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Panuluyan or Panunuluyan (Tagalog for "asking for lodgings") is a Philippine Christmas dramatic ritual narrating the Holy Family's search for a place to stay in Bethlehem for Jesus Christ's birth through song.


The panunuluyan originated from the Mexican nine-day Christmas ritual called posadas. The only difference between the two is that the panunuluyan only takes place over one night. Mexican sailors from the galleons during Spanish colonization probably brought the custom to Tagalog and Bicol towns.

The ritual

The panunuluyan is held on Christmas Eve. The procession begins with the images of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary on floats being wheeled out of the church courtyard at about seven in the evening. Two singers vocalize the two parts, accompanied by musicians. They stop at three or four homes throughout the barrio or town, which represent different inns or houses in Bethlehem. At each, they plead for lodging in song. The singers representing the house owners or innkeepers all refuse to provide lodgings and give various reasons. One sings that his house is overflowing with guests; a couple may claim to be too poor to take them in; another person gives the excuse that the real owner is out; another argues that it is unsafe to let in strangers at night. The ritual ends towards midnight, at the church where the midnight Mass is about to begin. At the singing of the "Gloria" the nativity scene is unveiled at the altar.


An updated version of the panunuluyan is now also to be presented with dance as well as music by performers of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


  • Tiongson, Nicanor G. "Panunuluyan" in CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Vol. 7. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.



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