NEW YORK CITY – After a two-year hiatus, Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado (SGK) was revived and is back on its 27th year. A delighted Filipino community resumed the traditional nine-day Christmas novena on December 4 and will run until this Friday December 12 at the Philippine Center New York.
During its opening day, Consul General Mario De Leon acknowledged the efforts of the community saying, “This is a display of faith at work.” He thanked the organizations and individuals who never tired of requesting, coordinating with the diocese and sending petitions to have the Filipino Christmas tradition back in the Consulate. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, sent his approval of its return last September after much supplication from the community. The mass was celebrated by Father Patrick Longalong, who also served as the SGK Planning Committee Spiritual Director.
After the Consulate announced its return, the planning committee had its meeting as early September. As a sign of solidarity and unity, the Consul General said 45 organizations took action together to sponsor the masses, program and fellowship during each of the nine nights. He praised the community’s faithfulness in observing the religious tradition and expressed his hope for the younger generations to carry on the celebration of the Simbang Gabi and Panunuluyan every year. The Consul General further encouraged the attendees to offer novena prayers for the safety of the Philippines and the Filipinos in light of the forthcoming storm Hagupit/Ruby at that time.
Simbang Gabi is a religious Filipino tradition that dates back to the 17th century when the Filipino church was granted a rescript by the Pope to hold masses of the church. The Archdiocese of New York stopped the observance of the Simbang Kabi in 2012 and was replaced byPanunuluyan, a portrayal of the “no room at the inn” quest of Mary and Joseph for a place of lodging to give birth to Jesus, much like the Mexican advent observance “no posada“.
From December 4, each of the evening started with a recital of the rosary at 6 PM and followed by a reflection video on the Nativity verse, and the celebration of the Eucharist. On the ninth and final day this Friday, a live re-enactment of the Panunuluyan will be staged. A simple community fellowship and light dinner salo-salo will follow at the Gallery Lobby, which includes caroling and gift-giving. This final night will be sponsored by the Philippine Consulate General, Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), and the Young Professionals Group (JCI Philippine-New York and CFYFP).
Also for the first time, Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado is being recorded and broadcast on live streaming via Handang Tumulong President Troi Santos’ YouTube account.
PHOTO COLLAGE: Clockwise from Top Left: Madame Eleanor De Leon poses with organizers from Day 2 of SGK; Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Boholano Archbishop Bernadito Auza delivers his Homily on Day 3; Filipino Christmas fare and games add merriment to the Salu-salo after SGK; Second-generation FilAm musicians and choir members lend a youthful vibe to the celebration.