Dec 14, 2018

Since the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation, it’s no secret that the Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo has been widely considered as the “official” start of the Christmas countdown.

Historical accounts said this was an influence of Spain, where the novena Masses used to be offered at the “darkness of dawn amid the blaze of many lighted candles” for those who had to work during the day. This tradition flourished greatly in the country as you’ll see Filipinos of all ages flock to churches at dawn (or at night for the anticipated Mass version) to listen to gospels about Mary’s journey as she awaits the birth of Jesus. The custom grew strong that it has started several Filipino practices and beliefs, like the buying of holiday delicacies sold in areas surrounding the church or the idea that if one completes the nine-day mass, his wish will be granted.

If you’re planning to attend or complete the nine-day series of Masses this year, we listed below a number of churches across cities in Metro Manila that may be accessible to you. Not only are these churches big, these also happen to be historical ones with astounding architecture.

Sta. Clara de Montefalco Pasig in Pasig City

This 187-feet church is widely regarded as the tallest church in the Philippines, surpassing the 170-feet church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran. It stands on 11,230 square meters of land.

The church, designed by architect Noli Bernardo who also designed the St. Peter’s Parish in Quezon City, has a majestic dome patterned after the one in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Rome. Its two-floor hall can seat up to 2,500 people.

Address: C. Raymundo Ave., Barangay Caniogan, Pasig City
Mass schedule:
7:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

The Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in Quezon City

The first thing one will notice about this church is its unique architecture. It is actually recognized as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. Five National Artists actually collaborated in erecting this parish. Architect Leandro Locsin led the design while artists Vicente Manansala, Ang Kiukok, Napoleon Abueva, and Arturo Luz graced its interiors with their paintings.

Address: Apacible St., Diliman, Quezon City
Mass schedule:
8:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00 a.m.  – Misa de Gallo

Saint John the Baptist Parish (Pinaglabanan Church) in San Juan City

This church was established on July 15, 1894, two years before the Battle of San Juan del Monte was held, which is considered the “first real battle” of the Philippine Revolution against Spain. It was declared a historical landmark by the San Juan Municipal Council in 1989.

Address: Pinaglabanan, San Juan City
Mass schedule:
9:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

San Sebastian Church in the City of Manila

This church is widely renowned for its all-steel architecture. But what most people don’t know is that the steel structure is the fifth iteration of the church dedicated to St. Sebastian. The first one was burned down in 1651 during the Chinese-Filipino rebellion while the second, third, and fourth edifices were destroyed by fire and earthquakes. This is why in the late 1880s, its then church parish priest proposed to Spanish architect Genaro Palacios a plan to build the fifth version of the church with steel.

Address: Pasaje del Carmen St., Quiapo, Manila
Mass schedule:
4:30 am – Misa de Gallo

San Felipe Neri Parish in Mandaluyong City

The first thing you’ll notice about this church is its striking pyramid-shaped red-tile roofs that atop a twin bell tower, which is a common characteristic of the Spanish Revival architecture.

Address: Boni Ave. corner Rev. G. Aglipay St., Mandaluyong City
Mass schedule:
7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00 a.m., 5:30 p.m. – Misa de Gallo

Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish in Marikina City

Augustinians and Jesuits used to fight over this church and the ecclesiastical control of the area around this church in Marikina during the Spanish occupation before being declared an independent parish in 1690. When the second world war commenced, the church was one of the structures that were totally destroyed. It was only restored in 1957 with the help of many religious and civic church organizations.

Address: V. Gomez St., Marikina City
Mass schedule:
9:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church in Makati City

The church was built in adjacent to a monastery, where a certain Fray Simon Dantes lived. It was him who led the establishment of this church, which was initially made with lime and stone that came right from the then mountains of Guadalupe.

It’s actually known as a popular wedding venue in the metro. The church has unique exterior with its mixture of different architecture styles, which is probably caused by the number of renovations it’s faced over the years.

Address: 7440 Bernardino Street, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City
Mass schedule:
9:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:30 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

St. Michael the Archangel in Taguig City

This church is one of the most sought-after locations in Bonifacio Global City not only because it’s newly built structure but also because many witnessed how it evolved. It used to be a makeshift church situated at a parking lot, which drew a lot of attention from the local community. This resulted in a concerted effort to rebuild it on the other side of the road (its old location is now its parking lot), with its many devotees donating in droves.

Address: 10th Ave. cor. 39th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Mass schedule:
7:00 p.m., 8:15 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00  a.m., 5:15 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish & Diocesan Shrine in Muntinlupa City

The community was already been celebrating mass in different subdivisions of Tunasan 12 years before the actual church had been erected. Even though there was already an existing parish and an installed parish priest at that time, the community didn’t have enough money to build a church. That is until Oct. 31, 1998 when His Eminance Jaime Cardinal Sin inaugurated this shrine.

Address: 9198 National Rd., Tunasan, Muntinlupa City
Mass schedule:
8:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

Baclaran Church in Paranaque City

Formally called as the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, this Redemptorist Church is one of the largest Marian churches in the Philippines and one of the few churches that is open for 24 hours. It is often packed every Wednesday, which has long been considered by devotees as “Baclaran Day.”

However, this isn’t actually the location where the Perpetual Help novena Masses was first introduced in the country. What most people doesn’t know is that the devotion originated at the Redemptorist Church of St. Clement in Iloilo City. It was only brought to Baclaran after the parish officials found out that the number of Perpetual Help devotees had been growing.

Address: Redemptorist Road, Baclaran, Parañaque City
Mass schedule:
8:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass
4:30 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

Shrine of Therese of the Child Jesus in Pasay City

This striking orange- and indigo-hued church actually started in 1947 as a makeshift chapel in the Villamor Air Base (then known as Nichols Air Base). It has a distinct architectural design characterized by a dome and a column-less interior. The rounded lines at the exterior continues inside, up to the altar where 16 stained glass windows depicting the different popes of the Roman Catholic Church can be found.

Address: 20 Newport Blvd., Pasay City
Mass schedule:
7:30 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass 
4:00 a.m., 5:15 a.m. – Misa de Gallo

St. Joseph Parish Church (Bamboo Organ) in Las Piñas City

This church houses the 200-year-old bamboo organ, a National Cultural Treasure of the Philippines, which is known as the largest bamboo pipe organ in the world. It is made of over 900 bamboos and 129 metal pipes which gives it its distinct whistling tune.

Address: 20 Newport Blvd., Pasay City
Mass schedule:
8:00 p.m. – anticipated evening Mass 
4:30 a.m., 5:15 a.m. – Misa de Gallo


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TAGS: church city guide conservation heritage Historical churches Metro Manila Preservation simbang gabi