Bacolod City’s holiday attraction, the “Christmas Village” of artist-designer Bamboo Tonogbanua, is on its 18th year and has always offered something new. This year, it includes a pink castle with Tinker Bell and her fairy friends, a Chinatown and Cleopatra, which the owner acquired from his travels.
Tonogbanua started his Christmas Village at his ancestral home on San Juan Street in 1994. His collection of miniature Christmas houses and objects has since increased.
Fascinated by Victorian and New England villages on Christmas cards as a child, he decided to recreate them at his home. The showcase occupied only 32 square feet then but it has slowly grown in area and height as the miniature objects bought during his travels or given by friends and relatives increased.
Now, the village is 10-feet high—from its highest snow-covered mountain and magical castles in the “sky” to items laid out inside a 48-sq m room.
More than 5,000 objects are on display while a similar number of them are kept in storage for lack of space.
The Christmas village has sections representing various parts of the world. This year, it has a new neighborhood—Chinatown—which features 100 miniature red lanterns, a fire burning on snow-covered grounds, restaurants in pagoda-like structures, a Chinese antique store with a chinaman selling wares, a parade with a marching band and a dragon float, a welcome arch and many other minute details.
A few feet away is a pink castle on a snow-capped hill. Tinker Bell flies in circles above it.
At least six pairs of princes and princesses seem to be walking on the grounds. On the hillside below are frolicking fairies and swans floating on a pond. Cinderella and Snow White are also seen strolling while magical creatures are inside a pumpkin house in a cave.
At the riverbank found at the village entrance, a reclining Cleopatra, escorted by guards, is on a “royal” barge rowed by slaves.
The other new attractions are Clinton’s Butchers Shop, skating rinks and more skaters.
The mainstay ones are the ferris wheels, parachute drops, saucer and tornado rides, ski drops and railways—all moving to the beat of Christmas music and blinking lights.
Wizards fly around castles in the clouds in the middle of the room. Below them are are quaint houses of different shapes and sizes, with people rushing about with Christmas chores.
Amid all the modern-day holiday attractions, Tonogbanua has not forgotten what lies in the heart of Christmas.
On a prominent hill lies Baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph, as a guiding star shines above the manger scene. The Three Kings bear gifts while many animals circle around the manger on a rotating platform.
Tonogbanua’s home is open everyday throughout December to those who call and ask to see his Christmas Village. This is his way of spreading the holiday spirit.