The COVID-19 pandemic is this year’s Grinch that stole Christmas at Bacolod’s iconic miniature village that will be closed to the public over the holidays, on what would have been its 24th year run.
Artist Bamboo Tonogbanua said the “Christmas Village” at his ancestral home at San Juan Street in Bacolod City that has been open to the public every December since 1996 will be closed this year in observance of COVID-19 health protocols.
He, however, hopes to make a grand comeback in December 2021 when the Christmas Village turns 25 and when the COVID-19 scare is hopefully over.
But the village lockdown has not stopped Tonogbanua from putting in new additions to the village, that has grown bigger and bigger each year.
The village that 24 years ago, was set up on a single table now fills two rooms on the second floor of Tonogbanua’s house.
The Christmas Village is a well-landscaped work of art consisting of hills, valleys, mountains, and urban centers.
It is divided into zones so each section represents a different country, with added sections of fairylands and carnivals.
This year, the castle of the Beast has new chandeliers and a royal carriage, the Frozen castle has glass angels, and the little town of Bethlehem scene has some Egyptian touches and desert tents.
Tonogbanua said the COVID-19 lockdown has given him time to have a closer look at the lighted snowy scenery on the stony ends of his Christmas Village.
He has been adding details and repositioning the houses, and jokes that sometimes he even talks to the Lilliputians who live in the village.
The trains are now all running, and the village is alive with music and dancing, except this year Tonogbanua cannot share his magical Christmas joy with the public.
Sad to say, the Christmas Village will be quiet this year, as it joins the world on lockdown in these uncertain times, he said.
He has instead posted photos of the village, saying “through these pictures, I wish love and joy to all friends and loved ones who once visited were awed and enjoyed my Christmas Village.”*