|MAY TATLONG HARING NAGSIDALAW. 3 Kings Parish, Gapan, N.Ecija|
Time was when the Feast of the Epiphany or 3 Kings was a fixed date—January 6—which also marked the end of the Christmas season. With the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar, the date has become variable, celebrated on the first Sunday of January.
|THE 3 KINGS, part of the Nativity Set of the Three Kings Parish, Gapan, N.E.|
Gapan, Nueva Ecija has the distinction of having a parish named after the 3 Kings—and, together with the Virgin Mary as Divina Pastora, are considered patron saints of the city—even if the biblical Magi are not saints.
|THE ANTIQUE IMAGES OF GAPAN'S TATLONG HARI.|
There are at least three sets of the kings known in Gapan—the antique, dressed festejadas that are processioned every January 6, the all-wood images in the altar of Nativity, and a set of devotional images of the Adorable family, now in the U.S.
VIEW THE 3 KINGS PROCESSION HERE:
In the Philippines, the 3 Kings were looked at as gift-givers, the way Americans looked at Santa Claus. This began in the Spanish times when the “Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos” was celebrated in Filipino homes with feasting, merry-making and gift-giving. Children would leave their buffed shoes all in arrow outside their rooms to find them stuffed with gifts the next morning—courtesy of the 3 Kings!
|CASA ESPANOL'S TRES REYES MAGOS, in horseback, Manila. 1935.|
The Spanish community kept the custom alive, even after the Americans introduced their own Christmas, through the efforts of Casino Español de Manila, a socio-civic-recreational club founded in 1844 for Spaniards living in Manila. On January 6, Spaniards dressed like Melchor, Gazpar and Balthazar, take to the streets lined with Spanish children to distribute gifts.
|JUAN SOUCHEIRON, as Baltazar, 1935.|
Instead of camels, the Kings ride horses, wending their way as children cheer. To this day, Casino Español has continued to celebrate the 3 Kings’ gift-giving tradition without the pompous street parade, limiting the activities at the Casino de Español grounds. The Feast of 3 Kings is also known as “Araw ng Matatanda” in the Philippines.
Vanishing Christmas Tradition, "FilipiKnow" by Alex R. Castro
“Celebration of 3 Kings”, The Philippine Free Press, 12 December 1936, p. 28-29
Many thanks to Reichardt Lionel (Richard Dino) and John Kevin Ligon for the use of their 3 Kings photos from their facebook page.
youtube: Three Kings procession, Gapan City, uploaded by nejournal, 5 January 2009. Three Kings of Gapan