The festive holiday spirit is alive again at Bacolod’s iconic miniature Christmas village that turns 25 years old this December.
Christmas songs fill the air, merrymakers are dancing on ice, the trains are running, the carnival rides are on the move, festive lights are blinking – it’s that magical time of the year once again at the 8 by 10-meter room filled with thousands of miniature objects at the ancestral home of Bacolod artist Bamboo Tonogbanua at San Juan Street in Bacolod City.
The village that opened in 1996 has brought joy to thousands of children and adults but as the COVID-19 pandemic raged last year Tonogbanua was forced to close it to the public.
This year the village that has undergone its annual design upgrades, the secret to its staying entertaining to even those who have seen its many times before, will be open only to close acquaintances of Tonogbanua.
He says the downgrade of Bacolod’s COVID-19 status to Alert Level 2 offers hope that when it is safe he can once again open his village to the public.
As a young boy Tonogbanua said he was fascinated by the pictures of festive snow villages and Santa Claus on Christmas cards that led him to start collecting miniatures houses, churches and festive objects.
Twenty-five years ago, he began his miniature Christmas Village on a single table and as he saw the joy it brought to people who came to visit, it grew bigger each year. He bought more miniature objects during his travels, while friends and even strangers brought in their contributions.
The miniature objects have been artistically laid out in sub-villages representing different countries and eras, with busy urban centers and quaint villages on mountains and hills, along riverbanks and railroad tracks and even hanging from the sky.
There is also a magical world where characters from famous fairy tales abound in castles, carriages and snow-capped peaks.
One is also transported to Paris and its iconic Eifel Tower, Amsterdam’s canal houses made of refrigerator magnets, scenes from the Sound of Music in Austria, a sleeping rickshaw driver on a bench in busy Chinatown, mariachi bands and dancing señoritas in front of taco restaurants in Mexico, the land of the Pharaohs, Charles Dickens’ fictional characters of the Victorian era and America in the 1950s.
And to remind one and all of the reason mankind celebrates Christmas, various versions of the nativity scene that tell the story of Jesus humble birth abound in the village.*