WHILE it is a treat to sleep in these cool December mornings, many Filipinos will wake up early to attend the 4 a.m. Simbang Gabi.

Simbang Gabi is a Filipino Christmas tradition of very early morning masses which starts on the 16th of December and ends on the 24th, Christmas Eve. Many believe that if they attend all nine of the dawn masses, their prayers will be granted. Others go to the churches to bond with their family and friends and, after hearing the mass, enjoy freshly cooked bibingka or puto bumbong (steamed rice snacks) which are often sold near the entrance of the church.

For those living in or visiting Manila during the holiday season, there is an abundance of churches that they can visit for Simbang Gabi. IkotMNL — a tourism campaign launched by LRT-1 operator Light Rail Manila Corporation — has a list of five recommended churches to visit this season. They are: Baclaran Church in Pasay City; Malate Church, San Sebastian Church, San Agustin Church, and Binondo Church, all in Manila.

All five churches are easily accessible by the LRT 1 — but unfortunately, the trains start running from the Baclaran and Roosevelt terminals at 4:30 a.m., just before the dawn masses end. If a 4 a.m. mass is much too early, you may still want to visit the churches as they have historical, religious, and architectural significance.

Download the ikotMNL app to check the LRT-1 train schedule, crowd situation, advisories, and more. It is available on the App Store or Google Play.