If you’re still reading this, I guess the world hasn’t ended as some people have predicted. It may be the end for the Mayan calendar last 21st of December but it seems the universe have other plans. A calendar may have ended but it’s also the beginning of something new. For me, staying in a small town like El Nido during the holidays made me appreciate the simple life and celebration they have for the season. It’s refreshing to be away from the mall world for once and avoiding the Christmas rush. It has been a tradition for me to take Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo) photos every year and this time I decided to catch the morning ceremonies at St Francis of Assisi Parish in El Nido. Looking at the predictions on a positive light, we have a lot to be thankful for the world having not ended yet.
Small Town El Nido
The town center of El Nido, sheltered by towering cliffs is small. A few streets drawing a grid with the main road intersecting the town parallel the coastline. The holiday season brings a lot of activities in town, mostly centered at the Plaza beside the miniscule municipal hall. If there is an event, for sure, most of the town folks would hear the happenings. I had the chance to stay a few streets away from the plaza and I almost memorized the lyrics of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” after hearing them play it more than 5 times in an evening. From where I am staying now, the sounds are like faint echoes.
In the quiet wee hours of Simbang Gabi morning, I could already hear the faint sound of the ceremonies of the church even living somewhat on the outskirts of town. It reminds me of the morning prayers of Islam but this time on the Catholic counterpart.
St Francis of Assisi Parish
El Nido is predominantly Roman Catholic. There are two parishes in El Nido. The St Francis of Assisi Parish serves the western side of El Nido while the Sta Putenciana Parish serves the North and Eastern side of El Nido and parts of Taytay. Both are under the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay.
I’m not really sure when the church was built since there was no info or inscriptions there, but I was told the church was already there since early 1900s. Throughout the years renovated from a small structure to what it is now – modern and freshly painted. I really like the decor by the entrance that have some branches and mini capiz parols (christmas lanterns). I heard it was designed by Ten Knots, the company behind the El Nido Resorts and they traditionally do the Christmas decor of the church facade every year.
I didn’t stay long to finish the mass but was amused with the message from the priest about taking care of our sacred places and keeping them clean and presentable. It was a simple mass but the attendees poured in – no vacant seats.
And to end this post I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Blessed Christmas!
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.