Renovation steps up Yuletide spirit
Bacolod City’s famous Christmas Village has opened with wonderful additions that bring out a smile on the face of every visitor.
Artist-designer Bamboo Tonogbanua undertook some landscape renovations, removing several buildings but erecting new ones in the Christmas Village found inside his ancestral home on San Juan Street.
More unusual structures and objects are on display this year, Tonogbanua said, after the “balikbayan” boxes he shipped in New York arrived after 2014 Christmas. He also has new extras he brought from his travels this year.
To accommodate the pieces, Tonogbanua knocked down some “villages” and uprooted some houses.
The renovations started in September. The house officially opened to visitors on Dec. 1, two months after the renovation work started. The Christmas Village will run until Dec. 31, bringing cheer to thousands of people—young and old alike—who pass by each year.
Tonogbanua started his holiday project in 1994, when his collection of miniature Christmas houses and objects grew.
During childhood, he was fascinated by Victorian and New England villages on Christmas cards. He decided to recreate them in his Christmas Village that has become a city attraction.
At first, the Christmas Village occupied only 32 square feet. Slowly, it grew in length and height as his miniatures multiplied. Many were brought abroad during the artist’s travels while others were presents from friends and relatives.
This year, a fiesta atmosphere lingers in the community. Mariachis and dancers, a taco restaurant, a carriage and buntings are found in the Mexican section.
The New York diner has new neighbors that include Times Square, a new theater, a zoo, a rock and roll band in a gazebo with dancers having a grand time, and a Junior Flight School and Crazy Car fun rides.
A colorful ice cream truck is parked nearby.
There are also new Victorian homes, a new basilica and a renovated Roman fountain in the European section.
The town square with a merry-go-round is busier and more colorful. A new Shakespearian section was created, along with a choir singing on a balcony and glass houses.
Among the new moving objects are “Nutcracker” ballerinas performing on a stage, churchgoers gliding in and out of a church, a zip line, a bigger vintage Ferris wheel, and a house whose front opens at the start of the day and closes as night falls.
For newcomers, the joy will be in taking in so many Christmas scenes from around the world at one time. For frequent visitors, it is about discovering what’s new.
But one thing is certain: Tonogbanua has outdone himself this year.