By Quay Evano
CALGARY – With the biggest turnout of mass-goers on day one of nine midnight masses in preparation for Christmas, the Simbang Gabi is alive in Calgary.
Kababayans braved the cold weather to celebrate a Christmas tradition, made complete with a singing choir and a festive atmosphere in the church.
“Sana nga mabuo ko dahil noong last na nag-simbang gabi sa Pilipinas, ay nabuo naming mag-anak, so kasama ko na ang husband ko sana mabuo naming,” said Gemma Santos Bulan.
Filipino-Canadian youths who have experienced Simbang Gabim both in the Philippines and Canadam are happy to see Filipinos introducing it to other nationalities, making it a more multi-cultural event in the city.
“I think it’s cool,” said James Nefulda. “People lose touch with their culture and it’s really great to see a lot of people kind of keep in touch with that and especially introducing it to their friends who aren’t Filipinos. I think that’s the one thing for me, the most exciting thing to me – to see people just be enthusiastic and not forget where they came from.”
“Hindi naming ine-expect ito na ganito ang mangyayari,” said Mar Aquino, an organizer for Simbang Gabi. “Ine-expect lang talaga naming mga 600 ganoon. Pero thank you kay Lord, siya ang nagdala lahat dito at napuno, punong-puno ang simbahan, for the first time ever na nangyari dito sa St. Albert the Great Parish. “
Priests say the Simbang Gabi proves how much Filipinos are devoted to God, the church, and to the Filipino culture.
“Para patunayan an gating paniniwala sa Diyos, lalo na kay Hesukristo,” said Father Rudy Badiola. “Ngayon pumunta ka sa mall, nawawala na ang image in Jesus Christ. Pati sa Christmas card, wala na. Tayo naman, wala ng imik. Ang ibig sabihin niyan, ibalik natin is Hesus sa puso natin ngayong pasko ng pagkabuhay. Iyan ang dahilan ng Misa de Aguinaldo.”
A special salu-salo was held after the mass with food contributed by the attendees.
Truly, it was a memorable Simbang Gabi to start the Christmas season in the city.