I woke up at 3:30 in the morning at the sound of the Band playing Christmas songs going around the camp in preparation for the Misa de Gallo. Literally, it meant to wake the parishioners for the mass at 4:30 a.m.
Misa del Gallo or Missa do Galo (literally rooster‘s mass) are the names given in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, to the mass celebrated at midnight (or a bit before) on Christmas Eve. It is also known as “Misa de los Pastores” (Shepherd’s Mass in Spanish). Pope Sixtus III (2th century AD), introduced the custom of celebrating Christmas in a night vigil to Rome. At mid day “just after the cockcrow”, ad praesepium (before the crib), in a small oratory located behind the high altar of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The discrepancy with today’s time for the cockcrow is due to the fact that ancient Romans set the cockcrow at the start of the day, i.e. midnight. Some television channels broadcast the Pope conducting the midnight mass in Rome. In Spanish-speaking countries the custom is still upheld, specially in Latin America. In Venezuela it is also known as “Misa de Aguinaldo”, referring to the traditional Christmas music known by that name. Other regions, such as the Philippines, the prayer is done early in the morning on Christmas Eve, and it is the last day of a nine-day ritual known as Simbang Gabi. Completing the nine days culminating with the Misa de Gallo is said to make a wish come true, and many Filipinos believe this centuries-old promise to this day. One of the customs related to the Philippine Misa de Gallo is the selling of traditional Philippine food, such as puto bumbong (a purple colored rice pastry, seasoned with grated–coconut and brown sugar), tsokolate (a hot chocolate drink), bibingka (flour and egg cakes cooked on top and under), and salabat, or ginger tea, which are sold by vendors to the faithful outside churches and the nearest streets to the church (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misa_de_Gallo).
We had our breakfast or morning snacks of “kakanin”, rice cakes, suman, pandesal and coffee and tablea/chocolate drinks right after the mass in front of the church inside the Multipurpose Building which now serves as canteen. Morning snacks since we usually eat rice around 8:00 a.m. even if we already ate before 6:00 a.m. After eating I changed into athletic wear and walk around the camp. I was delighted to see the fog so low and the waters of the pond with smoke like emissions on top of the water.
Walking a few steps, I gazed at the birds twittering on my favorite trees with new leaves, it was only days before that there was no leaves and only buds on tip which I thought the tree is dying. the blackbirds are hopping from one branch to another.
Walking further, I caught sight of this “Maria Kapra” a fantail bird coquettishly showing its fan like tail while perched in electric lines. I was bewitched although it looks like a speck in the photo since I was using a mobile phone.
Continuing the morning walk, I saw the lotus in the pond and was told the stalks of this flower can be cooked and eaten. Looking closely, I saw the two frogs in a striking pose, one beneath the other and here it is, the beautiful lotus and frogs.
The image was so captivating which made me smile and walk on, looking up this is what I saw, the delicious juice of young coconut. It is still up there but I could almost taste the “buko” juice in my mind.
It is with utter joy that I continue my walk to my office to partake of the real breakfast. What is real breakfast? rice, eggs, sardines, fried dried squid, hotdog, ham and another round of coffee. Good morning and let us practice humility as the essence of the gospel today.