At 4:30 this morning, I celebrated the Misa de Gallo with over three thousand people. Our church can only accomodate over a thousand, so there were more people outside - in the church grounds and the car park. Many of the young people stayed outside with their barkadas (friends). Many of the people outside brought their own plastic chairs. We put a large screen outside so the people could see the liturgy inside the church.
The theme for this morning's mass was: "The Family that Witnesses to the Truth." The themes for these nine days of preparation for the celebration of Christmas center on the "family."
After the mass, the people rushed to the booths outside to buy delicacies like puto bombong, suman and hot chocolate drink.
The beginning of the Misa de Gallo always reminds of my mother, Nichol, who was brutally killed 24 years ago during the last days of the Marcos dictatorial regime. She was shot in the head after coming out from a bank (We found out later that she was killed by a gang composed of military men). The period of the misa de gallo and our Christmas season was marred by this tragedy. We buried her a couple of days before Christmas. It was very difficult to celebrate Christmas amidst the grief and the seemingly hopeless situation of our country.
During this nine days of preparation for the celebration of Christmas, my heart goes out to those have been victimized by the culture of death and violence. I know how it feels to have a bleak advent and Christmas season. Still, we have to celebrate.
Tonight, to mark the anniversary of my mother's death, I went out for dinner alone at a Japanese restaurant.