PANUNULUYAN: Searching from Within

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New York City, Dec. 10 -- My assignment to cover the 7th night's Panunuluyan at the Kalayaan Hall is a reunion of friends like Lorli Villanueva, Bobby Yalong, Rose Javier, Momar Visaya, my Ibanag  and Ivatan friends. It is also searching something from within.



Panunuluyan (search for an inn) has been observed by the Fil-Am community for the second year now. It has replaced the Simbang Gabi, a Filipino tradition of coming together to celebrate nine consecutive days of prayer, singing hymns, and reading the gospels on the Birth of Jesus Christ. 


This was introduced by Mexican missionaries in the 16th Century when Fray Diego Soria petitioned the Pope for permission to hold Christmas masses outdoors because the church could not accommodate the multitude of attendees. Request was granted and in the 17th Century, the Misa de Gallo or the Simbang Gabi became a Filipino spiritual tradition. Thus, Panunuluyan is integrated in the Catholic liturgy as its entrance rite.


An excerpt of Panunuluyan read last night by Lorli Villanueva:  "Through five centuries of Christianization, the faith of the Filipinos has been sustained mostly by their religiosity. A people that respond most effectively to dramatization, symbols and rituals that they have kept and updated through the years. The teachings of the church become more meaningful to them only when these forms of worship and evangelization are employed and integrated in official forms of worship. The church has expressed an attitude of openness to adapt the liturgy to the needs of the times and of various cultures."


Vice Consul Khrystine Corpuz said, "The Philippine Consulate in New York welcomes everyone to the Panunuluyan  no matter what race or religion. We encourage our kababayans to bring friends, as the more we come together, the better. We coordinate and organize this event with leaders of the different Filipino-American associations as early as June. We had at least 12 meetings before the Big Event." The bayanihan spirit among the group makes the Panunuluyan Event more meaningful as they integrate their own artistic and creative talents in the program every night. 


Christmas is the biggest event among Filipinos. It is that time of the year when we meditate on the blessings we received from God the whole year. The time when family and friends gather together and eat foods especially prepared by members of the family. The time to forgive and to heal broken hearts. The time to share and have peace within ourselves.


Panunuluyan is a word that can also mean searching from within us the real meaning of Christmas.