Governor Amado I. Espino III together with Pangasinan First Lady Karina P. Espino and their only son Amado IV, led thousands of devotees in celebrating the Yuletide tradition by completing the nine-day anticipated mass (Simbang Gabi) as well as the Christmas and New Year’s Eve Mass at the Capitol grounds.
Well attended by Catholic devotees from all walks of life, the nine-day anticipated mass which was launched during the term of former governor and former congressman Amado T. Espino, Jr., the traditional Simbang Gabi at the Capitol were held from December 15 to 23 at 5 p.m. while the Christmas eve and New Year’s eve mass were held at 7 in the evening on December 24 and December 31, respectively.
Hence, the first family was joined by other members of their family to include the matriarch—Bugallon Mayor Priscilla “Mely” I. Espino; 2nd district representative Jumel Anthony I. Espino and his wife Le Anne Denise; sister Ma. Regina Isabel “Mariz” Espino-Sinlao and husband, Roslyn; sister Dr. Roanna Cristina “Cris” Espino-Alcera and husband Lloyd. All Espino grandchildren were also present on the New Year’s eve mass.
Officiated by different Catholic priests from various parishes to include Most Reverend Socrates Villegas, the mass homilies depicted the storyline behind the immaculate conception of Virgin Mary and the birth of the infant Jesus. The other priests who officiated the mass are as follows: Most Rev. Fidelis B. Layog, Rev. Fr. Hernan Caronongan, Rev. Fr. Eric Galivo, Rev. Fr. Francis Lucas Posadas, Rev. Fr. Victor Embuido, Rev. Fr. Camilo Natividad, Rev. Fr. Solomon Geslani, Jr. and Rev. Fr. Alvin Gerald J. Platon.
With the Capitol building serving as the backdrop during the mass, the Nativity scene or Belen is also displayed to highlight the birth of Jesus Christ with mother Mary and Saint Joseph to include the three wise men carrying gifts and the star of Bethlehem that guided them in their journey.
Meanwhile, mass-goers were likewise treated with lovely and majestic sights at the Capitol complex thru the Christmas village wherein the structures were adorned with the ‘cities of the world’ setup. The following are the different adornments for the edifices: Capitol building (Manila City), Urduja House (New York City), Abong na Dayew (Ireland), PIO temporary building (Mexico City), Malong building (Singapore), Palaris building (Moscow), Finance building (Santorini), Veterans Park (Rio de Janeiro), OPAg ENRO, OPVet building (Buckingham), PESO building (Beijing), Legal Office building (Rome City), Capitol Resort Hotel (Bangkok), Provincial Library (Dubai), Sison Auditorium (Toronto).
Buildings of different national government agencies also participated. These include: DepEd SDO1 (Shanghai), TESDA (Seoul), Land Registration Authority (Oslo), Regional Trial Court (Paris), Girl Scout of the Philippines (Tokyo), Land Transportation Office (Istanbul), DOH – Pangasinan (Vienna), DOST (Honolulu), NFA (Sydney), DPWH (London), and DILG (Madrid).
Well praised by Pangasinenses, the Christmas tradition at the Capitol has become a much-awaited event.
Bank teller Sherame Sarzaba of Brgy. Libsong in Lingayen, commended the Espino administration for conceptualizing such activity that is aimed at preserving and reliving a Filipino tradition. “Maganda po na may anticipated mass sa Capitol kasi mas madaling umattend lalo na sa mga kagaya namin na nagwo-work. After office hours po deretso na kami sa Capitol para magsimba at mamasyal na rin po kasi ang ganda ng Capitol lalo na sa gabi,” she said on interview.
Mark Cabotaje, another mass-goer, stated: “Nakumpleto po namin ang Simbang Gabi kasi ‘yong oras sakto lang sa time na tapos na ang trabaho. Nagpapasalamat kami at may ganitong misa sa Capitol.” (Ruby R. Bernardino)