PN file photo

The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP) has announced that this year’s Misa de Gallo and Simbang Gabi schedule has been aligned with the existing curfew hours in the city, in compliance with health protocols under the new normal.

Instead of the usual 4 a.m. Misa de Gallo mass has been moved to 5 a.m. while Simbang Gabi will be at 6  p.m and 7 p.m.

“Iyong adjustments ay nakaayon sa protocols na ipinapatupad dahil sa pandemic like curfew at places or venues na pagdadausan ng Simbang Gabi. Dati ang Simbang Gabi ay may 4:00 am. Dahil may curfew na 5:00 so 5:00 am ang start ng misa. Sa gabi naman ay earlier para marami pa ang misa. Another thing, damihan ang misa para ma-decongest ang mga tao for physical distancing,” Father Eugene Elivera, spokesperson of AVPP said.

The Simbang Gabi traditionally starts at dawn of December 16 or evening of December 15 up to December 24 as devotion of Roman Catholics in preparation for the festivities of Christmas.

Based on the schedule released by AVPP, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish (ICCP) will have masses for 5:15 am and 6:00 am from December 16 to 24. While the 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm masses will be conducted from December 15 to 24.

The ICCP with an original capacity of 700 to 800 individuals will only accommodate about 60 percent of its total capacity to practice the social distancing between devotees attending masses, he said.

Aside from masses at ICCP, the AVPP also coordinated with the city government to have a mass at Mendoza Park at 5:15 am from December 16 to 24 and at 6:00pm from December 15 to 24.

“Meron din misa sa Mendoza Park, precisely, to decongest ang mga tao kasi hindi maiwasan na kapag simbang gabi. We are also thankful for the city mayor’s administration na pinayagan tayo gumamit ng public spaces para na rin open air at mas malawak ang pagdausa ng misa,” he said.

There are also masses scheduled in local establishments from December 16 to 24 which includes Chinatown scheduled every 4:00 pm and NCCC Mall every 5:00 pm. Capitol will also have a scheduled Simbang Gabi at 6:00 pm.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has also released guidelines concerning the Simbang Gabi and said that adjustments are applied this time of pandemic.

CBCP still encourage the live streaming of liturgical celebrations such as Aguinaldo Masses, Misa de Gallo, and Simbang Gabi especially for those who are unable to join the masses physically.

“On Christmas Eve, the Vigil Mass of Christmas may be celebrated from 6:00 in the evening. The last Mass of December 24 would take the liturgy of the Midnight Mass of Christmas. The dawn of Mass of Christmas may also be celebrated early morning of December 25,” the statement said.

Since kissing or touching images is still prohibited, families “may be encouraged to bring their family image of the infant Jesus during the Christmas masses.”

Meanwhile, in celebration of the Feast of Immaculate Conception, AVPP will replace the traditional fluvial parade with a motorcade today n compliance with adjustments in health protocols.

“In fact, nag-umpisa na kanina and nag-novena na tayo. Dati may caracol, dahil nga sa protocols ay meron tayong adjustment, meron tayong motorcade mula sa pier hanggang sa harap ng cathedral,” he said.