The nine-day devotional Masses called Simbang Gabi is a cherished Filipino tradition observed during the Yuletide season.
The night Masses, which are actually held as early as 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., start on Dec. 16 until Dec. 24, on Christmas Eve.
From a practical compromise for farmers during the Spanish rule in the Philippines, it has become a tradition for devotees who believe that if they completed all nine days of Simbang Gabi, a request made may be granted, as well a unique occasion to bond with families and friends.
In the nation’s capital, churches are quite abundant, and they are mostly accessible via train or the LRT-1 line. Light Rail Manila Corporation’s tourism campaign ikotMNL shares this list of five must-visit churches in Manila.
The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, more famously known as the Baclaran Church, is one of the oldest historical and go-to church for Simbang Gabi in southern Manila. The vast and towering cathedral provides that distinct Christmas “feels” and is easily accessed through the LRT-1 Baclaran station.
The beautiful stone-wrought Malate Church, also known as the Our Lady of Remedies Parish, is hard to miss—it remains one of the most beautiful structures in the area. To get there, take the LRT-1 Quirino station for a quick ride to the church.
San Sebastian Church
The historic and only all-steel church in the Philippines is noted for its Gothic Revival architecture. The stunning minor basilica is one of the most beautiful shrines one can visit in Manila, even after the Simbang Gabi season. It is accessible from the LRT-1 United Nations station.
San Agustin Church
Manila is not short on glorious churches, and two of them can be found inside the famous Walled City of Intramuros. San Agustin Church features majestic, symmetrical interiors with a baroque pulpit. Head to Intramuros via the LRT-1 Central Terminal to get to the church.
Manila’s busiest shopping district is also home to another glorious minor basilica, the Binondo Church. For religious history buffs, it’s an important place for Filipino Christianity because its serves as the home parish of Filipino saint Lorenzo Ruiz. Get down at the LRT-1 Carriedo station and ride a tricycle going to Binondo to reach this Manila landmark.
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