to be the Mother of all Churches and Cathedrals in the Philippines and a preferred site for church weddings because of its historic architecture
4. Obando Church (San Pascual De Baylon)
Obando Church is mostly famous for its three-day Obando Fertility Rites, but on a Christmas season, it also plays an important role, since it does not only honour patron saints but Virgin Mary as well, particularly Our Lady of Salambao.
5. Kamay ni Hesus (“Hand Of Jesus”)
It is a shrine and a chapel, It reflects popularity to the people from north to south so we included this because it tags as a healing place for the worshipers . Kamay ni Hesus Shrine is a healing center built under the initiative of Father Joseph “Joey” Ayala Faller, a gifted and well-known healing priest. This Shrine may be known for the healing masses but it has also become a popular tourist and field trip destination nowadays.
6. Antipolo church
It has a continuous following among Filipinos Catholics since the Spanish era. ” The Marian image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or the Virgin of Antipolo”, which was brought in from Mexico in 1626, and enshrined in this church. It prides itself as the “Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines.
7. Barasoain Church
Built in 1630, (also known as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish) is located in the historical town of Malolos, Bulacan. It was founded by the Augustinian Missionaries in 1859 and served as the session hall of Malolos Congress, the first congress in the Philippines held in September 15, 1898 under the presidency of Pedro Paterno.
8. Baguio Cathedral
It is a Catholic Church located in Baguio City, Philippines. It is also known as Our Lady of Atonement which is popularly to catholic worshipers. This church is unique because of its twin spires structure, rose colored exterior and traditional stained glass. It is one of the main attractions in Baguio City. During World War 11, the church served as the evacuation center for the Japanese.
9. Lipa City Cathedral
This church is one of the 49 parishes in Lipa City. The city is known as Little Rome of the Philippines. Lipeños or Lipa people are known for being religious approx 1,668,480 Catholics in the city. Expect a huge crowd on Christmas holidays specially every “Simbang Gabi” or night worships.
It is located in Sucat Muntinlupa Philippines, The word, posada, means an inn and for the humble catholic people the re-enactment of the Holy Family’s quest for lodgings is a ritual of deep religious significance.
The posadas, which start on the sixtenth of December and end on Christmas Eve, take place at different houses each night. Since Christmas.
11. Manaoag Church
Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan would be a great place for Simbang Gabi. It is better to spend Simbang Gabi with the Virgin Mary herself? Especially for a Marian devotee, The shrine of the patroness of the sick, helpless and the needy has been one of the most visited Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines because of its said miraculous powers.