5 Churches to Visit for Simbang Gabi this Christmas

A Christmas experience in the Philippines is not complete without attending the “Simbang Gabi” or Misa de Gallo – night or dawn masses – at the neighborhood church or a local church where one grew up, enjoying the chilly air, and sampling delicacies such as the puto bumbong and bibingka.

The Simbang Gabi, a series of masses which run for 9 days, is held between December 16 to 24 as preparation for the grand celebration of St. Mary’s birth to Jesus Christ on December 25. The traditional masses are a carryover from three centuries of Spanish colonization.

Read Related Story: Simbang Gabi opens the Philippine holiday season

Amidst the holiday rush to decorate homes, buy presents, partying, and vacations GoodNewsPilipinas presents these churches that bring the ultimate good news of salvation.


1. St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church (Kawit, Cavite)

St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church in historical Kawit, Cavite is one of the oldest standing centuries-old churches in the Philippines with a unique Christmastime tradition every December 24th – the MAYTINIS. The Maytinis is a parade of floats bearing local personalities and sometimes national celebrities garbed in biblical-times-attire, depicting characters from the bible and their role in the story of salvation and Jesus Christ. The Panunuluyan leads the Maytinis parade. The event has drawn both tourists and returning locals to the annual parish town event.

The diocesan church ushered the Advent Season on December 2 with the opening of the lights that dress up the church building. Evening and dawn masses are sure to feel celebratory with the décor themed: “Paskong Pilipino sa Kawit mula Noon hanggang sa Ngayon.”

St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church along Tirona Highway in Kawit schedule:
December 16-24 Misa de Gallo at 4:30 AM
December 15-23 Simbang Gabi anticipated masses 8:00 PM at the Aguinaldo Park fronting the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine
Midnight Mass follows after the Maytinis Parade on December 24.

2. Santo Niño Church de Cebu

The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu or Minor Basilica of the Holy Child is the oldest church in the country where the Sto. Nino image brought by the Legaspi-Urdaneta Spanish expedition remains enshrined to this day. The church has always been the Sanctuary of the Sto. Niño, and is under the custody of the Augustinians.

On December 2, the facade and inner garden of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño was lighted with Christmas lights signalling the start of the church’s Season of Advent.

The Minor Basilica of the Holy Child at the corner of Osmeña Boulevard and P. Burgos Street in Cebu holds Simbang Gabi at 4:30 AM.

3. Manila Cathedral (Intramuros)

More formally known as the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, the church is the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and is considered as the “Mother of all Churches and Cathedrals in the Philippines.”

The Manila Cathedral is located inside the historic Walled City of Intramuros, Manila.

The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica in Intramuros holds Misa de Gallo at 4:30 AM and Simbang Gabi anticipated night masses at 8:00 PM.

4. Baclaran Church (Redemptorist)

Baclaran Church is more formally known as the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, where pilgrims and the devout regularly go for novena and masses. The shrine is also popularly known to respond not only to spiritual needs but also to the various material and physical needs of the devotees, especially the poor and marginalized. The devotees themselves support the various social services and programs generously as they become more aware about the social dimension of their devotion and the sacraments.

The Baclaran Church at Redemptorist Road in Parañaque City holds Simbang Gabi on the following schedules:

Night masses starting December 15 at 8:00 PM except Dec. 17 & 20 with masses at 8:15 PM

Dawn masses starting December 16 at 4:30 AM

Harana at Panunuluyan on December 24 at 7:00 PM

Midnight Mass on December 24 at 9:00 PM

5. Quiapo Church (Quezon Blvd)

The Quiapo Church is more formally known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. It is a center for pilgrimage of Filipinos paying respects to the 17th century life-sized image of the Black Nazarene.

Quiapo Church at Plaza Miranda along Quezon Boulevard in Manila holds Misa de Gallo dawn masses at 4:00 AM and 5:00 AM. Simbang Gabi night masses begin on December 15 at 9:00 PM. On December 24 there will be a Christmas Eve Community Mass with Panunuluyan at 8:00 PM. Christmas Midnight Mass is at 10:00 PM.

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.