La Pinoys celebrate Simbang Gabi, pray for typhoon victims

By Yvee Tadeo Guevarra

Dec. 16, 2013

LOS ANGELES – Last weekend marked the third Sunday of Advent for the Catholic Church. For Filipinos it was the start of the Simbang Gabi tradition.

Over 3,000 Filipino Catholics gathered together for the 11th year at the Cathedral of the Angels to start the nine-day novena before Christmas.

Officials from the Philippine consulate of Los Angeles also attended the event.

“Simbang Gabi is also a time for reflection and forgiveness for past mistakes, and hope and prayers for myself, my family and friends, for the country and the Philippines,” Armand Claren of La Mirada, California said.

This unique Filipino Catholic tradition traces its roots to Mexico and dates back over 500 years.

“This is a Philippine tradition that we should pass on to our children here in America,” Vergie Infante of Glendale, Calif. said.

Part of this yearly tradition is the much-awaited parade of parols or Filipino Christmas lanterns before the mass.

Archbishop Jose Gomez presided over the liturgy, urging parishioners to spread the faith—especially during the holiday season.

“We have to do one more step up, to be more radical on how we evangelize people,” Deacon Willy Arban said. “So many people today have lost faith in the Lord.”

The archbishop also called for everyone to continue to pray of all the typhoon victims in the Philippines.

“We all hope and pray that you all will be okay,” Pollyana Ignacio said.

“I’ll just pray for the soul of the relatives of my husband in Tacloban that all passed away,” Betty Grapon said. “It really hurt and I pray for their souls.”

Gigi Boirgheise concluded, “We Filipinos will always find hope when we help one another, even for those who live abroad.”

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