Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A misa de aguinaldo with cultural touches

We did not know that the traditional early morning misa de gallo and the misa de aguinaldo (Christmas eve mass) have become Christmas events at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) all these years. 

The cast of Simbang Gabi@d'CCP included the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and the Our Lady of Sorrows parish.

Until we discovered these only last month when we saw a stage play there during the National Theater Festival.  We thought that the misa de aguinaldo at CCP would certainly be a great cultural departure from the ones we've attended at the open-air services at the military parade grandstand at Camp Aguinaldo, traditionally concluded with a message delivered by the Chief of Staff of the AFP himself.  For almost a decade, we've been spending Christmas at the camp with our brother-in-law, a Philippine Army official, and his family who were in residence there.  He retired early this year; hence no more simbang gabi in the military camp.

The misa at the main Nicanor Abelardo Theater of the CCP was indeed exciting, and it started very early too at 7:30 in the evening.  For several years now, it has been held at 9 or 10 o'clock depending on the preferred schedules of churches throughout the archipelago.  Well, it used to be 12 midnight when we were still in high school.
The Madz led the singing of the hymns during the misa de aguinaldo. Mary and Joseph of the Panunuluyan would later appear at the round niche at the backround, which in this picture is still covered by the big silver lighted lantern.

It began promptly with live music from the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.  The full house of adults and children enjoyed listening to their rendition of familiar Christmas carols for half an hour.

The pregnant Mary and husband Joseph, portrayed by Ramon Obusan Folkloric troupers, sang their pleas for a lodging in the reenactment of the popular Christmas story about their search for a lodging place.

The mass goers were treated to something theatrical next.  The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group performed the Panunuluyan -- with dialogues in both Pilipino and a Visayan dialect -- reenacting the search for an inn by the pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph in Bethlehem town.  The couple sang their request for lodging, and denied them by house owners posted in several places around the theater and onstage.  The couple appeared later with the iconic image of the baby Jesus when the big silver star moved away from the round niche at the stage background as the celebrant read the Gospel.

The couple appeared with the baby Jesus image as the celebrant read the Gospel.

The Philippine Madrigal Singers (the Madz!) led in the singing of the hymns during the mass. During the finale, they were joined by other choirs distributed around the theater in the singing of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.

As the mass ended, Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus image came down to the stage and were joined by the rest of the Obusan troupe as the Magi and shepherds to form the familiar belen tableaux. The adoration of the baby Jesus followed with the Madz singing carols in the background.

The adoration of the baby Jesus image.

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