Jessica Logronio, 37, caps her day by bringing her two children for a walk around the public plaza, basking in the vibrant Christmas lights and decorations that adorned and illuminated the streets of Palo town in Leyte.
After savoring the joyful atmosphere that captures the merriment of the Holiday season during their stroll, Logronio would order a barbeque being sold at the colorful food stalls in the town’s square for an evening dinner with her family as Christmas carols are played in in the background.
A stone-throw away from the public plaza, the palling of bells can be heard for the daily evening mass at the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral under the Archdiocese of Palo, where Pope Francis visited and offered a prayer on Jan. 17, 2015, for the victims of the Super Typhoon Yolanda that leveled the town on November 8, 2013.
As the local government of Palo officially reopened its traditional “Christmas Village” at the town’s plaza to serve as a communal place to celebrate the Christmas season, Logronio was also inspired to put up some colorful lights and decorations at her home, albeit “minimal,” as a way of celebrating the joyous occasion.
“Personally, the ‘Christmas Village’ has become a very significant Christmas tradition for most Paloanons, the lights and decorations have undeniably lifted up spirits,” says Logronio.
On Dec. 14, 2023, Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla invited the residents and visitors to join the “momentous occasion” as she led the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Village to signal the reopening of this year’s “Pasko ha Palo (Christmas in Palo)” festivities, which was regaled by a grand fireworks display to the delight of the locals and visitors coming from nearby towns.
“The Christmas in Palo stands as an enduring annual tradition, meticulously curated and passionately upheld by Mayor Remedios Petilla,” the local government says in a statement during the launching program.
“The Christmas in Palo is rooted in a vision of community unity and festive joy. This cherished celebration has become a symbol of Palo’s dynamic character,” it adds.
Some of the Christmas scenes and attractions that were opened to the public to enjoy include the Palo Pag Ibig Plaza, Christmas Tunnel, Purisima Bridge, Luntad Christmas Village, Saboren Christmas Fantasy House, Palo Public Market, Belen, Bangon River Bridge, Barbeque Plaza, Christmas Tellis, Enchanting Palo Livelihood, and Tourism Information Center, among others.
Roben Mathew Monteza, a 24-year-old resident of Palo, says that seeing the lights and decorations of the Christmas Village also brightens up the day of those coming home from work.
“The [Christmas] attractions help people to feel relaxed coming from their work,” he says.
“I just don’t know, but every time I see the Christmas lights, the attractions [of the Christmas Village], you would feel a certain kind of emotion. And you feel satisfied with it. Through the Christmas decorations, I am brought back again to my childhood memories,” adds Monteza, who works at a local radio station in the nearby Tacloban City.
Magic at the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House
At the Barangay Luntad Christmas Village, locals and visitors are also drawn to the myriad of Christmas toys, lights, collections, and holiday memorabilia displayed inside the private residence of the Saboren family.
In 1991, the Saboren family opened their private Christmas collections and called it Saboren Christmas Fantasy House.
The family generously offered their collections to all people coming from all walks of life to see, saying they wanted to share the spirit of Christmas that they also experienced.
The collections were coming from a family member based in the United States, who would send various Christmas items to their home in Palo since the 1980s.
It was temporarily closed after it was devastated by Yolanda but reopened in 2016. Three years after the pandemic, the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House opened its doors again to the public.
Hanzel Saboren wrote on her social media account, inviting everyone “for a joyful experience” at their place as they reopened on Dec. 14.
“Consider adding a visit to our Christmas house to your holiday traditions,” she says on Facebook.
As visitors crowded Saboren’s Christmas house, Logronio even found a hard time bringing her two children inside the place.
“There is always a queue. And my kids don’t have enough patience to queue,” says Logronio, smilingly.
RONALD O. REYES