Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Musing at 12:39 AM, 19 December 2010

And where else did I get the inspiration to write this piece?

You bet. It’s on loo again. (This got me into thinking. Could it be that my muse loves to stay in the toilet. Hmmm...)

Apologies for the "l" world. But this blog entry is more of a reflection on my interaction, dialogue and experience with friends, colleagues and strangers and the lessons in-between.

  1. We are not lucky every day. Just when we think everything is okay, things turn out jia lat (Hokkien term for trouble or terrible situation).
  2. Help comes in different forms and colours. But a hand offered by a stranger is always genuine and warm.
  3. We remember moments and experiences, and we associate them to a person.
  4. Success, no matter how glittery and tempting it may seem, is sometimes an empty pursuit. Be warned of a Chinese saying that it is cold on top.
  5. Sometimes, success comes from sheer luck. We just happen to be in the right place at the right time.
  6. No matter how much money we accumulate, we will never be satisfied until we share it with others.
  7. We do not lose if we give money to who need it. We only allow the person to experience the same level of comfort we enjoy. This is what we know as sharing.
  8. Jealousy and pride are two sins that consume us in our chase for success. But we can put them into good use. Jealousy as a leverage to improve our lives ; and pride as a shield from unscrupulous people who take advantage of the weak.
  9. Passion or money? Take the plunge or gawk on the edge, and figure out the depth of the ridge? Unknown or sure answers? We are all tempted to do the former but ended up doing the latter.
  10. Passion is something that defines us. It is not an itch that cannot be scratched by money alone.
  11. If we strongly feel for something, do not let go. We may not achieve it now, but we will later.
  12. Creative people have passion for what they do. No matter what other people say about our art and pursuit, we just go on, try harder until we are happy with our results.
  13. People who do creative things but do not know how to respect the style and uniqueness of another person limit his growth. We do not set boundaries, parameters and formula for our craft.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Simbang gabi, a century-old tradition that is still very much part of Pinoy Christmas

Pinoy Christmas will not be complete without observing the novena at dawn popularly known as simbang gabi. Held at 4 o’clock in the morning and kicks off every 16th of December, simbang gabi is a novena held during Christmas season and being followed by Catholics in the hope of receiving special blessing from God. Filipino Catholics believe that by completing the novena, God will grant their wish.

Simbang Gabi culminates in the Misa de Gallo or Rooster’s Mass held on Christmas Eve. Why rooster? It is believed that the rooster was among the first to witness Christ’s birth, hence the name.

Simbang Gabi scenes

Churchgoers clad in maong and wool jackets. Lolos and lolas trying to focus (and not sleep) during the priest’s homily. Bright church patio or altar.

These are the common sight of simbang gabi in the Philippines with the backdrop of shadows of teen couples lurking in the church corner or garden.

And who will miss the queue of tinderos and tinderas in front of the church during this season? They offer churchgoers a variety of local snacks, drinks and dishes from:

  1. bibingka (flour and egg cakes cooked on top and under) to
  2. puto bumbong (a purple colored rice pastry, seasoned with grated-coconut and brown sugar) to
  3. kutsinta to
  4. higute (how natives of Morong, Rizal, Philippines call porridge) to
  5. hot chocolate

Did you know?

That simbang gabi started in the Spanish colonial era when Filipino farmers and parishioners would hear early dawn masses before toiling the land. But Wikipedia noted, “The Simbang Gabi timing originated not just out of devotion, but also due to practicality (sic).”

The Spanish friars (frailes y cura parrocos) wanted the majority of Filipinos, who were mostly farmers, to hear the novena during Christmas season and since Filipino farmers then worked early in the day, the Spanish friars compromised and held the mass at dawn. As the farmers did not have much to offer, offerings then were sacks of rice, fruits, vegetables and fresh eggs, which the friars shared to parishioners and thus became the tradition of breakfasts after simbang gabi.

Up to today, most Filipinos believe that completing the novena of simbang gabi will make one’s wish come true. So be it a boyfriend, a baby or money, let’s be part of simbang gabi, wherever we may be.

Simbang gabi in Singapore

Please click here to view the schedule of Simbang Gabi in Singapore.